Valiant comeback leads Hampton to OT triumph

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   It was like a roller coaster for the Hampton Lady Bulldogs.
   Down as much as 14 against the West Greene Lady Buffaloes, Hampton overcame a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to tie and eventually win their first game of the season, 55-50 in overtime at the Valley Forge Auction Ladies' Thanksgiving Classic at Happy Valley's Bayless Gym.
   "They proved a lot to me, that's all I know," said Hampton coach Leslie Campbell. "I'm satisfied with them and they showed heart when they needed to. I wish they'd show it all the time."
   The Lady Bulldogs were led by a solid game from sophomore Lauren Pitman, who threw in a game-high 18 points in the contest.
   Senior Joy Gardner came away with 13 points, while Heather Chambers netted nine.
   Both squads traded blows, with Lady Buffs Grace Swatzell and Kayla Ford battling against Hampton's Pitman and Gardner.
   Hampton took an early lead and kept it momentarily, using the boards to pull away with a 13-8 edge after one.
   The Lady Buff duo used big shots behind the arch to pull their team in front with a quick lead in the second quarter.
   Hampton stepped up its defense and kept it close throughout the period, but couldn't get anything going offensively. They were outscored 17-6 in the frame.
   Turnovers hurt both teams at the beginning of the second half, as Hampton couldn't get a shot to drop until Lacey Oliver sliced a three. Chambers and Pitman cut the Lady Buff lead to six going into the fourth quarter.
   West Greene made it look like it had things won in the fourth quarter when Melissa Miller and Jacklyn Burger led them to a 12-point lead. But defense helped Chambers score five consecutive points to make things close again.
   Gardner pulled a three-point play to close it to three, but Pitman had to do work from the line after Burger carried the Lady Buffs.
   Hampton finally tied things up after a missed free throw from Michelle Shockley when Gardner nailed a three with 17.8 seconds left in the game.
   Hampton drew a charge late, putting it into overtime.
   Both squads fought from the charity stripe in the extra frame. Pitman made two to put Hampton up, then Chambers pulled away with a steal and made a bucket.
   Mandi Deweese and Pam Montgomery swapped shots as Hampton held a three-point lead with 9.9 seconds remaining in the game. However, West Greene threw it away and Hampton was put on the line.
   Hampton's key to the win had to be its defense. The squad came away with numerous steals and outrebounded West Greene in the final two periods of play.
   "It was defense," said Campbell. "Defense won the game and got us going. My subs played a big role tonight, too. At least I know I can go to the bench.
   "From last year to this year, there has been a big, big improvement. They played well and together."
   Burger led West Greene with 13 points, while Ford and Swatzell contributed nine and eight, respectively.
   Hampton plays David Crockett this afternoon at 5:30.