FAIRFIELD, Maine — Folsom Gymnasium has the reputation as one of the tougher places around for opposing basketball players.
But trying telling that to Nick Gilpin.
The freshman guard made his varsity debut at Lawrence High School’s home court Tuesday night with a team-leading 16-point performance that helped Hampden Academy remain undefeated with a 51-35 victory over the Bulldogs in their Eastern Maine Class A matchup.
“It was pretty clear that it was going to be loud and I wouldn’t be able to hear a thing,” said Gilpin. “I kind of noticed it during the JV game that it was getting pretty loud, but I just had to make sure to zone in on the game and not let the pressure get to me.”
Hampden, which entered the game tied atop the regional Heal point rankings with Edward Little of Auburn, is now 15-0.
Third-seeded Lawrence, which played without one of its top scorers in junior guard Xavier Lewis (mononucleosis), fell to 11-4 after suffering its second straight loss.
Gilpin was part of a Hampden defense that limited Lawrence to 30 percent (12 of 40) shooting from the field, and much of his offense came in transition after the Broncos grabbed a rebound or forced a turnover — the Bulldogs had 14.
“I was trying to make sure I could deflect as many balls as possible,” said Gilpin, who also converted 7 of 10 free-throw attempts. “I didn’t necessarily have to get the steal, but if I could deflect it one of my teammates could get to the ball.
“And we’re a pretty athletic team so I feel like we can get out in transition pretty well.”
Gilpin’s older brother, junior forward Nick Gilpin, added 14 points and five rebounds for Hampden, while senior forward Matt Palmer made 3 of 4 3-point tries en route to a 13-point evening as the Broncos defeated Lawrence for the second time this season.
Hampden shot 7 of 12 overall from beyond the arc, thanks in part to its ability to make the extra pass to locate the open shot.
“We did a great job making the extra pass,” said Hampden coach Russ Bartlett, whose club had 11 assists on its 15 field goals during the game. “They did a good job of keeping us out of the paint tonight so we ended up making quite a few threes, more than we normally do because they didn’t allow us to get into the paint.
“Consequently the 3-point shot was open and we made the extra pass. When we shoot the three it’s usually uncontested, so I like our chances if the right guys are shooting in that situation.”
Palmer also was the primary defender against Lawrence senior forward Spencer Carey. Carey, who along with Lewis has accounted for much of the Bulldogs’ offense this winter, scored a team-high 10 points before fouling out but was limited to a 4-of-14 shooting night.
“Knowing that Xavier was out we focused on Carey,” said Palmer. “He got his points but everyone else we were kind of able to shut down. We also tried to limit them to one shot and we did that pretty well.”
Hampden trailed just once at 5-4 after a 3-pointer by Lawrence’s Nick Noiles midway through the first quarter.
But Zach Gilpin soon answered first with his own 3-pointer and then two free throws, igniting a 10-0 run that gave Hampden a 14-5 lead before Carey closed out the first period with a jumper from the lane.
The Broncos limited Lawrence to one field goal and a 1-of-5 effort from the free-throw line during the second quarter, and Nick Gilpin and Palmer each hit a 3-pointer as Hampden extended its advantage to 22-10 by halftime.
Lawrence rarely had an uncontested shot during the first two periods, making just 4 of 20 field-goal tries during that span.
The Bulldogs couldn’t string enough offense together to make a major run after intermission either, and if Hampden’s defense wasn’t tough enough Lawrence lost a point it had scored amid a scoring snafu after Mason Travers was fouled and sent to the line with 5:18 left in the third quarter.
Travers made both free throws to apparently cut the deficit to 26-14, but he was credited with just one of the two makes amid some confusion at the scorer’s table about who committed the foul.
The lost point ultimately didn’t matter. Hampden maintained a 32-19 lead through three quarters, then put the game away with nine unanswered points midway through the final period.
That run began with a 3-pointer from the right corner from Palmer off a baseline drive and feed from Zach Gilpin and also featured a three-point play on a steal and drive by Nick Gilpin before being capped off when Palmer went unabated to the offensive glass after a missed Zach Gilpin free throw and converted the follow-up shot to give Hampden a 43-24 cushion with 3:59 remaining.