Bangor High School’s Libby Fleming was seeking atonement when she stepped to the free throw line with 9.3 seconds remaining and her team leading by one in Tuesday night’s game against rival Hampden Academy.
“I had missed two free throws late in our last game against Cheverus and I had to redeem myself for those,” Fleming said.
The junior forward sank both ends of a one-and-one to help Class AA Bangor earn a pointworthy 32-29 victory over the previously undefeated and reigning Class A North champion Broncos at Red Barry Gym in Bangor.
“I was a little nervous but I told myself to calm down,” said Fleming, who finished with a team-high 11 points to go with five rebounds and two assists for the 5-3 Rams.
The Broncos (8-1) missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Points were tough to come by in this defensive struggle featuring Bangor’s 1-2-2 zone against Hampden Academy’s player-to-player.
Neither team allowed the other many open looks and both had trouble converting when they did get them.
Bangor shot 39.3 percent from the floor (11-for-28) and was plagued by turnovers.
Hampden Academy shot 27.3 percent (9-for-33).
Freshman Abbie Quinn complemented Fleming with 11 points, five rebounds and two assists. Freshman point guard Emmie Streams added five points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals and junior Maggie Cowperthwaite finished with four points, two rebounds and two assists.
Sophomore Emma Haskell poured in a game-high 15 points off the bench for Hampden Academy. Junior Megan Deans chipped in with five points and four rebounds. Freshman Bella McLaughlin had three points and three rebounds and sophomore Camryn Neal contributed three points and two assists.
Streams, who played the entire game, gave Bangor the lead for good when she converted one of two free throws with 29.3 seconds left.
“I knew I had to make them count. We needed them and I made one of two,” said Streams, who admitted being nervous.
Fleming broke a 27-27 tie with 3:03 left by nailing a pair of foul shots, but Haskell tied it up with an eight-foot baseline jump shot with 41.7 seconds left.
The largest lead for either team in the seesaw battle was a 17-12 advantage for the Broncos with 1:12 left in the first half.
Fleming then hit an important conventional 3-point play off a driving right-to-left layup to close out the half and pull Bangor within two.
Bangor’s largest lead was three points, in the third and fourth quarters and at the end.
An 8-2 run in the third quarter, featuring baskets from Streams, Rowan Andrews, Cowperthwaite and Fleming, gave Bangor a 23-20 lead before a Haskell 3-pointer tied it to finish out the quarter.
Fleming scored underneath and Quinn sank a free throw to open the fourth quarter and re-establish a three-point Ram cushion before the Broncos used free throws by Deans and McLaughlin to cut it to one with 4:29 to go.
The teams were never separated by more than two points the rest of the way until Fleming’s clinching free throws.
Libby Fleming said she didn’t anticipate such a low scoring game.
“It was an ugly win but a win is a win,” Fleming said.
“It was a great battle,” said Bangor first-year coach Jay Kemble. “Both teams played hard defensively … limited shots. Every time you play a rival like that, the intensity of the defense is a little bit stronger.”
“They have so many athletes that are able to cut and flash,” Kemble added. “We needed to be able to get some help-side pressure on those cutters and those lobs while being able to get out on the kids who are able to shoot [outside].”
Hampden Academy coach Nick Winchester credited Bangor with executing the things it wanted to do.
“They stuck with that 1-2-2 zone and kept us from being able to get the ball into the paint or on the baseline. They forced us to be perimeter-oriented and we played into it as opposed to playing through it. We allowed them to dictate the pace,” Winchester said.