HAMPDEN, Maine — The Hampden Academy boys basketball team needed a lift after seeing a 15-point halftime lead over Skowhegan shrink to just two points early in the fourth quarter of their Class A season opener at The Stable on Friday night.
They turned to their Bangor Daily News All-Maine guard, and Bryce Lausier delivered.
The 6-foot-4 senior scored 14 of his game-high 25 points during the fourth quarter as Hampden re-asserted itself to pull away to a 67-52 victory.
Lausier, held scoreless after an 11-point first quarter, scored eight points as part of a 14-6 run that restored the Broncos to a 58-48 cushion midway through the period. He finished the final eight minutes making all five of his field-goal attempts and going 4-for-5 from the free-throw line.
“Coach said if we move the ball and get me a second touch then we’re going to have more scoring opportunities,” Lausier said. “Guys really started looking for me and I went on that little run there and we were able to break it open.”
Skowhegan, which trailed 32-17 at intermission, used a big third quarter that included four 3-point goals and strong inside play by senior Matush Prokop and freshman Adam Savage to pull within 44-40 entering the final period.
Savage then scored after grabbing a loose ball to make it a two-point game before Lausier and Co. regained control.
Lausier scored from the left of the lane before classmate Mikey Raye buried the first of three 3-pointers by Hampden down the stretch to give the Broncos a 49-42 edge with six minutes left.
Skowhegan’s Jimmy Reed answered from 3-point range, but Lausier connected on a runner from the lane and then drove the length of the court after grabbing a defensive rebound to give Hampden a 53-45 cushion.
Junior forward Brayden Cole soon sandwiched two 3-pointers around a baseline drive by Lausier, and the Broncos’ advantage was back to double digits at 61-50 with 2:35 left.
“They hit some big shots and we’ve got to live with those a little bit if we’re going to throw so much attention at Lausier,” Skowhegan coach Tom Nadeau said.
Cole finished with 13 points and six rebounds and Mikey Raye added 10 points and six assists for Hampden. T.J. Henaghan, a 6-7 sophomore who like Cole was making his first varsity start, added seven points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots while junior guard Andy Raye contributed six points and four assists.
“It was about as expected,” Hampden coach Russ Bartlett said. “I was extremely happy with the first half. I would hope that two weeks from now we would be able to play the second half as good as the first half. We had a bad [third] quarter, but we found a way to win the game.”
Savage came off Skowhegan’s bench to give his team a big spark and the additional size it needed to match up with Hampden’s length. The freshman finished with 11 points, all after intermission, along with six rebounds.
“He’s a talented kid,” Nadeau said. “He’s been starting for us but we need more out of him so he’s played pretty well off the bench and he showed that again tonight.”
Senior guard Chase Carey also scored 11 points for Skowhegan while Prokop finished with 10 and senior guard Levi Obert scored 10.
Lausier was just as hot at the outset of the game as he was at the end, scoring Hampden’s first eight points as the Broncos built a 10-0 lead and looked all the part of a team trying to avenge a 68-63 upset loss to Skowhegan in last February’s Class A North quarterfinals.
But Nadeau inserted Savage into the game to work up front with Prokop, and after Lausier ended the first quarter with a long 3-pointer to give the Broncos a 20-8 lead, the game began to take on a more balanced tone.
Skowhegan couldn’t make inroads during the second quarter despite Lausier sitting out the last 2 1/2 minutes of the first half after drawing his second foul, but Carey opened the third quarter by scoring from deep 3-point land on an attempted lob to Savage, and that ignited a 9-0 run that included a deep 3-pointer by Obert to draw within 32-26.
Skowhegan kept coming, with late 3-pointers in the period by Savage and Carter Hunt pulling their team within four points entering the game’s final eight minutes.