AUGUSTA, Maine — As the only player with tournament experience on a team with no seniors, Katelyn DeRaps served as an elder stateswoman both on and off the court for the Hampden Academy girls basketball team Friday afternoon.
First, there was some pregame advice.
“I just told them not to be nervous, that it’s really exciting so just keep your composure,” said DeRaps, a junior guard who saw tourney duty for Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln the past two seasons before transferring to Hampden.
Then there was the midgame cool of a veteran sharpshooter, a 13-point second-quarter exhibition by DeRaps that propelled the seventh-ranked Broncos to a 48-35 victory over No. 2 Edward Little of Auburn in an Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinal at the Augusta Civic Center.
The win was Hampden’s seventh straight overall and advances the 13-6 Broncos to a regional semifinal Wednesday against No. 3 Brunswick. The Dragons (15-4) ousted defending regional champion Messalonskee of Oakland 65-55 in their quarterfinal earlier in the day.
“This means a lot because we haven’t been here for quite a while,” said Hampden junior forward Julia Snyder. “We’re making goals that we try to keep on fulfilling, and this was one of them.”
Edward Little ended its season with a 13-6 record.
DeRaps, who missed her first four shots of the game, hit 5 of 8 tries during the second quarter — including three 3-pointers — as Hampden outscored the Red Eddies 22-6 to turn a 9-8 first-quarter deficit into a 30-15 lead by intermission.
“A shooter’s got to keep shooting,” said Hampden coach Chad Bradbury, “and Katelyn gave us that huge lead going into halftime. With our team, some nights it’s her, and some nights it’s somebody else. We’re pretty well rounded, and that helps.”
DeRaps’ final 3-pointer of the period, off a feed from Helene Sherburne, came just as the halftime buzzer sounded.
“Everyone can shoot,” said DeRaps, who finished with a game-high 15 points. “We just needed to get to our spots, set screens for each other and eventually we’d be open for the shots.”
Hampden made that lead stand up with stifling defense that limited Edward Little to just nine field goals in the game — two in the first half — on 21 percent shooting from the field.
“Once we knocked a few down a few shots we got on a roll,” said Snyder, who scored 11 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. “Then our defense picked up. We all started talking and everyone’s energy kept going up.”
Hampden stretched its lead to as much as 37-19 thanks to a 7-0 run early in the second half that featured a 3-pointer and a baseline drive by junior guard Michaela Stephenson (10 points) and a jumper by Sherburne set up by an accurate skip pass across the defense by Ashley Danforth.
Edward Little, which won just once in its final six games after losing star point guard Kirsten Prue to injury, did muster a run of eight unanswered points to get within 37-29 on a follow-up shot by freshman Ashlee Arnold 20 seconds into the fourth quarter.
But Snyder and Courtney Doyon each scored for Hampden after grabbing offensive rebounds, and Snyder followed that by grabbing a defensive rebound and driving the length of the court for a layup to restore the Broncos to a 43-29 lead with 4:29 left in the game.
“You’ve got to feel bad for Edward Little not having their star player, but opportunity knocks, it could happen to anybody,” said Bradbury.
“It was a great opportunity for us, kids with no experience. My fear coming down here was we’ve never played in a place like this with no background, and surprisingly we came down and hit some shots. In the first half they went in, and that was just a huge relief.”
Arnold and Kayla Cummings — the lone senior on the court for either team — each scored 11 points for Edward Little.