Consistency is name of game for Hampton boys
If the Hampton boys basketball team could get more consistency on offense, it might really have something. But Joe Lafko’s team, as usual, has something already.
The team is primed for another playoff appearance despite a 57-49 loss to Shaler last Wednesday that all but guaranteed a fourth-place finish in Section 3-5A.
But the big picture is Hampton (10-7, 6-5) is a contender again despite losing its leading scorer from last season.
“We definitely have ourselves in the position to control our own destiny in making the playoffs,” Lafko said. “But we still have some business to take care of.”
Against Shaler, Hampton could not generate consistent offense.
The Talbots fought back from a 14-point second-half deficit to make it a two-possession game with less than two minutes to play but couldn’t finish the comeback.
“The game wasn’t really lost down the stretch,” Lafko said. “We had a lapse in some offensive opportunities to start the second half and in the first half. We got some defensive stops and didn’t convert on the other end.”
The team has seen major production from Ben Ringeisen in the middle. He’s averaging a team-high 17 points per game. Junior Colby Mignogna (12 points) and Josh Winek (10) round out a trio that can spread the ball around.
“We have ups and downs on offense sometimes,” said Ringeisen, who also praised the play of senior Brandon Sickles and junior Luke Lindgren.
“But when it’s flowing, I think we can compete with anyone. Brandon and Luke are our spark plugs, and if Josh gets hot, he can turn a game around.”
Lafko wants improved offensive consistency, whether it’s shot selection, mitigating turnovers or reading the defense and executing a cut or post-up.
“I think we have a lot of athletes on our team,” Ringeisen said. “We need to use that to our advantage. Sometimes, we just get stagnant and hesitate, and that’s not what we want to do.”
On the other end, the team’s size and athleticism have helped it stand out. Hampton had given up 893 points as of Wednesday night, third best in Class 5A.
“I think we’re long in our zone defense,” Lafko said. “We have some guys that are able to defend the perimeter and rebound in the post. I like where we are defensively, protecting the power area which is that 15-foot space close to the basket.”
Ringeisen said the team takes pride in its defense, particularly on an offensive off night.
“I think Brandon gets us to where we need to be mentally,” Ringeisen said. “Him and Luke are everywhere, Colby blocks a lot of shots. … I know Brandon and Luke would rather have five steals than 20 points. I think everyone is unselfish and just looking to help each other.”
Maintaining high performance could turn some of those tough losses to wins.
The Talbots played section rival and top-ranked Mars to a halftime stalemate before giving up a big second-half run. That same week against Franklin Regional, they outscored the Panthers the rest of the game after a paltry first quarter.
“Coach always says you have to play 32 minutes of basketball,” Ringeisen said. “Not 28 or 24 minutes. I think that week we played them, we realized we’re right there.”
Devon Moore is a freelance writer.