Hampden Academy has a fair amount of championship experience coming off last year’s Class AA North title.
Coach Nick Winchester’s Broncos find themselves back in the regional championship game, this time against Gardiner. It’s a 6 p.m. Friday tipoff at the Augusta Civic Center.
Top seed Hampden cruised past Nokomis of Newport 66-29 in the quarterfinals, but got a bit more of a test in Wednesday’s 45-33 semifinal win over No. 4 Lawrence of Fairfield.
The Broncos are a team that thrives on its strong defense and its offensive balance. HA didn’t put any players in double figures in the semis, but has ample threats in Sydney Hodgdon, Alydia Brillant, Amelia McLaughlin, Megan Deans and Cam Neal.
Gardiner, the No. 2 seed, is in the title game after bowing out in the quarterfinals last season. The Tigers dispatched No. 7 Medomak Valley of Waldoboro 68-30 in the quarterfinals and held strong in beating sixth-seeded Skowhegan 41-34 in the semis.
The Tigers have a nice 1-2 punch in 6-foot-3 freshman Lizzy Gruber and Bailey Poore. The question will be whether they can weather the big-game pressure.
Hampden and Gardiner met only once during the regular season and the Broncos prevailed 38-31 on Jan. 31 in Hampden.
Hampden Academy should be equipped to take care of business and earn another shot at a Class AA state championship.