HAMPDEN, Maine – They appeared to have things sealed and delivered, but the Skowhegan girls basketball team didn’t count on a Hampden Academy perimeter onslaught Tuesday night.
The Indians, who led by 19 points early in the fourth quarter, watched as that lead was sliced to a not-so-comfortable eight with just under a minute and a half to play.
But Whitney Jones and company responded, as she came away with steals on Hampden’s next two possessions after a Kate Parsons perimeter shot with 1:27 remaining and the undefeated Indians came away with a 61-49 Class A victory.
“I think our defensive intensity kind of dropped a little bit and we were late to some close-outs,” said Skowhegan coach Heath Cowan, whose club improves to 12-0 and maintains the top spot in Eastern Maine Class A.
Hampden, which came in seventh, is now 6-5.
After Amanda Johnson’s short jumper in the paint gave Skowhegan its biggest lead of the night at 51-32 just 20 seconds into the fourth, the Broncos went on a 14-6 run to make it interesting, as Parsons and Katelyn DeRaps each hit two shots from beyond the arc over that span.
While most of that was attributed to solid Bronco shooting, the Indians know they made a few lapses on defense.
“Mostly lack of communication pretty much,” said Jones, who led the Indians with 16 points. “Coach told us to kick it into gear with communication.
Jones’ steal and fast-break layup with a minute to play put Skowhegan’s lead back into double-figures.
It appeared early on this one would be a rout, as Hampden struggled to adapt to the Indians’ fullcourt press while Skowhegan’s offense exploited the Broncos’ 2-3 zone with quick inside penetration.
“I think early they were trying to take the shot away from Johnson, our leading scorer and the leading 3-point shooter in the league,” Cowan said.
That opened things up for Jones and Liz Noddin, and Noddin scored 10 of her 15 points in the opening quarter as Skowhegan opened up a 20-8 lead, closing the period on an 11-0 run.
Jones, who also had four steals, scored six of her points in the second quarter as Skowhegan took an 11-point lead into halftime.
But Hampden refused to go down quietly, and the Broncos shot 11-for-25 from the perimeter as a whole while Michaela Stephenson, who led all scorers with 18 points, was 3-for-6, DeRaps 4-for-8 and Parsons 3-for-6.
“We hang in there, all season long our girls have fought right until the end,” said Broncos coach Chad Bradbury.
Even though the Broncos did hang in there, their defense couldn’t slow Skowhegan’s balanced offense, as four Indians scored in double figures, with Adrienne Davis adding 11 points and Johnson 10.
“Its been that way all year, Whitney led us in scoring first time this year,” Cowan said. “I think all seven players that scored today led us in scoring [in a game] at some point in time over the course of the year.”
Noddin dismissed the idea that the Indians were content to sit on their lead late in the game.
“No, we had to pull together and play good defense,” she said. We just had to pull together as a team and hit our shots.”