HAMPDEN, Maine — What’s the perfect gift for a high school basketball player celebrating his birthday?
How about a great big hoop at which to shoot?
The basket wasn’t any larger than normal at Hampden Academy on Saturday, but on the day senior forward Jacob Moore turned 18 it wasn’t difficult for him to find — especially during the first half as he scored 22 of his game-high 26 points to lead the Broncos to a 74-52 victory over Cony of Augusta.
The win gave Hampden a sweep of its Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A doubleheader, as the school’s girls squad took another step toward securing a postseason berth with a 52-37 win over the visiting Rams.
In the boys game, Moore shot 8 of 13 from the field in the first half — including 4 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc — as Hampden raced out to a 41-21 lead at intermission.
“Once you hit a couple,” said Moore, “the basket just seems that much bigger and you can’t miss.”
Hampden’s early offensive burst was a continuation from their first meeting this season with Cony, when the Broncos erupted for 95 points in a 42-point victory at Augusta.
“I’m not really sure why that is other than the fact that because of their matchup zone, we’re a little more patient offensively,” said Hampden coach Russ Bartlett. “Consequently we move the ball better. We’re not trying to force the issue as much, and tonight it led to good shots because we’re really unselfish.”
Hampden (11-4) shot 55 percent (29 of 53) from the field overall, and evidence of productive ball movement came in the Broncos’ 22 assists on their 29 baskets.
“That’s a good sign,” said Hampden junior point guard Graham Safford, who had a game-high eight assists. “Everyone’s finding the open man and we’re knocking down shots.”
Moore also grabbed six rebounds, while frontcourt mate Noah Burditt added 14 points and seven rebounds.
Sophomore forward Walker Cooper led 7-7 Cony with 15 points, while senior center Charlie Partridge added 10 points and seven rebounds.
In the girls game, two 3-pointers by Katelyn DeRaps late in the first half served dual purposes — they sparked Hampden to a 24-19 halftime lead, and they opened up space in the lane for even higher-percentage shots by the Broncos after intermission.
Hampden (9-6) outscored the Rams 8-1 to end the second quarter, then scored the first six points of the second half to move out to a 30-19 lead on a layup by Julia Snyder with 5:07 left in the third quarter.
Cony (6-8) got no closer than nine the rest of the way, in stark contrast to their earlier meeting this season, when the Rams rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to score a 50-44 victory.
“They cut our lead down the last time because we weren’t stepping up and they did step up,” said Hampden guard Michaela Stephenson. “This game we played consistent throughout the whole game, and in the end I think we outworked them.”
DeRaps and Stephenson each scored 14 points for Hampden and combined to make 5 of 9 2-point attempts. Stephenson also grabbed seven rebounds, while Snyder contributed nine points and eight rebounds.
When the teams played at Augusta, that trio was held to six points.
“This time we held strong, the kids played tough,” said Hampden coach Chad Bradbury, whose team entered the game ranked seventh in Eastern A, one spot ahead of Cony, which was holding the final tournament slot.
“They came at us, but we took care of the ball and kept attacking.”
Hampden’s defense also limited Cony to just 22 percent (12 of 54) shooting from the field.
“We’re capable of scoring points, but we’ve got to keep thinking defense first,” said Bradbury.
Point guard MacKenzie Dufour paced Cony with 11 points, while Mia Diplock scored 10 points and Julia Bush grabbed seven rebounds.