AUGUSTA, Maine — Senior guard Ray Bessette scored 21 points as top-ranked Brewer rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit to surge past No. 4 Hampden Academy 59-50 in an Eastern Maine Class A boys basketball semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday night.

The win advances the 17-3 Witches to Friday night’s championship against No. 2 Edward Little of Auburn, which defeated Bangor 60-57 in overtime earlier in the evening.

Hampden ends its season with a 15-5 record.

Brewer took control of the contest early in the fourth quarter, stretching a 43-42 lead to 53-46 on a follow-up shot by Yuhi Sasaki.

Two straight baskets by Brad Dolan rallied Hampden within 53-50 with 1:35 to play, but Brewer’s Tyler Bessette made six straight free throws to secure the victory.

Dom Drake added 12 points for Brewer while defensively limiting Hampden standout Jacob Moore to six points on 3 of 12 shooting from the field. Tyler Bessette finished with 10 points, while center Nate Carson had eight points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots for the Witches.

Junior guard Graham Safford led Hampden with 16 points before fouling out on a technical foul with 1:45 left in the third quarter. Center Noah Burditt added 14 points and nine rebounds, while Dolan scored nine points and Moore had 10 rebounds.

Hampden controlled much of the first half, but a late seven-point run drew Brewer within 30-26 at intermission.

Hampden center Noah Burditt asserted himself on offense early, scoring Hampden’s first eight points in helping the Broncos grab a 13-4 lead on a 15-foot jumper by Moore with 2:43 left in the first quarter.

A 3-pointer by Christian McCue and a drive to the basket by Safford helped Hampden maintain an 18-9 lead at the end of the opening period.

A subsequent seven-point run featuring a 3-pointer by Brad Dolan, two Burditt free throws and a fast-break layup by Greg O’Donnell off a Nolan Turner steal gave the Broncos their largest lead, 25-11 with 5:45 remaining.

Brewer crept back in part by forcing six Hampden turnovers during the second quarter. Ray Bessette got the offense going for the Witches, scoring nine straight points for his team, including a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 25-19.

Dolan made two free throws and Safford hit a pull-up 3-pointer to stretch Hampden’s lead back to 30- 19 with 1:43 left until intermission.

But Bessette followed in his own miss and made 1 of 2 free throws after a steal before Drake scored on an offensive rebound and then stole the ball and banked-in a jumper to draw the Witches within four points at the break.

Bessette had 13 for Brewer at intermission, while Burditt had 10 points and Safford eight for Hampden.

Brewer kept coming as the third quarter opened, using steals by Bessette and Drake as the fuel for an 8-2 run that pulled the Witches within 37-36 and forced a Hampden timeout with 3:20 left in the period.

Moore fed Safford for a 3-pointer and Burditt for an inside hoop, but Safford then fouled out with 1:45 left in the third period as he picked up his fourth foul and then his fifth for bouncing the ball away in frustration.

Brewer outscored Hampden 23-8 the rest of the way.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...