Ian McIntyre recalled a tinge of nervousness when he became a rare freshman to earn a starting berth on the Hampden Academy boys basketball team three years ago.

McIntyre had joined four returning junior starters — older brother Brendan McIntyre, Nick Gilpin, Conor Moore and Jake Black — who were fresh from winning the Broncos’ third consecutive Class A regional title and were poised to contend for a second state championship in three years as the 2014-2015 season began.

“About the only missing piece was a center,” said Hampden head coach Russ Bartlett. “Ian had good size already and showed early on that he could make layups and rebound. His job was very easy that year and he did a nice job with it. It wasn’t overwhelming for him at all.”

McIntyre capped off that introduction to varsity basketball by scoring 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting as Hampden capped off an undefeated 2015 season by topping Portland 70-50 in the Class A state final.

“In the Eastern A game against Lewiston I didn’t play too well,” said McIntyre. “But the team did a good job of making sure I bounced back and against Portland and I just did what I had to do.

“Most of the shots were pretty wide open because of the offense we ran but I felt good to be able to contribute to my team in that big of a game.”

The 6-foot-5 McIntyre’s contributions have increased each year since then as Hampden has remained near the top of the Class A ranks. And his success in rising to both the responsibilities and expectations placed on him is reflected statistically and beyond.

The senior center enters next Tuesday’s home game against Medomak Valley of Waldoboro needing only 13 points to join a small group of 1,000-point scorers in Hampden boys basketball history. He has already surpassed 500 career rebounds.

“When coach told me at the end of last year just how close I was I was surprised, I didn’t think I was that close,” said McIntyre.

He, along with Jordan Cook, Daniel McCue and Nick Gilpin are Hampden’s only four-year starters during Bartlett’s 15 years as head coach. Cook started as a freshman under Bartlett’s predecessor, Andy Frace.

“I’m really looking forward to it and excited to be able to celebrate it with the community and my friends and family,” said McIntyre.

Even more important to McIntyre, the Broncos are 66-9 during his four years with one state championship and aspirations of another deep tournament run this winter.

McIntyre, a third-team BDN All-Maine choice and first-team All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A honoree last season, is averaging 19.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots and shooting 68 percent from the field through top-ranked Hampden’s 13-1 start this season.

His increased statistical production from year to year is due at least in part a tribute to multitasking. McIntyre also evolved from young gun to elder statesman almost immediately at the outset of his junior year after the four standouts he joined as a freshman graduated in 2016.

McIntyre inherited the leadership role on a talented but inexperienced team that faced the continuing high expectations for a program that had captured three state crowns and six regional titles over the previous 12 seasons.

“It wasn’t anything new,” said McIntyre, who previously had similar leadership responsibilities during his middle-school years. “It was just something I hadn’t done in a few years so I had to adjust to that.”

Hampden won its first 10 games last winter before a wrist injury to sharp-shooting guard Bryce Lausier and the ups and downs of youth produced a 4-4 finish that still resulted in the No. 2 seed in Class A North.

But tournament time wasn’t what the Broncos envisioned, as an up-tempo No. 7 seed from Cony High School in Augusta — which had split two regular-season games with Hampden — scored a quarterfinal upset.

“Going 14-4 last year and getting knocked out in the first round of the tournament was like a big punch in the face, a big dose of reality that it doesn’t matter of you’re the two seed or the one seed you can still lose in the playoffs and no one’s invincible,” McIntyre said.

“I think that’s helped us this year. I think we meshed together somewhat last year but this is the year we’ve really come together.”

With nearly the entire roster back, the Broncos are bigger, stronger, deeper and more experienced — and their leader is just as mild-mannered as ever.

“Ian’s very even-keeled out there,” said Bartlett. “I’ve never said anything when he hasn’t answered back, ‘Yes, coach.’ I always joke with the staff that I think I could tell him, ‘You stink tonight,’ and I think he’d say, ‘Yes coach,’ because that’s what he answers no matter what. He’s just very stoic and very focused. He’s not very vocal but he leads by example.”

McIntyre’s role is likely to revert to his earliest days of high school next fall when he continues his playing career at Husson University in Bangor.

“I’ll be a young player again,” he said. “I won’t be taking a lot of shots so if I do get into the games my job will be to play defense and grab rebounds and make my layups when I get them.

“I’m OK with that.”

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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...