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If a tournament run was judged by style points, the Hampden Academy boys basketball team would have been watching Friday’s Class A North final from the stands at the Augusta Civic Center instead of from the bench.
Since resilience is a much more important factor, the Broncos are regional champions.
Coach Russ Bartlett’s club outscored Cony of Augusta 16-4 over the final 5 1/2 minutes on Friday night to rally past the Rams 52-50 and capture its second Class A North crown in three years.
The 20-1 Broncos, who had most recently won the Class A North crown in 2018, will play for the state title 5 at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29, at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland against South No. 1 winner York (21-0).
Second-seeded Cony ends its season at 16-5, including three losses to Hampden.
Senior guard Bryce Lausier — winner of the Al Halliday Award as the tournament’s outstanding player-sportsman — scored nine of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter as Hampden erased a 46-36 deficit with the help of a defense that held Cony more than 30 points under its regular-season average of 83 points per game.
“I thought in the last four minutes Bryce just put us on his back,” Bartlett said. “It wasn’t anything I said to him. It was more like, ‘I’m going to get the ball, and I’m going to create us offense right now.’
“We were in a spot where that needed to be done, and that’s why he’s a great player.”
Hampden took its first lead since 21-20 on a Mikey Raye free throw with 37.5 seconds left.
Cony worked the clock down before Simon McCormick passed to Dakota Dearborn, who was making a backdoor cut to the basket along the right baseline. Dearborn got to the rim but couldn’t finish the layup but Raye grabbed the rebound and got fouled with 3.1 seconds left.
“I was expecting [Dearborn] to go to the ball so I jumped it and he went backdoor on me,” Raye said. “It was just luck that he missed it. It was a bad play by me but we had great help defense, and I knew if he missed it I had to get the rebound so I recovered and got the rebound and made up for it, I guess.”
Raye made 1 of 2 from the line to give Hampden a two-point lead and after a Cony timeout, Dearborn’s half-court bid bounced off the back of the rim as time expired.
“At the end of the game we’re down one and we have a call we’re really comfortable with and we had worked on — in fact, we worked on it today,” Cony coach T.J. Maines said. “You get it there and we just missed it. Dakota missed that, but we’re not in this game without Dakota.”
Brayden Cole scored 11 points for Hampden, Andy Raye finished with 10 and freshman Landon Gabric came off the bench to contribute five points and a key assist in the fourth quarter.
Dearborn and McCormick each scored 19 points for Cony.
Hampden outscored its tournament opponents — Mt. Blue of Farmington, Brewer and Cony — by a combined seven points in three come-from-behind victories.
“We defended great in this tournament, and that’s why we’re still playing because offensively we really struggled,” said Bartlett, whose team overcame 22 turnovers against Cony’s attacking pressure defense.