AUGUSTA — The Bangor and Edward Little boys basketball teams have not faced each other yet this season.
But that doesn’t mean they’re unfamiliar opponents heading into Friday night’s clash for the Eastern Maine Class A championship at the Augusta Civic Center.
The teams have met during postseason play in each of the last three years, with EL winning twice en route to regional championships in 2009 and 2010.
Bangor won the first of the recent tournament meetings, with its 61-54 win over the Red Eddies in the 2008 Eastern Maine, the penultimate step in the Rams’ run to that year’s state championship.
EL knocked off Bangor during the regional semifinals each of the last two years, 44-39 in 2009 and 60-57 in overtime last winter.
Coach Roger Reed’s top-ranked Bangor club will carry a 19-game winning streak into the regional final, including a 67-38 quarterfinal victory over No. 8 Brunswick and a 41-34 survival of No. 4 Mt. Blue of Bangor in Wednesday’s semifinals.
In the win over Mt. Blue, the Rams withstood foul trouble to guard Tristan Thomas and center Josiah Hartley — who also was bloodied early in the game by an errant elbow to his forehead — as well as having Zach Blodgett coping with an ankle injury suffered during the quarterfinals.
But junior forward Patrick Stewart scored 14 points and keyed a defensive effort that limited Mt. Blue star Cam Sennick to seven points, and senior point guard Luke Hetterman also delivered some strong play to advance Bangor to its sixth regional final in 11 years.
One of Bangor’s big defensive challenges against Edward Little will be to contain Red Eddies’ star Bo Leary, a 6-foot-4 senior forward who averaged 23.1 points during the regular season and 16.5 points in his team’s earlier tourney wins over Mount Ararat of Topsham (66-48) and Hampden Academy (70-65).
Senior point guard Tim Mains has scored 14 points in each of EL’s postseason victories, while sophomore forward Quin Leary (13.0 ppg) has been another consistent offensive source for coach MIke Adams’ third-seeded Red Eddies (19-1).
Broncos seek to end title drought
While the Bangor boys basketball team has won four state championships since the turn of the century, Hampden Academy will try to win the school’s first regional title in girls basketball since the Broncos won the Class A state crown in 1976.
That chance comes at 7 p.m. Friday when third-ranked Hampden (18-2) takes on No. 8 Messalonskee of Oakland (11-9) at the Augusta Civic Center.
Coach Chad Bradbury’s Hampden club, which lost in the semifinals last winter, took the next step Wednesday with a 50-47 semifinal win over Edward Little that avenged a 20-point regular-season loss to the Red Eddies.
Experience played a key role in that contest, as Hampden’s roster features seven seniors and nine core players overall back from last winter’s tourney run.
“That is really helpful because everyone has composure and everyone wants it because it’s do or die,” said Hampden senior guard Katelyn DeRaps after the semifinal win. “If we lose we’re done for high school, and we don’t want it to end yet.”
Senior guard Michaela Stephenson, whose mother played on the 1976 Hampden title team, has led a balanced Broncos’ offense during postseason play with 14 points during a 47-27 quarterfinal win over Mount Ararat of Topsham and 13 points in the semifinals.
But classmates DeRaps, Whitney Moore, Julia Snyder, Sarah Lamberton, Kate Parsons and Courtney Doyon and junior Helene Sherburne also have been major contributors, especially on defense where the Broncos are yielding just 37 points per game during postseason play.
Hampden already owns two wins over Messalonskee this winter, 50-43 at Hampden on Jan. 11 and 52-31 at Oakland on Feb. 8.
But Messalonskee seemingly has regrouped after losing five of its last seven regular-season contests, upsetting No. 1 Morse of Bath 53-43 in the quarterfinals and then holding off No. 4 Cony of Augusta 48-44 in the semifinals.
Coach Brenda Beckwith’s club is paced by a pair of transfers, junior point guard Mary Badeen from Nokomis of Newport and 6-1 junior center Megan Pelletier from Winslow. Pelletier has averaged 16.5 ppg during postseason play, while Badeen is at 12.5 ppg.