AUGUSTA — Second-ranked Edward Little of Auburn needed both a strong start and a strong finish to hold off stubborn Hampden Academy 60-50 in their Eastern Maine Class A girls basketball quarterfinal at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday afternoon.
That’s because a 31-14 halftime advantage wasn’t enough to put the seventh-seeded Broncos away, as junior guard Jordan Maxwell made all five of her 3-point tries during the third quarter to go with some strong inside play from undersized center Ashley Danforth that nearly rallied Hampden all the way back.
But while the Broncos twice closed to within two points during the third quarter, they couldn’t muster the equalizing basket and finally EL regained control thanks to freshman guard Tianna Harriman, who scored 10 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter to help the Red Eddies pull away.
“Give kudos to them,” said Hampden coach Chad Bradbury. “The Harriman kid made some huge shots. Our focus was to shut down their two big players, and (Ashlee) Arnold got too many points in the first half but for the most part we did a pretty good job on them.
“They needed somebody else to step up for them, and she did.”
EL (16-3) will play No. 6 Skowhegan (12-7) in Wednesday’s semifinals. Skowhegan upset No. 3 Mt. Blue of Farmington 56-55 in overtime of the earlier game of the quarterfinal session.
Hampden Academy, the 2011 Eastern A champion, ends its season with a 10-9 record.
“We came out a little slow,” said Maxwell, who finished with a game-high 22 points and made 6 of 12 3-point tries for the game, one short of the Eastern A record of seven set by Dawn Anne Higgins of Lawrence of Fairfield in 1991.
“We weren’t as aggressive as we usually are at the start, but we came out in the second half and played really well, I thought. We attacked more and finally started hitting shots and gaining more confidence.”
Danforth added 18 points for Hampden, including 14 in the second half.
Arnold, a junior guard, scored a team-high 17 points for Edward Little, which shot 8 for 16 from beyond the arc. Arnold had four 3-pointers, including three during an 11-point first quarter as the Red Eddies jumped out to a 19-2 lead.
“We didn’t come out with intensity the way we needed to,” said Bradbury. “They had all the energy and we were kind of back on our heels for the first quarter before we decided we needed to dig in and play.”
EL maintained its 17-point advantage through halftime before Maxwell embarked on her long-range shooting spree, with her third 3-pointer of the third quarter pulling the Broncos within 33-31.
“That Maxwell kid is an absolute warrior,” said EL coach Craig Jipson. “What a great player, what a great performance. There were times we were right in her kitchen, but she’s an unbelievable shooter.”
A steal and subsequent 3-pointer by Maxwell kept Hampden within 39-37 with 1:44 left in the period, but Edward Little scored the final six points of the quarter — including four by Arnold on a 3-pointer and a free throw — to push its lead back to 45-37.
Harriman then made two 3-pointers and went 4-for-4 from the line in the fourth quarter to help the Red Eddies preserve their lead.
“When you win 15 or 16 games, we’ve just kind of found ways to win,” said Jipson. “At the end of the year we played a Brunswick team in a game we had no business of winning (and we won that), and I think when you start winning games, you get used to pulling them out at the end.”