Sophomore center T.J. Henaghan’s three-point play with 17 seconds left lifted top-ranked Hampden to a 54-52 victory over Brewer in a Class A North boys basketball semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday night.
The win advances coach Russ Bartlett’s club (19-1) to Friday’s 7:45 p.m. regional final against No. 2 Cony of Augusta (16-4), a 77-52 winner over No. 3 Medomak Valley of Waldoboro.
The Broncos defeated Cony twice during the regular season, 79-62 at Hampden on Dec. 16 and 81-76 at Augusta on Jan. 18.
Fifth-seeded Brewer finished its season at 13-7 after reaching the semifinals for the second straight year.
Hampden trailed by as many as nine points in the second half but used strong defense throughout the final two quarters to fuel its comeback.
“We only gave up 19 second-half points and that’s much better than we did in the first half, but credit to them, they’re a good offensive team,” Bartlett said.
“I thought they did exactly what they needed to do to beat us, but we just happened to make one more play at the end and that was really the only difference.”
Brewer had taken a 52-51 lead on a drive by its lone senior, Trevor Pearson, then Henaghen scored and was fouled after rebounding the miss of a Brayden Cole shot, with the subsequent free throw giving Hampden its two-point edge.
“It was great to get the board right underneath the hoop,” Henaghen said. “I just focused on laying it up soft on the backboard and I was really hoping I didn’t miss it.”
That edge nearly evaporated in the final seconds when Brewer corralled a loose ball after a missed shot and eventually got it to Kyle Goodrich, who made a 3-pointer just after the Witches had called timeout with 2.8 seconds left.
“I knew time was running down and everything was not organized for them because it was coming off a loose ball, and I think any coach would have called timeout right there,” Hampden coach Russ Bartlett said.
After the timeout Brewer inbounded the ball to Pearson along the right baseline, but his eight-foot turnaround shot over the 6-foot-7 Henaghen bounced off the rim as time expired.
Henaghen finished with a game-high 18 points for Hampden, while Bryce Lausier scored 13 points and Cole added 13.
Colby Smith scored 15 points and Pearson finished with 13 for Brewer.
Smith, normally more of a distributor as Brewer’s point guard, was the offensive aggressor in the first half.
The sophomore made all four of his field-goal attempts — one a 3-pointer — and went 6 of 7 from the free-throw line to score a game-high 15 points as the Witches built a 33-27 halftime advantage.
Henaghen scored nine points during a free-flowing first quarter, but Smith had 12 as Brewer emerged with a 20-19 lead after the opening eight minutes of play.
The back-and-forth play continued, with a 3-pointer by Cole giving Hampden a 27-25 lead before Brewer scored the final eight points of the second period for a 33-27 advantage.
A 3-pointer by freshman forward Brady Saunders ignited that run, then Pearson made two free throws before Dylan Huff beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer from the right of the key.
Brewer took its largest lead of the game at 45-36 on a Goodrich 3-pointer followed by a Huff free throw midway through the third quarter, but an 8-2 run by Hampden pulled the Broncos within 47-44 at the end of the period.
“It was good to come back and get the win,” Henaghen said, “but I didn’t feel like we were ever down by a lot because I knew we would keep pushing and keep playing and we ended up coming back.”