AUGUSTA — Messalonskee came within minutes, literally, of finding a way to solve the tournament’s most dominating physical presence.

The Eagles held Hampden Academy’s 6-foot-3 center Bailey Donovan to just six points in regulation, had her pinned to the bench to end the third quarter with four fouls and had fought their way back into the lead of the Class A North regional championship game Friday night.

But Donovan would not be denied.

The senior scored five of her 11 points when the Broncos needed them most — in overtime — lifting Hampden to a 42-37 win at the Augusta Civc Center, its third of the season over defending state champion Messalonskee.

Donovan hit a key bucket in the paint, on a third-chance putback after hauling down a pair of rebounds, to give Hampden the lead for good early in the extra period. She then sank the attached “and-one” free throw, finishing with four of her nine rebounds in overtime.

Hampden never trailed again after Donovan gave them a 38-35 lead.

In the third quarter, after scoring to give Hampden some control with a 25-20 lead, Donovan picked up her fourth foul with 2:58 remaining in the period. Winchester was succinct in describing his immediate reaction.

“Oh, no,” he said. “It wasn’t part of the game plan, but when she went down with a fourth (foul), I thought it would be a battle from here on out.”

But he also had faith in Braylee Wildman and Brooklynn Scott, among others, to hold the fort in the paint for the Broncos. Messalonskee mustered a small 6-0 run while Donovan was out, taking a 28-26 lead — its first since early in the first quarter — but couldn’t extend that advantage anymore.

Donovan returned with 6:47 left in the fourth quarter. In truth, Winchester wanted to wait a few more minutes to put his center back in, but felt like he couldn’t take the risk with the Eagles seizing the game’s momentum.

“We’ve had to play without her in stretches, and part of our rotation includes taking her off the floor,” Winchester said. “All of our kids can guard any spot on the floor. That was key for us. Brooklynn went into the post and bought us minutes. That was huge.”

Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby admitted that Donovan’s absence was an opportunity the Eagles couldn’t quite seize.

“They still have a lot of weapons, but I thought we could at least ride it out and make a little bit of a run,” Derosby said.

The Eagles’ coach didn’t do much to alter the way Messalonskee played in spite of Donovan — who had been key in two regular-season wins with Hampden.

“We didn’t change a whole lot,” Derosby said. “But their size and their switching really cut down any lanes for us. It made margin of error pretty small for back cuts and pick and rolls and things like that.”

When Donovan returned to the floor after the fourth foul, she didn’t change anything about her game, either. She went right back out and tried to be a force defensively, one which extended out to the perimeter at times.

“That made me extremely nervous, too,” Winchester said. “She’s just ultimately aggressive anyway, and sometimes we have to reel her in a little bit in those moments. Credit to our kids, they’ve been in that situation three or four times this year, they drew on that experience and never quit on each other.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC