Mt. Blue High School’s Hunter Meeks (21) waves to the fans as he leaves the court after losing 57-54 to Hampden Academy in the Class A North quarterfinals Saturday night at the Augusta Civic Center. Michael G. Seamans

AUGUSTA —The Hampden Academy boys basketball team has been on both ends of tournament upsets over the years, winning as an eight seed and losing as a two. Saturday night, the top-seeded Broncos almost became the victim of the upset of the Class A North tournament.

Down to No. 8 Mt. Blue by eight points at the half, Hampden rallied, and then held on for a 57-54 win to advance. The Broncos (18-1) will face No. 5 Brewer in the semifinals Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center. No. 8 Mt. Blue ends the season at 8-11.

“When it was 28-20 at halftime, I said, our season is based on the next 16 minutes. That’s an eye opener when you say that,” Hampden coach Russ Bartlett said.

Hampden Academy’s Bryce Lausier (2) draws the foul from Mt. Blue High School’s Hunter Meeks (21) in a Class A North quarterfinal game at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday night. Michael G. Seamans

“We just came out flat. They played really well the whole game. At halftime, we talked about how we have to come out and play basic basketball,” Hampden senior Bryce Lausier, who scored 17 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, said.

Lausier basket and free throw with 1:37 left gave Hampden a 56-52 lead. A Camden Phillips basket cut the Broncos lead to 56-54, and Mikey Raye made the second of two free throws with 13.7 seconds left to give Hampden a three-point lead. With 10.5 seconds left, Mt. Blue called timeout to set up the game-tying chance.

With two seconds left, Jake Farnham got off an open baseline three that went off the front of the iron. The ball went out of bounds of a Hampden player on the rebound, but the officials ruled time expired before the whistle, ending the game.

“We practiced that play all week, and (Farnham) was supposed to get the ball in this corner,” Mt. Blue coach Troy Norton said, pointing to the baseline in front of the Mt. Blue bench. “He was open, but their length, Hunter Meeks just didn’t say him. But then he had the presence of mind to go around to the other corner. Jake Farnham is a great kid and a great player. When that ball left his hands, we were all thinking overtime. He makes those all the time.”

 

Down 12-8 after one quarter, Mt. Blue built its 28-20 halftime lead by outworking the Broncos for rebounds and loose balls. The Cougars forced seven Hampden turnovers in the second quarter, and Meeks (17 points) made a pair of foul shots to give Mt. Blue the eight-point halftime lead.

“I thought we were out of sorts offensively. We were trying to make our first pass from behind midcourt. We didn’t take care of the ball. I thought we had some people who looked nervous,” Bartlett said.

It didn’t help that Hampden’s 6-foot-7 center, TJ Henaghen, was in foul trouble most of the game. Henaghen picked up his third foul with 1:48 to play in the first half, and his fourth with 6:10 to go in the third quarter. Mt. Blue’s matchup zone also gave Hampden some trouble, as the Broncos adjusted to a defensive strategy they don’t often see.

“You don’t ever see that. We prepared for it, but you can’t really prepare for it until you go out there,” Bartlett said.

Hampden opened the second half playing with urgency, and a Lausier three gave the Broncos a 31-30 lead with 5:08 left in the third.

“When we took the lead in the third quarter, I felt a lot more comfortable. We just had to hit our shots. We’re a team that’s a pretty good shooting team from the outside. We didn’t do that in the first half,” Lausier said.

Mt. Blue responded with a 7-0 run to retake a 37-31 lead, and another Lausier three with 29 seconds left sent the teams to the fourth quarter tied at 39-39. Hampden made five 3-pointers in the second half.

“When we started moving the basketball, offense came a lot easier for us,” Bartlett said.

Freshman Zach Poisson hit a jumper with 6:10 left to give the Cougars a 47-45 lead, Mt. Blue’s last lead of the night.

“We had a great week of practice, and the kids believed. They believed we could win,” Norton said.

Brayden Cole scored 17 points for Hampden, while Mikey Raye added 12. Farnham had 10 points for Mt. Blue, while Poisson added eight, all in the second half.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

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