HAMPDEN, Maine — Hampden Academy girls basketball coach Chad Bradbury knew the tall task his team was facing Wednesday night.
Edward Little’s matchup zone defense is one of the toughest in the state, and the Broncos were without offensive weapon Julia Snyder, vacationing with family in Pennsylvania.
Hampden hung tough, but it was too much Kirsten Prue and Kayla Cummings, who torched the Broncos for 37 combined points and an 18-for-18 effort from the foul line as the Red Eddies from Auburn pulled away for a 46-33 victory in a KVAC Class A crossover matchup.
With Snyder away and junior guard Michaela Stephenson on the bench with three fouls for much of the first half — she picked up her third halfway through the opening quarter — Helene Sherburne hit some big shots for Hampden in the first half, including back-to-back 3-pointers to start the second quarter and for EL coach Craig Jipson to talk things over a bit.
“Hampden shot the ball really well. When we left them open they really made us pay,” said Jipson, whose club improved to 6-1.
Even though the Broncos shot fairly well, they had a hard time attacking the basket against the Eddies’ zone and EL forced 15 turnovers, with Cummings and Crissy Lewis pacing that effort with three steals apiece.
“I thought we took them out of a little bit of a rhythm of their offense with our quarter-court defense,” Jipson said.
Cummings, who finished with 18 points, hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 2:02 left in the first half to ignite a 15-3 run over the course of the second and third quarters that turned a 19-19 tie into a 36-22 EL cushion.
“Usually at the end of halves we usually come out with some sort of run, so we just have to be patient and let our offense do its thing,” said Cummings.
Prue, who with Cummings are Jipson’s lone seniors, poured in 19 points and was 8-for-8 at the line – with all eight of those free throws coming in the second half.
“We work a lot during practice on free throws, and I think it showed during the game,” said Prue.
The Broncos, who dipped to 4-3, had yet to see a zone yet this winter, and couldn’t adjust sufficiently.
“You try to do good stuff on it and it’s hard,” said Bradbury. “It’s something we don’t see anywhere. We haven’t seen a zone all year. That’s impressive.”
Hampden got no closer than 10 in the fourth quarter, as the Eddies sank their free throws to keep their distance.
“What I was really happy with was how well we shot from the free-throw line,” Jipson said.
Sherburne’s nine points led Hampden while Whitney Moore hauled down 10 rebounds.