June 24, 2018
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Hampden, Bangor advance to semifinal collision

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — They’ve already met twice, with Hampden Academy winning at home in overtime and on the road by three points.

Now the Broncos and defending state champion Bangor will meet for a third time this winter after each won its Eastern Maine Class A basketball quarterfinal at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday night.

Top-ranked Hampden limited No. 9 Erskine Academy of South China to 22-percent shooting (12 of 54) from the field to fend off the Eagles 53-38, while No. 5 Bangor used a game-ending 17-1 run to pull away from No. 4 Lawrence of Fairfield 48-31.

Hampden and Bangor will meet at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, just after No. 3 Mt. Blue of Farmington faces No. 7 Edward Little of Auburn in the first regional semifinal.

Senior guard Christian McCue scored 18 points, nine in the fourth quarter, as 18-1 Hampden closed out an Erskine team that reached the tourney just one year removed from a 2-16 season.

McCue had several perimeter shots bounce around the rim and out during the first three quarters, so late in the game he opted to drive more to the basket and found offensive success.

“On the ones close where I could go either way I’d probably go to the basket and try to get something going,” McCue said, “just to contribute any way I can.”

Erskine (8-12) hung with Hampden for much of the game thanks to 5-foot-7-inch junior guard Devin Duncan, who scored a game-high 20 points, including four 3-pointers.

But Hampden’s defense kept the other Eagles in check and limited Erskine to two points over the game’s final 4:26.

“I think our constant has been our defense,” Hampden coach Russ Bartlett said. “We’ve been able to keep teams to around 45 points a game, so on offense we can have an off night and still win, which is what happened tonight.”

Fred Knight and Zach Gilpin each added 10 points, with Knight scoring eight in the first half to

help stake Hampden to a 28-18 lead at the break.

“Early on we had a good rhythm,” Knight said. “In the third quarter we struggled to move the ball well and that helped them come back, but I thought in the first quarter we moved it really well and that’s what got us going.”

In the earlier game, Bangor avenged two earlier losses to Lawrence — including a 37-22 humbling on the Rams’ Senior Night.

“That always hurts losing on Senior Night, especially like that scoring just 22 points,” said Bangor senior point guard John Szewczyk. “But it’s really hard to beat a team three times, and we came out ready today.”

Senior forward Patrick Stewart had 17 points and nine rebounds as 14-5 Bangor reached the semifinals for the sixth straight year.

The Rams surpassed their Senior Night scoring output by halftime of this contest, armed with a 24-18 lead at the break behind nine first-half points by Stewart and second-quarter 3-pointers by Szewczyk and sophomore guard Xavier Lewis.

The Rams extended that margin to nine points twice during the third quarter, the second

time at 32-23 on a 3-pointer by Alex Campbell with 1:39 left in the period.

But Lawrence scored the next seven points to draw within 32-30 on a short jumper by Spencer Carey in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.

“We just had to settle down. They always make a run, they made a run the first time we played them — we were up by eight and they made a run and won — and they made a run against Mt. Blue down 20 and almost won,” Stewart said. “We just had to weather the storm, make our free throws and make our shots and we’d be all set.”

The Bulldogs had several chances to either tie or take the lead, but four missed free throws and an exchange of turnovers left Bangor clinging to its lead until Stewart hit two free throws and then converted a three-point play off a press-breaking pass from Szewczyk to give the Rams a 37-30 cushion with 4:18 left.

“I saw Patrick streaking down the middle of the court so I lobbed it up for him,” said Szewczyk, who finished the night with seven assists and just one turnover. “I knew he’d catch it and finish the play.”

Lawrence (12-7) managed just one free throw the rest of the way.

Lewis added 11 points for Bangor, eight during the fourth quarter, while Carey led Lawrence with 12 points.

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