The Hampden Academy girls basketball team could be poised for a deep run into the Eastern Maine Class A tournament with its entire team returning from last winter’s club that reached the semifinals.
Even though the expectations are somewhat high for coach Chad Bradbury’s team, the Broncos have been staying humble throughout the preseason.
“Every team is really good, I can’t even think of a game that’s not going to be hard,” said senior guard Katelyn DeRaps. “Everyone thinks that we’ll be pretty good but I think a lot of teams are going to be good.”
That doesn’t mean the Broncos won’t be a strong contender for the Eastern Maine title, as they should be battling with the likes of Skowhegan and Bangor in the KVAC’s brutal North division.
“Right now we don’t want to set any huge expectations, but we’re definitely going to set the bar high this year because we know that we can just build from what we had last year,” senior guard Michaela Stephenson said.
Stephenson and DeRaps headline a 1-2 punch in Hampden’s backcourt, while other key returning players include Ashley Danforth, Julia Snyder, Whitney Moore, Courtney Doyon and Helene Sherburne, while sophomores Ellie Webb, Jordan Maxwell and Alex Winchester are added to the mix.
“They definitely made varsity for a reason and I think it only adds to our depth even more,” Stephenson said of the trio of sophomores.
Like a lot of teams, Hampden isn’t thinking about February now, but is looking forward to Saturday’s 1 p.m. season opener at Class A rival Bangor.
“We’re still working on getting better right now (but) when the time comes I think we’ll be ready to go,” DeRaps said.
Stephenson said Hampden has mainly been working on the little things.
“Increasing defensive pressure (and) cutting down turnovers is going to be a big thing, from there we can add things offensively and defensively,” Stephenson said.
With an influx of talent in the backcourt to go with some solid shooters and post threats, look for the Broncos to be tough defensively and fundamentally sound offensively.
“I think we’re just looking to add to what our style was last year and just execute,” said Stephenson. “We’ll still have the hustle element, the running element, but I think now we’re just going to break it down, get more technical, get better at every facet of the game.”
The experience of playing in the tournament should also help Hampden in the long run, as the Broncos looked up to DeRaps a great deal last winter because she was the only team member who had played in such a game when she was at Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln before transferring as a junior.
“Katelyn had really been in that situation before, so I think now that we’ve kind of paved the way, this year we’re looking to go even further,” Stephenson said.
DeRaps felt the atmosphere at the Augusta Civic Center took some getting used to, unlike that of the Bangor Auditorium.
“The auditorium’s more packed in and it’s more people and it’s louder, but the (Augusta Civic Center’s) more spaced out and it was actually a little bit different so it’s a little harder,” she said. “Now that I’m used to it it’ll be better this year.”
Bapst openers at Husson
The John Bapst girls and boys basketball teams respective home openers, slated for Saturday against Ellsworth, will take place at Husson University as opposed to the Crusaders’ usual home court, the Bangor Auditorium.
Sara Evans is slated to perform at the Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The girls game will tip off at 5:30 p.m. at Newman Gymnasium with the boys contest getting under way a little after 7.
EMITL meets open next weekend
The Eastern Maine Indoor Track League’s seven-meet regular season gets under way on Dec. 18 with two meets at the University of Maine in Orono.
Brewer, Bucksport, Central of Corinth, Ellsworth, Foxcroft Academy, Old Town and Mount Desert Island will be in one competition while the other features Bangor, Hampden, Hermon, John Bapst, Mattanawcook, Orono and Sumner of East Sullivan, with both starting at 2 p.m.
The schedule also includes the Black Bear Relays, slated for Jan. 15 at 9 a.m.
KVAC teams will once again be included this year, with a combined team featuring athletes from Rockand, Medomak Valley in Waldoboro and Camden Hills, along with Winslow, participating in the Jan. 7 meet while Waterville and Erskine Academy of Newcastle will run in separate competitions on Jan. 8.
The league championship meet will be run on Feb. 12, starting at 10 a.m., while the state championship meets are Feb. 21 at the University of Southern Maine (Class A) in Gorham and Bates College (Class B) in Lewiston.