AUGUSTA — The Hampden Academy boys basketball team survived its 2011 tourney debut without its big man in the middle Saturday night.
Fred Knight, the Broncos’ 6-foot-7 junior center, went through pregame warmups before his team’s 70-51 Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinal victory over Lewiston at the Augusta Civic Center, but saw no game action.
Knight suffered a hip injury during Hampden’s 68-48 victory over Lawrence of Fairfield on Feb. 1 and hasn’t played since then, missing the Broncos’ final two regular-season games as well as their 59-56 win over Bangor in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship game on Valentine’s Day.
Knight’s absence was noticeable against Lewiston as the Blue Devils generated much of their offense after grabbing offensive rebounds.
“It’s the same issue we had in the KVAC championship game,” said Hampden coach Russ Bartlett. “We kind of controlled the game but we didn’t check out and they were able to come back in the third quarter because we gave them too many offensive rebounds.
“It’s an adjustment for us because one, we’re a little young inside, and second, when Fred’s around he takes up so much space you can’t block him out. So we need to be tougher inside, and we’re still searching that out a bit.”
Knight’s status for Wednesday night’s semifinal against two-time defending Eastern A champion Edward Little of Auburn is uncertain.
“We’re playing a great opponent in Edward Little that is well coached,” said Bartlett, whose team edged EL 73-65 in their only regular-season meeting on Jan. 4 at Hampden, “and we’re going to have to do everything we can to find a way to get by them again.”
Ankle injury sidelines Blodgett
The top-seeded Bangor boys basketball team was cruising toward its 67-38 Eastern A quarterfinal win over Brunswick on Saturday night when about the only negative possibility remaining for the Rams and their supporters took place — an injury.
Senior forward Zach Blodgett came flashing across the lane during the opening minute of the third quarter to swat away a shot by Brunswick’s Brad Smith.
But in the aftermath of his block, Blodgett’s left foot landed on another player’s foot in the crowded lane, and Blodgett went down immediately and grabbed his ankle.
He soon was escorted to the locker room by Bangor trainer John Ryan for treatment, and returned to the Rams’ bench a few moments later.
Blodgett tried to convince Bangor coach Roger Reed to let him return to the game, but with the contest no longer in doubt Reed opted to keep his first-team All-KVAC Class A North honoree on the sidelines.
Blodgett said after the game that his ankle was sore, but he wasn’t limping noticeably — a good sign for the Rams as they prepare for their regional semifinal against Mt. Blue of Farmington on Wednesday night.
Until his injury, Blodgett was a key part of a dominating frontcourt performance by Bangor, as he made 6 of 7 shots from the field while amassing 14 points and five rebounds as the Rams built a 17-point halftime lead.
Blodgett, senior center Josiah Hartley and junior forward Patrick Stewart combined for 36 points and 18 rebounds on the night, with Hartley and Stewart also sitting out much of the fourth quarter.
“We moved the ball really well,” said Blodgett. “Usually we don’t move it that well, but me and Josiah just got to open gaps and the passes were there and we scored.”