Hampton Boys Basketball Clinches a Playoff Spot for the 18th-Straight Season


Photo via Christopher Horner

Garrett Gess, Writer

After a home win against Shaler, the Talbots boys basketball team has clinched a playoff spot for the 18th-straight season. The feat ranks in the Top 10 out of the longest WPIAL boys basketball playoff streaks. Hampton is experiencing vast improvements from last season as they currently have a 7-4 conference record and are 12-8 overall.

Last season, Hampton had a very young roster in addition to several quarantine-related issues, causing Hampton to play at less strength. The Talbots had a 3-9 conference record and were 4-16 overall. The playoff streak continued in 2021 as the WPIAL had an open playoff bracket due to COVID-19. Hampton was seeded No. 16 in 5A and would’ve missed the playoffs if it were a typical 12-team WPIAL playoff bracket. Hampton hosted No. 17 McKeesport in the playoffs, losing 73-49.

This year, Hampton ranked at No. 28 in MaxPreps AAAAA Pennsylvania High School Basketball Rankings and moved up after their win over No. 22 Shaler. The Talbots win/loss record is above average, but Hampton faces some of the toughest competition in the state by playing in the WPIAL. Let alone the challenges in Class 5A Section 4, Hampton scheduled tough non-conference matchups against Fox Chapel, North Hills, and Butler.

The Talbots are building some late-season momentum with 4-straight wins over Armstrong, Fairview, Shaler, and Indiana. Before the winning streak, Hampton lost a heartbreaker to Deer Lakes in the 4th quarter by blowing a 44-32 lead. Hampton comes into this year’s playoffs with a more experienced roster and has much higher expectations than last season. The Talbots have three seniors: Matt DeMatteo, Bobby Oliver, and Zander Plizga, with a strong group of juniors having starting roles.

Hampton will wrap up the season with a home game against Mars this Friday. The Mars Planets are undefeated in conference play, and the Talbots are seeking to end their run and build even more momentum going into the playoffs. The Hampton-Mars rivalry has a lot of history, having another renewal. From 2006-2013, Hampton was 13-3 in games against Mars during a stretch in which the Talbots were dominant in WPIAL basketball, with many trips to the PIAA Tournament. Mars has taken control over the rivalry in recent years as Hampton has a 4-16 record against Mars since 2015.  Hampton is eager to flip the script and take back control of the rivalry.

The Talbots regular season will conclude by hosting the Butler Tornado next Tuesday. Hampton looks to avenge last year’s overtime loss at Butler.

WPIAL 5A Basketball Rankings, via MaxPreps:

#1 New Castle (16-1)

#2 Mars (15-2)

#3 Laurel Highlands (18-0)

#4 Penn Hills (15-3)

#5 Gateway (11-5)

#6 Highlands (14-5)

#7 South Fayette (11-6)

#8 Shaler (11-8)

#9 Kiski Area (14-6)

#10 Hampton (11-8)