BREWER, Maine — Junior guard/forward Jordan Maxwell was the prime example of the hot shooting hands the Hampden Academy girls basketball team displayed against Brewer Friday afternoon.
Maxwell scored a game-high 17 points, including four 3-pointers, as the Broncos jumped ahead quickly and held off the Witches 54-45 at the Brewer High gym.
“We had a good week,” said Hampden coach Chad Bradbury, pointing out that his team didn’t have to worry about any games before Friday.
“We had four consecutive practices [this week] where we worked hard, and it showed today,” said senior guard Ashley Danforth, who added 13 points for the Broncos.
Some of that work involved shooting, and it paid off. The Broncos shot 47.4 percent from the field for the game and almost as good on 3s (46.7 percent).
“It’s amazing what a little practice can for you,” said a smiling Bradbury.
Senior forward Helene Sherburne posted 11 points for Hampden.
Getting Maxwell, Danforth and Sherburne their points each game is a key goal for Bradbury.
“I need 30 points [combined] from those three every night, and we got 41,” said Bradbury, quickly checking the totals.
“We knew they could shoot the ball well,” said Brewer coach Andy Nickerson. “I think we gave them more space than we needed to.
“But you have to give Hampden credit, they made the shots.”
“We came out with confidence today,” said Maxwell.
Junior forward Morgan Small led a gritty Witches squad with 13 points, and junior guard Alexa Grindle registered 10.
Brewer tried to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, cutting a 19-point HA lead at the end of three quarters down to nine in the closing seconds.
“That’s when we started bringing the intensity,” said Small, who was shooting from outside and driving inside trying to get layups or fouls throughout the game.
“We needed to start [the intense play] earlier,” added Small.
Two of Maxwell’s 3s were particularly crushing as she hit one at the buzzer to end the first quarter and the other came with 9.7 seconds left in the second quarter to conclude the first-half scoring.
Maxwell had a lot of support from beyond the arc as the Broncos hit 7-of-15 for the game, including six in the first half.
Ellie Webb’s 3-pointer 1:51 into the game put Hampden (3-3) up 3-2 and triggered a 17-2 run from which the Witches (2-4) never were able to recover.
Maxwell followed Webb’s basket with driving runner in the lane, and Sherburne hit a 3 from the top of the key. Lindsay Houp hit two free throws for Brewer, but Sherburne hit two free throws of her own, Maxwell hit her first 3 and Danforth hit two baskets to complete the run.
Houp halted the run with a layup and free throw, but Maxwell’s second 3 at the buzzer negated Houp’s effort.
“We took good shots, but they weren’t going in,” said Small of Brewer’s efforts throughout the game. “But when they [bounce] out, you’ve got to get the rebound.”
The Broncos didn’t concede anything, though, fighting for every loose ball and rebound.
“I think Hampden brought more energy than we did,” said Nickerson.
The Witches’ defensive plan was to slow Hampden down with a full-court press and switching between zone and man-to-man defenses.
The early, deep deficit ended that, according to Nickerson.
“By getting down, we had to stay with the man [defense],” he said.
The Broncos’ lead fluctuated between nine and 19 points the rest of the game.
When the 3s stopped falling, Hampden drove inside more.
“When you’re not shooting well, you need to be able to take it inside,” said Danforth.
Small tried to take on more responsibility, scoring seven of her team’s 11 points in the third quarter. Hampden countered with 18 points, including five each from Danforth and Maxwell and four from Alex Winchester, to pad their lead.
“I told them at halftime that we had to withstand their run,” said Bradbury.
The Broncos did.
“They’re maturing every day, every week,” said Bradbury. “Last year, none of those kids had any pressure moments.”