FARMINGTON — They’ve been at the top of Class A North all year with little to no room to separate them.

Until Tuesday, though, the Mt. Blue and Hampden Academy boys basketball teams haven’t met on the floor — but when they finally did, it took until a single second remained for the two to finally become detached.

Hampden earned a 48-47 victory over Mt. Blue in a key late-season Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A North clash. Victory was claimed when Liam Henagen made the second of two free throws with 1 second left to lift the Broncos to victory in a back-and-forth affair.

Hampdens Will Kelley dribbles the ball as Mt. Blue’s Tyler Abell defends during a boys basketball game Tuesday in Farmington. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

“It was a great game, and both teams played really hard,” said Mt. Blue head coach Troy Norton. “I told our kids after the game that I didn’t think we could have played any harder. With two teams like that, it’s almost like a tournament game, and one like this is going to help both of us down the road.”

Mt. Blue (14-3) jumped out to a 5-0 lead to begin the game before Hampden answered with three straight layups to take the lead. With the score tied 8-8, the Broncos then got a layup from J.J. Wolfington to end the first quarter and another to begin the second to give the visitors a two-score advantage.

The trading runs, though, would soon end — in fact, for the rest of the first half, neither team led by more than a score.


Mt. Blue got 3-pointers from Carter Norton, Evans Sterling and Tyler Abell, but Hampden (15-2) answered each time at the other end. Trailing by one inside a minute, the Cougars got an and-one from Sterling, but a Wolfington buzzer-beater at the other end knotted the score at 24-24 going into the break.

“If we were going to win, we were going to have to keep them in the 40s. If they scored in the 60s like they usually do, we weren’t going to beat them,” said Hampden head coach Russ Bartlett. “They had a big second quarter, but we stayed with them, and from there, we put ourselves in a good spot to make enough plays.”

Those plays didn’t come until after Mt. Blue used a 7-0 run to begin the second half to establish the largest lead either team would have all game. Yet with the Cougars leading 33-27, Hampden went a 9-0 run to take a three-point lead and plenty of momentum into the fourth quarter.

Still, Mt. Blue was far from done, and with the Cougars trailing 38-36 with six and a half minutes to go, they went on a 9-0 run to take the lead with three and half to play. Hampden, though, responded with a 7-0 spurt to retake the lead 47-45 with 1:20 left before Sterling tied it on a layup with 45 seconds to go.

“They made that run to start the third quarter, and Aidan (Kochendoerfer) had a couple big drives where he drew contact and finished that helped us get back to even,” Bartlett said. “Then we went back and forth, and J.J. made a big 8-footer uncontested, but they came down and tied it at the other end. It was great basketball.”

Mt. Blue wasn’t able to get off another meaningful shot. With the Cougars playing tight defense, Hampden’s final play failed to produce the look it wanted at first, but in the dying seconds, Henaghen went up for a shot and was fouled with 1 second to play.


Henaghen missed the first shot, but the second was money.

Mt. Blue’s final shot fell well short as Hampden claimed a second consecutive victory without Zach McLaughlin, one of the state’s top players.

“Every single time we’re at practice, we get time to shoot free throws with that exact moment in mind,” Henaghen said. “The first one felt good coming out of my hand, but it was just unlucky, but the second that first one missed, I knew I wasn’t going to miss the second one; I’m never going to miss two in a row.”

Mt. Blue’s Evans Sterling dribbles the ball against Hampden during a boys basketball game Tuesday in Farmington. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Wolfington had a game-high 16 points for Hampden, and Kochendoerfer added 14 points (six on the aforementioned and-ones in the third quarter) and seven rebounds. Sterling scored a team-high 12 points for Mt. Blue, which also got 10 points apiece from Carter Norton and Nolan Leso.

The win gives Hampden a better chance to clinch the No. 1 seed over Mt. Blue with a win in its final game Thursday against Nokomis (11-6)

Troy Norton, however, felt it should be put into perspective that the Cougars, picked to finish sixth in the Class A North preseason poll, have managed to come this far.

“I told the kids in the locker room that if you told us at the beginning of the season we’d be 14-3 and would be either the 1 or 2 seed, we’d be ecstatic,” Norton said. “We’ve had a great season so far, we’ve got one more game Thursday, and then, we’ll go to the tournament and try to go on a run.”

Mt. Blue wraps up its regular season on the road at Gardiner (3-13).

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