AUGUSTA, Maine — Hampden Academy spotted undefeated Skowhegan the game’s first 10 points but held the Indians to just 18 points in final 27 minutes and Bailey Donovan’s traditional 3-point play with 30 seconds remaining followed by Amelia McLaughlin’s steal and layup 13 seconds later gave the Broncos a 32-28 victory in the Class A North final on Friday night.
Second seed Hampden Academy captured its second straight A North girls basketball title and is now 17-4. The Broncos will play in next Friday’s 6:05 p.m. state final at the Augusta Civic Center.
Skowhegan wound up 20-1.
The Broncos took a 25-23 lead into the fourth quarter but Annie Cook’s layup and Sydney Reed’s 3-pointer put Skowhegan up 28-25.
But the Indians never scored again over the game’s final 4:50.
McLaughlin’s layup cut it to 28-27 and she fed Donovan for a basket on which Skowhegan leading scorer Cooke picked up her fifth foul.
“Getting the ball into the post was kind of our plan the whole game but it wasn’t really working out. They were shutting me down. But in that situation, we knew we needed to get it inside and I needed to finish,” said the 6-foot-3 Donovan, who was also aware that Cooke had four fouls.
Seconds later, McLaughlin stole the ball at midcourt and converted a layup to clinch it.
“I think Alydia (Brillant) was on the ball defending her. She was paying more attention to (Brillant). She wasn’t paying attention to me so I had an open lane to get it,” said McLaughlin.
Donovan finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots. McLaughlin, Alydia Brillant and Bella Soucy had six points apiece. Brillant also had three steals and McLaughlin had three assists. Sydney Hodgdon had two assists, two rebounds and three points.
Donovan said their defense and patience on offense were keys to the win.
“We weren’t rushing our shots,” said Donovan,
The defense was a 2-3 zone that Hampden Academy coach Nick Winchester unveiled for the first time this season after practicing it for a month.
They also played off Cooke, who torched them for 33 including 17 free throws in 19 attempts in the Skowhegan win at HA. Donovan stayed 10 feet from the basket and let Cooke get the ball higher.
“We had to give something up so we gave (Cooke) the (open) 15-footer. When she tried to penetrate, our guards did a great job pinching in,” said Winchester who felt their defensive strategy surprised the Indians.
“We were trying to keep it (the 2-3 zone) a secret so they wouldn’t be prepared for it. It worked,” beamed McLaughlin.
“Our goal was to get in passing lanes and get in their heads a little bit,” said Donovan.
“We didn’t attack (the zone) like very well,” said Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc. “Hats off to them. They played a good game. Bailey in the middle was taking away our skip pass. We also got in foul trouble early.”
Cooke’s 11 points, Sydney Ames’ seven and Sydney Reed’s six points paced Skowhegan.
Ames had two rebounds, two assists and two steals and Reed also had five rebounds, two steals and two assists. Freshman Jaycie Christopher had four rebounds and three points.
It looked as though the Indians were going to make short work of the Broncos, whom they defeated twice during the regular season by 50-35 and 51-27 scores.
The Indians scored the game’s first 10 points and the Broncos turned the ball over six times in the first two minutes and missed their first six shots.
Donovan’s two free throws put the Broncos on the board for the first time with 2:45 left in the first quarter before Soucy came off the bench and hit a 3-pointer from the right corner off a Sydney Hodgdon pass and Donovan converted a Megan Deans pass under the basket.
“We never gave up. We were really motivated to get the win tonight,” said McLaughlin.
Soucy hit another three to open the second period to tie it before Christopher answered with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.