The road to a state championship game is rarely easy.
But the similar routes taken by the Hampden Academy and Dexter boys basketball teams epitomize the depth and the unpredictability of tourney time in Maine.
Hampden Academy, which finished the regular season nearly 60 Heal Points ahead of its nearest Class A North rival, barely led in any of its three regional tournament games at the Augusta Civic Center.
Yet the 20-1 Broncos survived considerable last-second drama to win those three contests by a combined seven points. That earned coach Russ Bartlett’s club a spot in Saturday’s 3 p.m. state final against undefeated York at Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena.
“I really think we start off a little slow because we’re young,” said Mikey Raye, one of just four seniors and two senior starters for Hampden. “Who wouldn’t be nervous? It’s a big gym, everyone’s here, everyone’s talking, social media is going crazy, so I feel like we’re nervous in the first half and then we pull it out in the second half.
“We focus, we calm down, we make the game slower and we make the adjustments we need.”
Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...
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