DeSoto big men Terry Maston and Devin Wyatt blocked three shots in the first four possessions and dominated the paint throughout the contest. Wyatt was the difference in the game, as he finished with 12 blocks and, with Maston, altered several others as the duo led DeSoto to the 46-34 win.
"You saw how hard Devin played," said DeSoto head coach Chris Dyer. "We knew that they were very physical and strong inside, and we preached that we had to have an inside presence on both ends.
"Devin just played his butt off. He saved a lot of folks tonight."
"We attack," said Hampton coach Eric Brown. "Wyatt had 12 blocks, he's going to have to block 13. That's the way we play. We're not going to back down from anyone.
"I thought sometimes we could have went quick and got the shot up... I think we hesitated and shot-faked when we didn't need a shot-fake. The size was a problem, without a doubt, but it's not going to discourage us."
NC State signee Anthony Barber was the only Crabber to have any sort of success scoring in the paint, but DeSoto did a good job of keeping him out of the paint, often forcing Barber to attempt contested jumpshots.
"That never stopped us from going inside," Barber said of DeSoto's size. "More teams have more size than us but that never stops us... if we keep going, eventually we're going to get around them and score. We kept going at them and we started getting buckets."
Barber said afterwards that he turned his ankle on a play midway through the second quarter and that also limited his aggressiveness in attacking the rim.
He finished with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-21 shooting from the field. He hit just 1-of-6 3-point attempts and knocked in 4-of-6 free throws.
Dyer and star senior Matt Jones, a Duke signee who scored 18 points, knew going in that they had to contain Barber if DeSoto was going to defeat Hampton.
"He's good," Dyer said of Barber. "He's good. The ACC is very fortunate to have [Barber and Jones] next year. You guys are going to have a great time watching them."
"It was great [playing against Barber]," said Jones. "It was fun to play against him, but ultimately I just wanted the win being a competitor."
"That wasn't a big deal," added Barber. "We're both great players and people want to see that, but that's not in our gameplan. We just came out to play the game. He's a good player, and I'm a good player. I wasn't caught up in me and Matt. I just played the game."
Hampton returns to the court Saturday at 4:00 pm against Raleigh (NC) Broughton High School. Barber, who led his team to a state title as a junior, knows they are going to bring the same intensity in the third-place game.
"We lost this game," he said. "Obviously we can't play in the championship game, but we still want to finish strong, come in third. We don't want to just come here, lose and feel like it's over.
"We're going to come here tomorrow and come into this game just like this game and the first game and try to win."