Hampden’s Amelia McLaughlin, front, tries to grab a rebound as Skowhegan’s Emma Duffy, right, closes in during a game Friday night in Skowhegan. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

SKOWHEGAN — Though there was nowhere near as much on the line, the rematch nearly lived up to the original.

Senior Alydia Brillant drained a 3-pointer with under a minute to play and made two free throws in the final seconds, bringing Hampden Academy back from behind for a 60-57 win over Skowhegan in the Class A North girls basketball season opener Friday night. The game was a rematch of last February’s regional championship game, also won by Hampden.

“I think this really sets the tone for us,” Brillant said. “It was definitely a wake-up call that we need to get in really good shape and play well. I think it was a really good game for us.”

Skowhegan’s Jaycie Christopher, left, batles Hampden’s Bella McLaughlin, center, and Amelia McLaughlin for the ball during a game Friday in Skowhegan. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Emma Duffy’s 3-pointer had given Skowhegan a 57-55 lead with just over a minute to play before Brillant almost immediately made her decisive go-ahead shot at the other end of the floor.

Brillant scored all 11 of her points in the second half for Hampden (1-0). It negated a dominant performance from Skowhegan sophomore Jaycie Christopher, who scored a game-high 35 points and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds, as well.

“We had to get it back,” Brillant said. “In that moment, I was’t really thinking about it. I just threw it up. It felt really good, and I knew I had to knock it down.”

“What she did was let offense come to her versus trying to force offense,” Hampden coach Nick Winchester said of Brillant. “What she ended up getting were wide open shots and she knocked them down, to her credit.

“This is her time to sort of assert herself. Her ability to stretch the floor from that post position makes a tough matchup.”

Skowhegan (0-1) led by seven at halftime, 30-23, before the Broncos utilized a full-court press to wreak havoc in the home team’s backcourt and claw back into the game.

The two teams either tied the game or exchanged the lead 14 times in the second half.

“We used (the press) a lot and just remembered how to do it yesterday in practice, and it really helped us today. I think that’s going to create a lot of problems for teams this year.”

Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc, disappointed by the loss, was not unhappy with the play of his team — a team which had to replace all five starters from last season’s 20-1 team.

“They sped us up, and we didn’t execute very well,” LeBlanc said. “That’s the sign of a young team. But when we went into the game we wanted to compete, and we did that — so I’m happy with that. The girls competed.”

Duffy finished with 13 points for Skowhegan.

For Hampden, junior Megan Deans scored a team-high 12 points and sophomore Camryn Neal added nine. 

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