The Hampden Academy boys basketball team reached an undefeated midseason milestone Tuesday night by passing one of its biggest tests to date.
Coach Russ Bartlett’s club used a balanced offense and a steadily more effective defense to hold off visiting Bangor 72-64 before a standing-room-only crowd at “The Stable” in Hampden.
The pointworthy victory over the Class AA Rams improves the Class A Broncos to 9-0 on the season, while Bangor suffered just its second loss in eight games.
“The biggest points of emphasis were on defense and rebounding,” Hampden senior forward Mikey Raye said. “We know that we’re all good enough and smart enough to make the right play on offense, and if we were going to lose, it would be from not playing great defense and not checking out.”
Bangor, led by 6-foot-8 senior center Sam Martin, finished with a slight 25-24 rebounding edge. But Hampden’s defense came on strong during the second half, particularly from the midpoint of the third quarter to the middle stages of the final period when the Broncos outscored the Rams 20-10 to build a 10-point advantage.
That run came after a key stretch that began with an emphatic slam dunk by Bangor’s Henry Westrich after a Hampden turnover that rallied the Rams within 40-39.
But that excitement did not last a single possession. Junior forward Brayden Cole answered with a 3-pointer and, after Westrich and Martin followed with inside baskets to tie the game at 43-43, Hampden scored the next seven points to take the lead for good.
First Mikey Raye buried the second of his three 3-pointers in the third quarter, then Cole made a fast-break layup before senior guard Bryce Lausier scored from the lane to give Hampden a 50-43 cushion with 3:01 left in the period.
“I was real happy with our play tonight,” Bartlett said. “I thought when [Bangor] made momentum plays we didn’t worry about it. Like on the dunk, that can be a momentum swinger but on the next possession we came back and made a three.
“I didn’t call a timeout and let us play through it, and we handled it well.”
Hampden’s lead was 55-48 entering the fourth quarter and grew to double figures for the first time at 63-53 after Martin drew his fourth and fifth fouls, the latter coming with 3:52 to play.
Westrich tried to keep Bangor in contention, scoring eight of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, but Hampden made 9 of its last 11 free-throw tries to keep the Rams in check.
Cole led the Broncos’ offense with 18 points while Lausier finished with 17, and brothers Mikey Raye and Andy Raye scored 14 points each.
“It all goes back to the team atmosphere,” Cole said of the balanced Hampden attack. “Everybody trusts their teammates to make the right play, so they’ll pass up a good shot for a better shot for one of their teammates. There’s no sense of selfishness out there.”
Martin finished with 18 points and nine rebounds for Bangor, while senior guard Quinn Richards scored 10.
Cole’s 13 first-half points, including three 3-pointers in the second quarter, helped Hampden to its 35-34 advantage at intermission.
Both teams were efficient on offense, either with their initial shots or on second chances.
Martin paced Bangor with 12 first-half points on 6-of-6 shooting from the field along with six rebounds and two blocked shots. Andrew Szwez scored nine points and Richards had seven — including 5 of 5 from the free-throw line.
“I thought the first half was a very high-level half as far as the quality of play for both teams,” Bartlett said. “There were a lot of big kids out there playing. It was a big boy game, and it was fun to watch.”