HAMPDEN — Any basketball coach will tell you there is no such thing as a perfect game, but the Hampden Academy girls were pretty darn close to that Friday night.
The Broncos were dynamite on both ends of the floor, as Michaela Stephenson led a balanced offense with 21 points to power coach Chad Bradbury’s club to a 68-44 KVAC Class A victory over Bangor.
“We were shooting great, our defensive pressure was awesome, everyone was working really well tonight,” said Stephenson, whose Broncos improved to 9-1 while Bangor fell to 5-5.
The Rams actually led 8-4 about two minutes into the game, but that’s when Hampden woke up, embarking on a 23-0 run which spanned nearly a quarter as the Broncos stampeded out to a 27-8 lead.
Helene Sherburne’s 3-pointer from the left corner put Hampden ahead to stay, and Whitney Moore scored six of her eight points during that span. By the time Bangor’s Kristen Henigan converted a follow-up basket 5:51 before halftime, the Broncos were well in command.
“Not only were we making our shots, we were providing the defensive pressure on the other end,” said Stephenson, who scored 10 points during Hampden’s run.
The Broncos shot a robust 13-for-30 (43 percent) in the first half in taking a 34-12 lead into halftime, but the Rams tried to chip away coming out of the locker room, with Hillary Throckmorton drilling a couple of perimeter shots to spark a 9-0 run. But Stephenson hit a jumper from up top and Kate Parsons canned a 3-pointer from the left corner to put Hampden back in control.
Hampden had been struggling with its shooting over the last few games, so Bradbury was happy to see his club piece together a complete offensive game, as every Bronco scored at least two points.
“We’ve been waiting for more than one girl to have a great shooting night at the same time,” he said. “Two or three girls got hot, that was nice to see.”
They included Sherburne and Moore, as both stepped in and made key offensive contributions after Parsons picked up three first-quarter fouls.
Moore, who also hauled down nine rebounds, was particularly tough underneath, with virtually all of her shots coming within 10 feet of the bucket.
“Kate is usually a big part of our offensive team, so I knew I had to step up,” Moore said. “We had been working a lot about going up strong in practice, so a lot of them were just putbacks that I got underneath the hoop, so I just went strong.”
Moore and Parsons each finished with eight points for Hampden, with Sherburne and Katelyn DeRaps each contributing seven.
“Everyone contributed tonight, not only (with) points, but everyone’s getting up in passing lanes, on shots, everything was working,” said Stephenson.
Hampden’s full-court pressure and quickness helped force 18 Bangor turnovers, and although the Rams played well during the second half, coach Katie Herbine’s team was in too big of a hole early.
“We’ve got to learn how to play 32 minutes, so Hampden played a great game,” Herbine said.
The Broncos mixed up between man and zone throughout the game, with the likes of guards Sherburne, Moore and Parsons giving Bangor fits with their length.
“It helps that we have the nice long arms to get the steals,” Moore said. “We gave them a lot of turnovers. Our defense turns into our offense.”
Julia Snyder fueled Hampden’s defense with three steals while Stephenson and DeRaps each collected two, and the Broncos did a good job maintaining their composure when the Rams made their run early in the second half.
“We knew they weren’t going to give up, so we had to come out strong,” Stephenson said. “It was just a matter of staying strong with the ball, staying composed on offense and getting stops on defense.”
Throckmorton was Bangor’s lone double-figure scorer with 15 points.