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Hampshire's Shane Hernandez (41) grabs a rebound over Woodstock North's Nick Herscha (24) during the second quarter of their game at Hampshire High School Tuesday. February 19, 2013. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media

When Hampshire made the big step up from the Big Northern Conference to the Fox Valley Conference last year, some of the skeptics may have thought it would take several years before the Whip-Purs could compete with the bigger schools.

Hampshire, however, had a slightly different timetable in mind. On Tuesday night, in just its second year in the conference, the Whip-Purs (22-4, 10-2) clinched a share of the FVC Fox Division title with Crystal Lake Central after defeating visiting Woodstock North 63-46.

“I had questions of my own of how quickly we would be able to compete,” said Hampshire coach Bob Barnett. “The kids have handled it great. This is a great accomplishment for them and an honor to be the first team in school history to be on top of the conference.”

Two senior stalwarts, Shane Hernandez and Tyler Crater — who have grown up in Hampshire playing basketball together since third grade — scored 22 points each to lead the Whip-Purs.

“They both have meant the world to us,” said Barnett. “We go back a long ways. I am really happy for them and proud of the way they have become our leaders.”

Hampshire led 16-12 after one quarter, but began to pull away with a 9-0 run at the start of the second quarter to go up 25-12. Crater and Hernandez scored all nine points. Crater scored 13 of his points in the first half, including a pair of three-pointers. The Whip-Purs led 31-20 at the break.

“It’s great for us to be able to win the conference in just our second year,” said Crater. “I’m not that surprised. I knew we had a good team. It was just a matter of us coming together. A lot of us have been playing together for a long time, especially me and Shane. And people don’t always realize how important it is have that kind of chemistry.”

Hernandez scored nine of his points in the third quarter as the Whip-Purs continued to extend the lead to as much as 20 points, 48-28.

“This means a lot,” said Hernandez. “Nobody really expected us to be able to win the conference in our second year. It just shows that hard work pays off. It has been a great four years. It has been a great experience to play for Coach Barnett. I have learned a lot.”

Ryan Cork added 10 points for the Whip-Purs.

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