HAMPDEN, Maine — It may have looked like just another 30-point victory on the scoreboard for the undefeated Hampden Academy boys basketball team Tuesday night as it was the Broncos’ fourth in as many games so far this season.
But their 73-40 win over Skowhegan wasn’t quite that easy.
Hampden led just 26-22 with 1:19 left before intermission, but used its defense to set up two late baskets before halftime and then buried three straight 3-pointers over the first 90 seconds of the third quarter to take control.
Hampden outscored Skowhegan 43-18 over the final two periods.
“The three 3s to open the second half were big for us,” said Hampden coach Russ Bartlett. “They allowed us to get some separation at that point and that put a lot of pressure on them to try to come back.”
Johnny Wolfington led a balanced Hampden offense with an efficient 19-point outing. The senior guard took only eight shots from the field, with a 3-of-4 effort from beyond the arc and a 6-of-6 night from the free-throw line fueling his performance.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said Wolfington. “We struggled in the first half to move it on offense and get it into the post, but in the second half we just made plays and executed on offense and defense.”
Senior forward Tommy Raye added 15 points for Hampden while BDN All-Maine senior center Ian McIntyre shook off first-half foul trouble to finish with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Kory Winch added 10 points and six assists for the Broncos while sophomore guard Bryce Lausier scored eight points.
Junior forward Marcus Christopher paced 2-2 Skowhegan with a game-high 22 points and seven rebounds.
Hampden led 22-7 early in the second quarter before Christopher and senior forward Cam Barnes sparked a 15-4. Skowhegan drew within 26-22 on a three-point play by Christopher with 1:19: left in the half.
Skowhegan regained possession and, after a timeout, came out looking to work the ball around patiently, perhaps for the last shot of the half.
But Hampden’s defense forced a turnover and Wolfington scored on a drive. After the Broncos forced a second Skowhegan turnover of the final minute, they generated some accidental offense as Mikey Raye alertly picked up a loose ball along the baseline that had bounced between the legs of a teammate, dribbled across the lane and then spun up an off-balance, left-handed shot off the backboard and through the net at the buzzer to give the Broncos a 30-22 halftime cushion.
“We were a little tired and I wanted us to finish strong that last minute and 19,” said Skowhegan coach Tom Nadeau. “They pressured the ball and got two quick steals for layups. We just didn’t protect the ball.”
Hampden had the ball to open the second half, and Wolfington immediately struck from 3-point land to stretch the Broncos’ lead to 33-22.
Christopher answered with two free throws, but Lausier and Wolfington hit 3-pointers on Hampden’s next two possessions, and suddenly the lead was 39-24 and Skowhegan needed another timeout with still 6:28 left in the third period.
Skowhegan hung within 41-28 on a follow-up shot by sophomore forward Kyle Kruse, but Winch fed Lausier and Tommy Raye for 3-pointers and Wolfington added two free throws after a steal for an eight-point run that gave Hampden complete control 49-28 with 3:43 left in the period.
“We were dodging some foul trouble and I think they wanted to play for one (at the end of the first half), which I thought was a good move,” said Bartlett. “But they had a turnover and Johnny scored and then Mikey made a great hustle play not giving up on the ball and finding a way to throw it in left-handed, and I think that set the tone.”