AUGUSTA, Maine — It’s back to the Eastern Maine finals for the defending state champions.
Zach Gilpin scored 21 points and younger brother Nick Gilpin added 16 as the top-ranked Hampden Academy Broncos topped No. 5 Edward Little of Auburn 67-49 in their regional basketball semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday night.
Isaiah Bess added 14 points and Cam Scott eight for coach Russ Bartlett’s club, which will take a 20-0 record into Friday’s 8:30 p.m. regional final against Oxford Hills of South Paris. No. 6 Oxford Hills outlasted No. 2 Brunswick 61-58 in overtime in Wednesday’s earlier semifinal.
Hampden did face a midgame threat en route to its 42nd consecutive victory as Edward Little scored the first 11 points of the second half to cut an 18-point deficit to seven at 40-33.
But the Red Eddies couldn’t generate enough consecutive offensive possessions to narrow the deficit further, and Hampden point guard Nick Gilpin hit two free throws and took a steal in for a layup to spark an 11-2 run that restored the Broncos to a 51-35 lead by the end of the period.
Lew Jensen scored 17 points for Edward Little, which ended its season with a 12-8 record.
Edward Little was making its seventh straight appearance in the regional semifinals and Hampden its fifth straight in eight years, but this marked just their third tournament meeting during that span.
Hampden jumped out to a 12-2 lead behind early 3-pointers by Bess and Zach Gilpin, and Edward Little was unable to keep pace as the Broncos’ advantage grew to 40-22 by intermission.
Bess was hot early, hitting three 3-pointers during the first quarter and adding three free throws after he was fouled while attempting another shot from beyond the arc for a 12-point first quarter.
Nick Gilpin, meanwhile, was able to drive into the middle of the Edward Little defense for a pair of three-point plays during the second quarter and also scored five late points after a 3-point shot by backcourt mate Cam Scott as the bulk of an 8-0 run that gave Hampden its largest lead of the half.
Bess and Nick Gilpin each had 12 points at the break while Zach Gilpin added 11.
The Hampden defense, meanwhile, limited EL to a 7-of-23 shooting effort (30 percent) from the field for the opening two periods.