April 25, 2018
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Broncos’ inside strength overwhelms Brewer boys

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

BREWER — The big guys on the Hampden Academy boys basketball team concentrated on defense during the Broncos' season-opening win over Bangor last Saturday.

Given a chance to show off their offensive skills against Brewer on Tuesday night, those frontcourt players similarly thrived, combining for 44 points on 63 percent shooting as Hampden rolled to an 89-49 victory over the Witches in the latest edition of their Class A rivalry.

The win ended Hampden's five-game losing streak against Brewer — including a defeat in their Eastern Maine Class A semifinal last February.

"We knew we could win," said Hampden sophomore forward Tyler Norris, who came off the bench to score a game-high 21 points. "It was just whether we played hard enough to win because they had beaten us five straight times before this.

"We had to prove ourselves tonight and we clearly did."

Junior center Fred Knight added 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds for the Broncos, while junior forward Logan Poirier added nine points to the frontcourt mix and senior forward Gabe Burditt scored just two points but teamed with senior guard Graham Safford to limit Brewer star Ray Bessette to 10 points on 2-of-16 shooting from the field.

"Gabe and Graham shared that assignment because we wanted to take a little pressure off Graham and keep him out of foul trouble," said Hampden coach Russ Bartlett. "We're trying to develop Gabe into a stopper because he's 6-4 and can move a little bit. I don't care a bit about his offense, I just care that he can guard people and he's starting to show that. He's a senior, and he's playing with that senior edge you need."

Norris, Knight, Poirier and Burditt combined to shoot 19 of 30 from the field, just slightly better than Hampden's overall 34 of 60, or 57 percent. The Broncos also forged a 41-24 rebounding advantage.

"We were much bigger than them, so we just pounded it inside and got good shots," said the 6-foot-7 Knight. "And getting it inside collapses the defense, and we have good shooters so we're able to get it back outside to them and then they can knock down shots."

Junior guard Christian McCue added 15 second-half points from the perimeter for Hampden, including three 3-pointers, while Safford added 13 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals.

Junior guard Yuhi Sasaki led 1-1 Brewer with 18 points.

Hampden took control midway through the first quarter with a nine-point run to pull away from a 4-4 tie, as Knight scored twice inside around a 3-pointer by Safford before Poirier scored from the lane to give the Broncos a 13-4 edge.

Then Norris came off the bench and made his first five shots, two medium-range jumpers and three layups, as the Broncos extended their lead to 26-9 by the end of the period.

Hampden was 12 of 17 from the field in the game's first eight minutes.

"We got the ball in the block against Bangor four times and we scored three times," said Bartlett, "so we thought we needed to do that more often, and we thought our 3-point shooters would open up if the ball gets inside the defense first. We did it a lot with the dribble the other day, but we want to do it with the pass and we did a much better job of that tonight."

Hampden's lead grew to as much as 37-11 before Brewer mounted a modest rally in the final three minutes of the half to close within 39-21 by intermission.

McCue then broke free for 10 points in the third quarter and Norris added seven as the Broncos outscored the Witches 27-10 to push the margin to 66-31 by the end of the period.

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