Alydia Brillant has a fondness for midrange jumpers that is growing increasingly rare in the modern basketball world, an old-school approach to offense she credits to her parents.
The Hampden Academy senior displayed the value of the 12- to 15-foot jumper Friday night while scoring 11 of her team-high 15 points in the second half as the Broncos won their third consecutive Class A North championship with a 43-37 victory over Gardiner at the Augusta Civic Center.
Hampden (20-1) will play for the state championship at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29, at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland against No. 3 Marshwood of South Berwick (18-3), a 47-44 winner Friday over two-time defending state champion and top-seeded Greely of Cumberland Center.
Greely defeated Hampden in each of the last two state finals, 53-38 in 2018 and 54-42 in 2019.
Second-seeded Gardiner ends its season at 17-4.
Brillant made 4 of her 6 second-half shots, all from medium range, to jumpstart a Hampden offense that managed only six field goals en route to trailing Gardiner 19-17 at halftime.
“I’ve grown up with it,” Brillant said of her midrange philosophy. “My dad and my mom taught me to shoot from the corner, and we practice that shot a lot.
“It’s not a very common shot and knowing that my coach trusts me to take it, I have a lot of confidence in it.”
Isabella McLaughlin added nine points for Hampden, which made just four 3-pointers during the contest. Emma Haskell and Amelia McLaughlin scored six points each for the Broncos.
“People feel like they have to take threes or layups, and I just feel like if you space the floor you’re going to get open shots in those pockets where people can’t cover all those areas,” Hampden coach Nick Winchester said. “We just have a bunch of kids who shoot those shots really well.”
Junior forward Bailey Poore scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Gardiner, but no one else scored more than five points.
Izzy Gruber, Gardiner’s 6-foot-3 freshman center, ran into first-half foul trouble and managed just four points.
A 3-pointer by Amelia McLaughlin 2:09 into the second half gave Hampden a 23-21 lead — the first of three lead changes and two ties during a third quarter that ended with the Broncos making four free throws for a 31-28 lead.
Hampden never trailed in the fourth quarter, leading by four points on four different occasions and taking its largest lead of the night at the end of the contest.
“For us it’s about pace,” Winchester said. “If we keep a certain pace all game long, I really think by the time we get to the third and fourth quarters we start to stretch the game out a little bit more, and that’s what happened.”