The Hampden Academy boys basketball team has won 10 of its 11 tournament games en route to three consecutive Eastern Maine Class A championships and the 2013 state title. The Broncos have a chance at a second straight gold ball when they face Portland on Saturday at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland.
Among the primary reasons for that sustained success has been the big-game performances of senior forward Zach Gilpin, who scored a career-high 38 points to lead coach Russ Bartlett’s team to an 82-54 victory over Oxford Hills of South Paris in last Friday’s EM final .
That led to the 6-foot-5 Gilpin becoming just the second boys player to be named a three-time winner of the the William C. Warner Award Most Valuable Player Award for his play throughout the regional tournament.
He joins former Camden Hills of Rockport star Tyler McFarland, who led the Windjammers to consecutive Eastern B championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Warner Award, established in 1994 in memory of a former Bangor Daily News sports editor and reporter, and BDN Eastern Maine all-tournament teams were selected by a vote of media, tournament personnel and Maine Principals’ Association representatives.
Gilpin was one of three unanimous Warner Award recipients this year as along with Class C most valuable player Kyle Bouchard of Houlton and Class D winner Chris Hudson of Hodgdon.
Garvey Melmed, who led Old Town to its first regional title since 1991, is the Class B MVP.
Gilpin was one of three Hampden players to earn all-tourney honors after the Broncos won their contests by an average of 28 points. He’s joined by younger brother Nick Gilpin, a sophomore point guard, and senior forward Isaiah Bess, along with Oxford Hills sophomore forward Andrew Fleming and Brunswick senior guard Blake Gordon.
Zach Gilpin scored 19 points in the quarterfinals and 21 points in the semifinals. He then unloaded on Oxford Hills for 25 first-half points as Hampden surged to a 48-24 lead by intermission, and finished the title game making 12 of 20 shots from the field and 10 of 11 free-throw attempts while also grabbing six rebounds.
Nick Gilpin returns to the all-tourney team for the second straight year after helping Hampden extend its overall win streak to 43 games. The 6-3 Gilpin had 13 points and seven assists in the quarterfinals, 16 points in the semifinals and nine points and seven assists in the title game.
Bess, the Eastern C tournament MVP last year while leading Penquis Valley of Milo to a state championship, played key offensive and defensive roles for Hampden. He averaged 14 points with a mix of 3-point shooting and slashing drives to the basket.
The 6-4 Fleming was pivotal in leading the sixth-ranked Vikings past No. 3 Bangor in the quarterfinals and No. 2 Brunswick in the semifinals. He had 24 points and 13 rebounds against Bangor and 21 points and 13 rebounds in the overtime win over Brunswick.
Gordon averaged 23 points per tournament game, with 22 points in Brunswick’s quarterfinal win over Mount Ararat of Topsham and 24 points in the semifinals against Oxford Hills.
Melmed’s heroics often were subtle, such as the defensive work he did in the quarterfinals against Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor standout Jon Phelps and in the final against Caribou star Dayne Savage.
But the senior guard also came up big offensively. His two free throws with three seconds left helped secure the Coyotes’ semifinal victory over Ellsworth, and he scored Old Town’s final eight points in its win over Caribou in the title game — including a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime and two subsequent free throws that provided the margin of the 43-41 victory.
Melmed is joined on the Eastern B all-tourney squad by Savage, Tyler Thayer of Hermon, Adam Richardson of Old Town and Nick Bagley of Ellsworth.
Savage, a junior guard, averaged 27 points in Caribou’s two tournament victories, with 22 in the quarterfinals against Winslow — including the deciding free throws with 4.9 seconds left of the Vikings’ 63-61 win — and a 32-point uprising in the Vikings’ semifinal victory over Hermon when he made 10 of 15 shots from the field and 11 of 13 free-throw tries.
Thayer burst onto the tournament scene with 40 points during Hermon’s overtime upset of top-ranked Oceanside of Rockland-Thomaston in the quarterfinals. The 5-10 guard made 11 of 17 field-goal tries and 17 of 25 free throws — including 13 of 19 during the fourth quarter and overtime.
Thayer added 26 points during the Hawks’ semifinal loss to Caribou.
The 6-3 Richardson was a dependable rebounder (7.3 per game) and a stabilizing interior influence for Old Town, particularly after frontcourt mate Zack Bartlett was sidelined by injury after the quarterfinals. The junior center had his most productive statistical game in the final when he delivered 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Bagley epitomized a youthful Ellsworth squad’s never-give-up attitude and challenged opposing defenses with his long-range shooting ability. The sophomore forward had 19 points and five rebounds when the Eagles upended No. 2 Camden Hills of Rockport in the quarterfinals, then helped keep Ellsworth close until the final seconds of its semifinal loss to Old Town with 11 points.
Bouchard, the tournament’s co-MVP as a freshman in 2012, was a clear-cut choice this year.
He is joined on the Eastern C all-tourney team by Trevor Lyford of Penquis Valley of Milo, Cherif Fall of Lee Academy, Kyle Johnson of Calais and Nick Guiod of Houlton.
The 6-4 Bouchard averaged 16.7 points and 12 rebounds in three games to lead Houlton to its first EM crown since 2004. That effort included 22 points and 11 rebounds during a semifinal victory over Penquis and 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists against Lee in the championship game.
Lyford, like Bouchard an all-tourney choice for the third straight year, willed the defending state champions to a double-overtime quarterfinal victory over Washington Academy of East Machias. He scored 35 points, including a 14-of-15 night from the free-throw line, a game-tying 3-pointer at the end of the first overtime and eight more points during the second overtime.
The senior guard then scored 23 points in the Patriots’ semifinal loss to Houlton.
Fall, a 6-6 senior, used his blend of height and quickness to create matchup problems that helped Lee advance to the regional final for the third time in four years. He averaged 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per tournament contest.
Johnson made an immediate impact on the C tournament, scoring 21 points during the first half of Calais’ quarterfinal victory over Orono. The junior guard added eight fourth-quarter points to help the second-ranked Blue Devils hold off the Red Riots, then contributed 13 points in Calais’ overtime loss to Lee in the semifinals.
Guiod is on the all-tourney roster for the second straight year. Houlton’s senior point guard scored a team-high 17 points in the championship game after scoring 14 in the semifinals — and a key in both performances was his combined 18-of-19 free-throw shooting.
Hudson was a dominant presence in leading Hodgdon to its first Eastern Maine title since 1996. The 6-5 junior averaged 24.7 points and 15.7 rebounds in three games at the Cross Insurance Center.
Hudson is joined on the D all-tourney team by Jacob Rioux of Van Buren, Hunter Turner of Easton and Southern Aroostook teammates Cameron Landry and Nolan Altvater.
Rioux, a senior guard, made the most of his first year in the Class D tournament after transferring from Hermon. He scored 33 points as the Crusaders topped Jonesport-Beals in the quarters and added 27 points during a semifinal loss to Southern Aroostook. Rioux had five 3-pointers in each game.
Turner, who sparked Easton to its first undefeated regular season in school history, averaged 11 points and eight rebounds in tourney play. He amassed 15 points and eight rebounds during a quarterfinal victory over Bangor Christian and scored with 8.5 seconds left after grabbing an offensive rebound to help preserve that win.
Landry, a junior guard, and Altvater, a freshman forward, were key components of a youthful Southern Aroostook squad that advanced to the Eastern D final.
Landry averaged 16.3 points during the Warriors’ three games in Bangor, with 18 points in both the semifinals and finals. Altvater averaged 13 points and 6.3 rebounds, including 20 points and seven rebounds in the quarterfinals.