HAMPDEN, Maine — After winning their previous two games by an average of 48 points, the Hampden Academy boys basketball team was anticipating being tested by a highly regarded Lawrence of Fairfield squad.
Instead it was more of the same.
Junior forward Zach Gilpin scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds Tuesday night as the Broncos overwhelmed Lawrence 62-37 in an early season showdown of Eastern Maine Class A boys basketball powers — and it wasn’t that close.
Tyler Norris added 15 points, five rebounds and five assists as Hampden built a lead of as many as 35 points while improving its record to 4-0.
Lawrence is now 3-1.
“I was telling the boys in the locker room that this was either a test to show that Hampden’s a team to be reckoned with or a team that’s just all talk and no action,” said Norris, a senior forward. “But this proved we’re a team to be reckoned with.”
Norris and classmate Brian Fickett combined to give Hampden an inside presence that Lawrence couldn’t match, particularly with its own big man, 6-foot-4-inch Nick Noiles, sidelined with strep throat.
Norris scored six points in the first quarter to help stake the Broncos to a 13-6 lead, and Fickett scored six in the second period as Hampden’s lead continued to grow.
The duo ended the contest with a combined 23 points and 10 rebounds.
“I thought they both played great tonight,” said Hampden coach Russ Bartlett. “They played like seniors in a game that really mattered to them. They’re both hard to handle on the block and they’re different types of guys that you have to guard. Brian’s more physical and Tyler’s more finesse, and it’s a good balance for us.”
A steal and layup by Matt Saunders kept Lawrence within striking distance at 17-8 with five minutes left in the opening half.
But Hampden maintained a defensive effort that clamped down on Lawrence leading scorers Spencer Carey and Xavier Lewis, and once the Broncos tightened up their offense the game quickly became one-sided.
Hampden outscored Lawrence 11-2 over the final 4:39 of the second quarter to take a 28-10 intermission lead when freshman guard Nick Gilpin beat the buzzer with a follow-up shot — the final rebound of a half during which Hampden earned a 21-11 advantage on the backboards.
“We did a pretty good job of protecting the paint today, and pretty much all of their shots were contested,” said Bartlett. “That’s something we have to do to be successful, and then we have to track down the rebound so I was very happy with the rebound margin being 10 at the break.”
Hampden then scored 13 unanswered points early in the third period to extend its advantage to 41-12 when Gilpin drove into the lane for a three-point play and then hit a 3-point jumper from the left corner.
Norris soon followed with one basket from the lane and another after grabbing an offensive rebound to help cap off the 20-1 run that gave the Broncos a 48-13 lead at the end of the third period.
“It seemed like every time we fed the ball to T-Nor or Fickett in the post, they were either getting a bucket or they were kicking it out to the wing to somebody with an open shot,” said Zach Gilpin.
Fickett finished with eight points and five rebounds while Nick Gilpin added seven points.
Chris Doyen and Cole Robinson, both reserves, led Lawrence with seven points each while Lewis was limited to three points and Carey was held scoreless.
“We did a good job of loading up on Spencer and Xavier,” said Bartlett, “and our helpers did a really good job of helping to them and they just didn’t make enough shots.
“Overall I was happy with our execution at both ends tonight because we did have to score against a team that can guard people.”