June 23, 2018
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Nick Gilpin, Bess power Hampden boys past Bangor for 30th straight win

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

HAMPDEN, Maine — Individual offense is not anywhere near the top of Nick Gilpin’s priority list when he steps onto the basketball court.

And that’s a scary notion for opposing teams, given his ability to cash in when presented the opportunity.

The sophomore guard struck for 10 points during the first five minutes Tuesday night, helping stake Hampden Academy to an immediate double-digit lead and propelling the undefeated Broncos to their 30th consecutive win with a 74-48 victory over Bangor.

“It just all depends on what the look is,” said Gilpin, who finished with 12 points as one of four Hampden players to score in double figures. “If I’m open coach (Russ Bartlett) will always want me to take the shot, but if there’s a man coming at me I know someone’s open so I try to swing it and find the open man because we always want a great shot.”

The win also was the 32nd straight at home for the defending Class A state champions, who are 8-0 this season and comfortably atop the Eastern A Heal point ratings.

“Nick definitely came out and got us started,” said older brother Zach Gilpin, who led Hampden with 20 points and 12 rebounds. “Nick does a great job of knowing when to shoot and when to pass, and tonight he came out assertive.”

Senior wing Isaiah Bess added 16 points for Hampden while classmate Cam Scott contributed 10 points and a team-leading five assists.

Garrett Johnson led 5-4 Bangor with 12 points on four 3-pointers — all within a three-minute span midway through the third quarter — while Alex Campbell and Xavier Lewis scored 11 points each.

Hampden scored the game’s first 12 points, beginning with a thunderous dunk by Bess and a three-point play by sophomore forward Brendan McIntyre, then stretched the lead to 19-3 with Nick Gilpin sandwiching two 3-pointers around a baseline drive and a foray through the lane.

And Bangor, which made just three of its 12 field-goal attempts in the opening quarter, was left to play catch-up the rest of the way against a team with a winning margin of 28 points per game so far this winter.

“I felt like they were trying to take Zach’s points away more early so my man wasn’t always as as close to me because they were looking to help on him,” said Nick Gilpin. “So my teammates did a good job of finding me and I stuck the open shots I had at the beginning.”

Hampden led 24-8 at the quarter break and pushed the margin to 43-22 by intermission as Zach Gilpin showed off his versatility with a 15-point, nine-rebound half while Bess added two 3-pointers and senior guard Scott struck for seven second-quarter points.

“I thought we came out with a lot of intensity,” said Bess. “Coach Bartlett said before the game that this could be the last chance the seniors might have to play against Bangor at home so we wanted to make a statement.”

But Bangor was not without a comeback, one launched from long range. The Rams went 5-for-8 on 3-pointers during the third quarter, with Johnson making two from the right corner and then two more from the left corner to help his team draw as close as 53-40 on a follow-up basket by Ben Hughes with just over two minutes left in the period.

But a defensive switch by Hampden put the 6-foot-4-inch Bess on Johnson to quell that 3-point threat, and Bess also nailed a 3-pointer of his own from the right of the key to go with two free throws and a driving basket by reserve forward Matt Martin as Hampden pushed its lead back to 62-42 by the end of the quarter.

Bess then opened the fourth period with a left-handed drive and a pull-up 3-pointer, and the Broncos’ cushion was back to 25.

“Isaiah played great in the first half, too,” said Zach Gilpin, “but scoringwise he played great in the second half. He carried us offensively.”

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