AUGUSTA — The Class A North tournament was a week of comebacks for the Hampden Academy boys basketball team, and the Broncos made their biggest rally in the biggest game.

Down 10 points to Cony with six minutes to play in the regional final, Hampden rallied to take a 52-50 win and advance to next week’s Class A state championship game. Hampden improved to 20-1, while Cony finished 16-5.

“We just had to stay composed. I know I’ve been saying that the whole tournament, but that’s the key to winning. You’ve got to stay composed and take good shots,” said Hampden senior Bryce Lausier, who scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. “I thought we were getting some pretty good looks, they just weren’t falling. Toward the end we were getting good looks and making them.”

Added Hampden coach Russ Bartlett: “I think the key was, we played from behind the entire tournament. It felt like in the last four minutes, though, Bryce wasn’t going to let us lose. We got him the ball in the halfcourt, we gave him some space, and he took the game over. Quite frankly, we needed him to.”

Hampden scored the final six points of the game. TJ Henaghan’s layup with 1:20 left tied the game at 50. After a Cony turnover, Mikey Raye hit a foul shot with 37.5 seconds left to givr the Broncos a 51-50 lead. Cony had a chance at the go ahead basket when Simon McCormick hit Dakota Dearborn for an open layup with five seconds left, but the shot went off the rim and out. Mikey Raye grabbed the rebound and made one of two free throws, setting up Cony for a last ditch try with 3.1 seconds left.

After a timeout, the Rams got the ball to halfcourt, where Dearborn was able to get a clean shot, but the ball went off the back of the iron.

“Heartbreaking. You had it right there. We had two or three tough calls at the end. The travel by Simon (with 1:11 to play) on the baseline was insane to me,” Cony coach TJ Maines said. “We just didn’t finish it off. It’s mind-numbing to know you’re that close and you didn’t finish it off. It hurts. There’s a lot of tears.”

The layup chance down one in the closing seconds was the exact shot the Rams hoped to get.

“We had the backdoor look, and just didn’t finish it off. We had it set, and it worked. It was there. (Hampden) did a pretty good job of trying to contest it. Dakota just missed. He’s right there to make the play and do what he’s supposed to do, and Simon, everybody on the floor did what they’re supposed to do,” Maines said.

Down 46-36, Lausier scored seven straight points to pull the Broncos within three, 46-43, with 4:44 to play. Being aggressive and driving the basket was the spark that ignited the offense, Lausier said.

“Driving the ball creates great opportunities for my teammates to finish layups and hit threes,” Lausier said.

Tied 23-23 at the half, Cony scored the first seven points of the second half and built a 38-27 lead. The Broncos rallied, cutting Cony’s lead to two early in the fourth on a Landon Gabric basket, before Cony pushed the lead back to 10 points on a McCormick basket with 6:05 to play.

In the first half, both teams’ Mr. Basketball semifinalist gave way to teammates, as far as the scoring load was concerned. For Hampden, Bryce Lausier had just four points in the first half. Braden Cole scored seven points in the second quarter, while Andy Raye scored eight points for the Broncos, including a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter.

For Cony, Dearborn scored 15 of the Rams 23 first half points, including 12 in the second quarter, when Cony overcame an early seven-point deficit to take a brief lead. McCormick had six points in the first half for Cony. While the Rams turned the ball over just five times in the first half to Hampden’s 12, the Rams failed to convert their extra chances into points, missing shots from the perimeter and the paint, as well as going 3 for 8 at the line.

Hampden finished with 21 turnovers, but just three in the fourth quarter.

“We were trying to force the ball a little bit. At times, I thought Bryce just needed to keep the ball longer. Their pressure wasn’t really stopping him, it was more just slowing us up,” Bartlett said.

McCormick and Dearborn each scored 19 for the Rams.

“What I love about our guys is that they’re tough kids. They’re young men, they’ve taken responsibility for the game not ending the way they wanted it to,” Maines said. “They’re going to keep their heads high.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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