HAMPDEN, Maine — All week the Hampden Academy girls worked on their outside shooting in preparation for Friday night’s basketball game against Bangor.
“That’s all we did all week in practice was shoot the ball,” said Hampden coach Chad Bradbury. “Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, it was shoot, shoot, shoot.”
By Friday, the Broncos had their hot hands down cold, shooting 10 for 27 on 3-pointers and overwhelming the Rams 52-40 at the Hampden Academy gym.
Junior guard Jordan Maxwell hit four of the Broncos’ 10 3-pointers, including three in a one-minute stretch of the third quarter, on the way to a game-high 16 points. Senior forward Helene Sherburne added three 3s and finished with 13 points, and junior guard Ellie Webb hit two 3s as she totaled eight points for Hampden (7-5).
“It was a good momentum shift,” said Sherburne. “When they start to fall, you want to keep shooting.”
“All week we practiced our five-out offense,” said Hampden senior guard Ashley Danforth. “It really showed tonight. We shot lights out.”
The offense is designed to keep the ball moving among all five players on the outside until the Broncos find an opening.
“If we get five or six passes, [defenders] get tired,” said Sherburne. “Then we can find an opening inside or kick it out [for an open 3-pointer].”
Bangor coach Katie Herbine saw the Broncos grab the edge early with four 3s that gave HA a 16-2 lead in the first quarter. She knew that spelled trouble.
“Any team that hits 10 3s is going to be tough to beat. It’s tough to make up when you’re an inside team,” said Herbine, whose Rams (5-7) used their height in the season opener at Red Barry Gym in Bangor to beat a cold-shooting Hampden 47-21.
“Their height bothers us,” said Bradbury, who worked on getting his players to collapse on Bangor senior center Katie Brochu and clog up the inside to prevent freshman forward Mary Butler and junior forward Kayla Snow from creating easy shots.
“I told them we don’t lose in the paint,” he said. “If they beat us, they beat us outside. We’re not going to lose in the paint.”
Brochu found the going difficult.
“Incredibly [difficult],” she said. “I knew they were at least double-teaming and even triple-teaming me. I couldn’t always see them, but when I turned to shoot, it seemed like there were a million arms in there.”
Brochu spent much of the night trying to shake Hampden defenders, but she did erupt for all 11 of her points in the third quarter as Bangor closed the margin to six points at 38-32 early in the fourth quarter.
Junior point guard Denae Johnson finished with nine points for Bangor.
Both teams struggled offensively to start the game, but Maxwell hit a 3 with 4:40 remaining in the first quarter that started Hampden’s first 3-point barrage.
Webb hit the next one and Sherburne added two to complete the Broncos’ 16-point run after Johnson opened the game with a driving layup for the Rams.
Butler hit a free throw and a 3 for Bangor to close the gap to 16-6 at the end of the quarter, but Hampden pushed it back to 14 at halftime.
Maxwell then hit her three 3s in the third to give Hampden a 34-17 edge, the first from the left corner, the second from just right of the top of the arc and the third a 22-footer.
It was all part of Bradbury’s plan. They even came up a little short on it.
“Our goal was to shoot 30 3s,” said Bradbury. “We shoot about 30 percent on 3s and 36 percent on 2s. It just makes more sense to shoot 3s.”
After Bangor cut the gap to 38-32, Webb hit a 3 and a layup, Bangor’s Johnson sank a short jumper and Sherburne followed with a 3 and a free throw to make it 47-34 with 3:39 remaining.
Within a couple of minutes, both teams were unloading their benches.
“I thought we earned the win,” said Danforth, “and we deserved it.”