Championship Notebook: Hampton finishes on top at end of difficult senior season

bvanderbeek@modbee.comMarch 28, 2014 

— For one very brief moment, Modesto Christian fans got to see the quickness of Jasmine Hampton.

It happened early in the fourth quarter of the Crusaders’ 64-55 victory over Santa Barbara in Friday afternoon’s Division 3 state title game.

The senior took one dribble to the right near the bottom of the free throw circle, then did a quick 360 degree spin over her right shoulder and finished at the basket.

It was legal, but so quick and unexpected that the official whistled Hampton for traveling. Obviously, if he couldn’t make that move in his prime, Hampton couldn’t possibly have made it without taking that extra step.

“I’m used to having that called against me,” Hampton said. “It’s called in league and it happened a couple time in the playoffs so I can’t be frustrated by it.”

Nor should she be frustrated, at least not by a call that didn’t go her way in the season’s ultimate game.

Hampton was supposed to be a very key player in any run made by the Crusaders this season. Instead, she missed most of her senior season with an ankle injury, seeing only token time and never reaching double figures in scoring or rebounding in 12 regular season games.

So every time Modesto Christian won a postseason game, it gave Hampton another few days to heal and one more chance to play.

Hampton showed she was back with a 16-rebound performance against Vanden in the NorCal playoffs, then had 12 points and nine rebounds in the regional title victory over Enterprise.

She finished her high school career with 10 points and four rebounds in 11 minutes against Santa Barbara, one of several Crusaders who faced foul trouble before fouling out.

“I’ve been trying to get back to 100 percent the last couple of games and it finally felt that way in our last game last week,” Hampton said. “I went out there today and it really felt good.”

And when the championship trophy entered the designated interview area, it was Hampton who carried it in. Despite only seeing action in 19 of MC’s 35 games this season, she walked away (not limping) satisfied with the ending.

“I definitely think everything happens for a reason, and I guess I sat out to make it feel so much better when it did end this way,” she said. “I’m definitely happy.”

An even 10 for Stanislaus District – Modesto Christian’s victory gave the Stanislaus District 10 state championships in basketball since the current regional format was adopted in 1981.

The first came way back in 1984, when Modesto High as the Division 2 boys’ title.

Since then, the Calaveras girls won in Division 3 in 1986, Ripon Christian’s girls in Division 5 in 1988 and 1994, the Ripon Christian boys in Division 5 in 1988, 92 and 94 and the Modesto Christian boys in 1997 and 2004, also in Division 5.

Records for SB’s Melgoza – Santa Barbara’s impressive sophomore guard Amber Melgoza tied the Division 3 girls’ championship record with 30 points, and it came in what might best be called a Kobe-esque effort.

She was 5-for-24 from the field, but stepped to the line for 28 free throws, making 20, to set state title game records in both cases for all divisions, boys or girls.

The previous girls’ record for free throws made was 13, by Candice Wiggins of La Jolla Country Day in its Division 5 victory over Modesto Christian in 2002. The record for free throws taken was 20 by Mariya Moore of Salesian in last year’s Division 4 game.

Melgoza went 10-for-16 at the line in the game’s final 5 minutes, 10 seconds as the Dons finished 25 of 36 at the line. Modesto Christian finished 15-for-26 at the stripe.

It was the plan of MC coach Robb Spencer to make Melgoza earn all her points, whether through tight defense or physical play.

“That was the plan. Well, that, and don’t foul her,” Spencer said, rolling his eyes.

A sign, but not from above – There was confusion among the Modesto Christian faithful regarding a sign made by students to support the team.

It was a large banner, citing Philippians 4:13, with the verse “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

Modesto Christian students asked to post the banner in the arena, which is allowed by the CIF to be done only on the rails in front of that school’s student section, and then only if the banner does not cover a sponsor’s sign. This sign simply was too large to be posted, so it never went up.

Somehow, word moved from the student section to the area where MC parents and supporters were sitting that the CIF forced removal of the sign because the Bible verse might offend someone.

CIF executive Mike Garrison said the tone or content of the message was never in question, and under no circumstances would the CIF have denied the posting of the banner because of that type of message.

“No one asked if they could hold it up – they wanted to know if they could hang it,” Garrison said. “They were really nice about it. I told them that they could hang the sign as long as it didn’t cover up any sponsorships, but there was never any conversation about them holding the sign.”

Philippians, revisited – That particular verse was displayed, however, on special player credentials the team members made and distributed among themselves.

On one side of the 3x5-inch laminate was the team photo taken on the court after last Saturday’s NorCal victory at American Canyon High School over Enterprise of Redding, with the word “family” written above the image.

On the reverse was the Bible verse with two other non-Biblical inspirations, plus the words “D3 NorCal Champs” and “32 minutes away from history.”

Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at bvanderbeek@modbee.com or (209) 578-2150. His blog is at www.modbee.com/brianvanderbeek.

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