This edition of the defending Class A North champion Hampden Academy girls basketball team is intent on creating its own identity during the 2020 tournament.
The top-ranked Broncos took the first step toward a new chapter in the program’s legacy Friday night, overwhelming Nokomis of Newport 66-29 in a regional quarterfinal at the Augusta Civic Center.
“I think it was very electric,” Hampden senior forward Alydia Brillant said of an effort that limited the eighth-seeded Warriors to just eight first-half points. “We talked before the game and in the huddle about how we wanted to make a statement and just play our game and show no mercy.“
The Broncos (18-1) advance to Wednesday’s 3:30 p.m. semifinal against No. 4 Lawrence of Fairfield (12-7), a team they defeated 51-41 in their lone regular-season meeting on Jan. 14.
Sydney Hodgdon led a balanced Hampden offense with 12 points while Amelia McLaughlin, Emma Haskell and Megan Deans scored 10 points each, with Deans grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.
“Our mentality is always defense but we really showed up on offense tonight,” Brillant said. “Everyone was able to shoot and we were making a lot of them.”
Freshman guard Camryn King scored a game-high 24 points for Nokomis, which ended its season at 7-12.
A Nokomis team that started three juniors and two freshmen averaged just 32 points per game during two regular-season losses to Hampden, and the rangy Broncos complemented their defensive might with an absolute shooting exhibition during the first half.
Seven different Hampden players scored as the Broncos shot a blistering 59 percent (17 of 29) from the field during the first two quarters — including 5 of 8 (62.5 percent) from the 3-point arc.
Hampden also made 4 of its 5 first-half free throws.
“We’ve played a lot of games on this floor, so I don’t know that the shooting background that people talk about is as much of a problem for them,” Hampden coach Nick Winchester said.
Freshman guard Isabella McLaughlin closed out the first quarter with a drive for a three-point play and a buzzer-beating 15-footer as Hampden moved out to a 16-4 advantage.
Nokomis eagerly battled the taller Broncos on the backboards, but nothing was stopping Hampden as it outscored the Warriors 27-4 during the second eight minutes of play on 11 of 17 shooting.
Amelia McLaughin and Haskell each scored seven points in the period.
“We just wanted to come out and play fast and I thought right out of the gate the kids came out and played fast,” Winchester said. “We played well in all phases of the game but it starts for us defensively. When you can go in at halftime only giving up eight points, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win the basketball game.
Offense for us is a byproduct of how well we play defense.”