OAKLAND — The differences between the Messalonskee High School and Hampden Academy boys basketball teams are small. When these teams played in Hampden in December, Hampden earned a two-point overtime win. On Wednesday night at Messalonskee, it was another close game, and another victory for the Broncos.

Hampden took the lead for good with two and a half minutes to play, and the Broncos hit their free throws down the stretch to take a 57-47 win. Hampden is now 13-2. The loss snapped an eight-game win streak for Messalonskee (11-5).

“I feel like they dictated that last minute and a half. They executed. That’s a veteran team that’s been in those situations,” Messalonskee coach Peter McLaughlin said.

A Sawyer Michaud layup with 3:13 to play gave Messalonskee a 44-43 lead. Nick Gilpin’s basket with 2:36 left put the Broncos ahead, 45-44. Each team missed the front end of a one-and-one try and then Gilpin took over. While Messalonskee missed on scoring chances, Gilpin made eight free throws in the final 1:10 of the game.

“We had a couple turnovers that turned the tide,” McLaughlin said. “One point game, our posession, we force a bad pass, turnover, they convert, they take the lead.”

Nate Violette’s 3-pointer with 41 seconds to play cut Hampden’s lead to 49-47, but Gilpin (20 points) made two free throws on Hampden’s next posession, then two more after a Messalonskee turnover. Jake Black sank a pair of foul shots for the Broncos with 16 seconds left, and following another Eagles turnover, Brendan McIntyre scored in the closing seconds.

“I was really happy with the defensive effort the last 90 seconds of the game,” Hampden coach Russ Bartlett.

The defensive strategy Bartlett chose in the first half did what it was supposed to, keep Messalonskee’s 6-foot-8 Nick Mayo from taking over the game, but when extra defenders sagged on Mayo, other Eagles made big shots. Taylor Turner made a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, and Violette scored eight of his 11 points in the first half, which ended in a 26-26 tie.

“I thought we did a nice job with the extra helper, but the guys we left open made shots,” Bartlett said.

“Taylor Turner hit some big shots. Nate Violette hit some big shots. We needed other guys to step up in the first half, and they did,” McLaughlin said.

The Broncos scored the first six points of the second half, and led by as many as nine points in the third quarter. The offensive key, Gilpin said, was being patient and not forcing any shots in the lane. Many Hampden points came via short baseline jumpers.

“Nick Mayo really holds down the paint, so you can’t get in there to shoot,” Gilpin, who had 12 rebounds, said.

Brendan McIntyre scored 15 points for Hampden, while Conary Moore had eight points and eight boards. Mayo had 14 points, eight rebounds and a block for the Eagles.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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