second year guard Mikala Amegasse acknowledges that his main contribution comes on Hampshire’s defensive end. He usually doesn’t fill out the score column.
However, when Amegasse gets going offensively, his team becomes even more dangerous.
“If I can step up and do something offensively, it will contribute to what we can accomplish,” Amegasse said. “People know that Ashley and Whitney are shooters. They know Avery is a threat. They know Chloe can go downhill.
“I’m just trying to do as much as I can and fill in the gaps.”
Amegasse was in the middle of Hampshire’s fourth-quarter comeback Wednesday night.
She hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth to give the Whip-Purs their first lead since early in the third, then calmly hit a pair of free throws as they pulled away for a 58-50 Fox Valley Conference win.
Herzing scored a game-high 16 points for Hampshire (19-11, 12-3). Amegasse added 14 points and Cartee and Thompson scored nine each.
Last week, Hampshire coach Eric Samuelson He spoke to his players. She went around the room asking what everyone felt they contributed to the team. Amegasse was one of the first to speak.
“She’s just a sophomore and she stepped up and said, ‘I need to stop turning the ball over and I need to make smarter shots,’” Samuelson said. “She hit some huge threes, but they were passing threes. They were in the flow of the offense.
“As far as taking care of the basketball, I think she did a great job.”
The Rockets led 46-41 entering the fourth, but Thompson and Amegasse opened the quarter hitting 3-pointers to give the Whip-Purs a 47-46 lead.
After a free kick forced a tie, Thompson scored another three and Hampshire never trailed again. He also started a 15-1 run that ended the game.
Amegasse shot 4 of 8 from the free throw line and 4 of 4 from the free throw line. He finished with four steals and three rebounds.
“I’m willing to do what I can in any way I can,” Amegasse said. “Anyway I can help my team, I want to do it. I feel like it’s a process and I’m continually improving.
“I hope I have grown this season. I guess that shows a little.”
The Rockets, meanwhile, went on a 9-0 run early in the first quarter and held the lead for most of the game until Thompson’s 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
“It helps when you’re making outside shots,” Burlington Central coach Mike Carani saying. “That gives you quite a few different options.”
However, after Hampshire finally took the lead away in the fourth, things changed.
“We were chasing and trying to do things to take us out of what we were doing for the first three quarters,” Carani said. “We’re starting to put it together for almost a full game.
“If we can last four full quarters, there’s no reason we can’t compete with this level of team.”
However, the Amegasse breakthrough is a big step forward for Hampshire. She credited her veteran teammates for helping her move forward.
“It’s really inspiring,” Amegasse said. “They have a great work ethic. They are great leaders. I want to be like them someday. “I will miss them next year, but they have given me incredible things.”
Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.