Lawrence basketball coach Mike McGee likes what he’s seen so far from a team he calls “the quickest, most athletic team I think I’ve had here in 30 years.”

That’s what makes Tuesday’s 49-47 home loss against Hampden Academy so frustrating. McGee’s Bulldogs played stifling defense in the first half, holding the Broncos to 14 points. They led 34-25 going into the fourth quarter where they were outscored 24-13.

“We controlled the tempo for three quarters,” McGee said. “We played great defense. They turned up the defensive pressure and turned us over.”

Starting point guard Emmitt Faulkner missed the game due to back spasms, pushing Tim Dudley from off guard to the point. In addition to playing that position, Dudley had to guard Hampden’s Christian McCue.

“I think McCue wore him down,” McGee said. “I think he got tired.”

The Broncos tied the game with about four minutes left and led by one when junior Spencer Carey was fouled with 12 seconds remaining but he missed both shots. Free-throw shooting has been a sore point for the Bulldogs who are shooting well under 50 percent this season.

“We’ve shot the ball well from the outside,” McGee said. “We just haven’t been shooting foul shots very good. It almost cost us the Brunswick game, too.”

On the plus side, the Bulldogs are getting excellent play from Carey, Dudley, Alex Leathers and Nick Noiles. Dudley has been guarding the opposing team’s top perimeter player while the 6-foot-4 Leathers takes the best post player.

“Alex Leathers is playing phenomenal,” McGee said. “He’s playing both ends and he’s shooting the ball extremely well.”

Leathers finished with 11 points Tuesday, including a pair of 3-pointers. Carey, who finished with 17 points, has been a consistent scorer all season while Noiles scored 11 off the bench.

Lawrence (4-1) plays Cony and Brunswick in the Capital City Hoop Classic next week at the Augusta Civic Center before resuming its regular-season schedule at Mt. Blue on Dec. 30.

* * *

Hall-Dale took its first loss of the season Tuesday night, dropping a 62-51 decision at Boothbay.

“It was a close game all the way,” Hall-Dale coach Jim Patrick said. “We got into some foul trouble.”

The Bulldogs played without 6-4 junior Sam Shepherd, who is averaging six blocked shots a game. The Seahawks took advantage of his absence, getting 14 points and 14 rebounds from freshman John Hepburn and 21 points from Ben Dickinson.

Hall-Dale countered with junior Michael Woods, who scored a game-high 26 points. Woods is part of a four-guard rotation that includes Tyler French, Austin Bechard and Ben Crocker. Most of Woods’ points, Patrick said, were the result of layups and tough defense.

“It’s his defense that’s causing his offense,” he said.

The Bulldogs, who play six of their first eight games on the road, travel to Spruce Mountain and Madison next week.

“We’re playing really good,” Patrick said. “A very fast-paced basketball game with a lot of quick guards and a lot of pressure.”


* * *

It often takes a loss to point out a team’s weakness and Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy thinks he found one in his team’s 64-53 loss at Medomak Valley last Friday.

“They’re a quality team, we knew that,” Cassidy said. “If we want to finish strong we have to add a transition game. We have a team built for it.”

The Panthers played a triangle and two defense on Gardiner’s Aaron Toman and Jake Palmer. Toman finished with 21 points but the rest of the team struggled in its halfcourt offense. Cassidy brings Tyler Jamison and Dennis Meeehan off the bench and both, he said, fit into a running style of play.

Medomak Valley’s lead was 10 points or less throughout the game.

“If they’re the cream of the crop and we keep improving we’ll be able to make a tournament appearance,” Cassidy said.

* * *

Maranacook is getting good minutes from a strong group of sophomores.

After opening the season with a good effort in an overtime loss against Leavitt, the Black Bears stumbled in losing to Gardiner. Since then, they’ve beaten Morse and Oak Hill.

“I wouldn’t say we’re playing better, but it’s nice to get a couple of wins on the board,” coach Rob Schmidt said.

Sophomore Taylor Wilbur is in the starting lineup and averaging double figures while Brad Worster, Richard Hall and Caleb Jackson are coming off the bench. Hall and Wilbur often alternate at point guard when senior Seth Miller is on the bench.

“They’re having some good minutes,” Schmidt said. “I’m real happy with that sophomore class. The biggest surprise would be Brad Worster. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.”

The Black Bears have a bye Tuesday before playing at Camden Hills on Friday, Dec. 30.

“I really like the way this team works,” Schmidt said. “They give everything they have every night.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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