Bangor High School junior forward Taylor Coombs had only one basket in Tuesday night’s Class AA North game with rival Hampden Academy at the Red Barry Gym in Bangor but it proved to be pivotal.
Coombs rebounded Laela Martinez’s missed 3-pointer and converted the offensive rebound with 1:54 left to snap a Bangor basket-less drought of 9 minutes and 12 seconds and help lead the Rams to a 29-26 triumph.
Her basket ended a 6-0 Bronco run and gave Bangor a 26-23 lead.
An Abbie Quinn free throw late in the third period was the only point Bangor scored during that 9:12 span as the Broncos rallied from a 24-17 deficit to pull within 24-23.
Just under a minute later, Laela Martinez and Coombs worked a give-and-go off an inbounds pass from the sidelines that resulted in Martinez nailing an open baseline layup to make it 28-23.
Coombs added a free throw with 35.6 seconds remaining before Hampden Academy’s Taylor Gardner hit a three to close out the scoring.
Both teams are now 4-2.
“The whole night, I just focused on my rebounding and defense. That’s what I do best,” Coombs said. “It’s not always about how many points you score. It’s about what you can do to contribute to the team.”
Coombs finished with seven rebounds and two steals to go with her three points.
“Taylor’s rebounding was very key to the win,” said junior point guard Emmie Streams. “She works really hard and that basket extended the lead. She rebounded very well.”
Coombs said the give-and-go leading to Martinez’s layup stems from the chemistry they have established playing together.
“A lot of people cheat on Taylor and go for her and that leaves the back door open for me,” said Martinez.
“That was a back-breaker,” said Hampden Academy coach Nick Winchester. “It was a rub screen on the side and we didn’t execute very well. Give [Martinez] credit. We had someone barrelling down on her from the other side but she still made the basket.”
Points were at a premium as both teams played smothering defense and neither team shot well, even if the shooters were open.
Bangor went 11 for 52 (21.2 percent) from the floor including a 4 for 20 showing beyond the 3-point arc (20 percent), while Hampden Academy was 9 for 35 (25.7 percent) and 5 for 18 (27.8 percent), respectively.
“We know we are going to have periods in a game when we aren’t going to score much and we have to power through it,” Streams said.
Low-scoring battles between these two teams is becoming common as last year’s Big East AA/A pod final was won by Bangor 31-28 in overtime. Hampden Academy was in Class A a year ago.
“These kids put so much emphasis and effort into their defensive intensity that they need to have to be competitive, it naturally takes away from the offense,” Winchester said. “We held a really good offensive team to 29 points with a stellar effort but we have to find a way to put in a few more shots.”
“Both teams pride themselves on their defense. To be able to win championships, you have to be able to defend good teams,” said Bangor coach Jay Kemble. “Our perimeter defense was pretty good tonight.”
Bangor used a 1-2-2 matchup zone and a box-and-one on Hampden Academy guard Bella McLaughlin while Hampden used a 2-3 zone and a man-to-man. Bangor forced 17 Bronco turnovers.
Martinez and Abbie Quinn shared the team lead in points with eight apiece. The 6-foot Quinn also had a game-high 10 rebounds. Streams added seven points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Emma Haskell had a game-high 12 points for the Broncos and she also hauled down three rebounds. McLaughlin netted six points, three rebounds and two steals and Lauren Voteur chipped in with five points and a team-high six rebounds.
Bangor scored 10 straight points in the second period to build a 16-8 lead. Haskell’s 3-pointer with 52 seconds left in the half were Hampden Academy’s only points in the period and made it 16-11 at the break.
Bangor led by as much as eight in the third period but senior forward Haskell scored all nine of her team’s points in the third and pulled Hampden within 24-20 with a Haskell three to close out the period.
Voteur’s foul line jumper early in the fourth quarter and free throw with 3:09 left made it 24-23 before Coombs and Martinez rebuilt the lead to five.
Bangor will host Windham on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. and Hampden Academy entertains Lewiston next Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m.