HAMPDEN, Maine – The Hampden Academy girls basketball team tuned up for Thursday afternoon’s showdown with defending state Class AA champion Oxford Hills of South Paris by scoring the game’s first 12 points and posting a 64-37 victory over Brewer on Tuesday night.

Junior guard Bella McLaughlin poured in a game-high 22 points and also contributed three rebounds and three assists as the Broncos improved to 4-0 in their first season in Class AA.

The Class A Witches fell to 2-2.

“We like to come out and play super hard and set the momentum for the rest of the game,” said Hampden Academy sophomore forward Lauren Voteur, who chipped in with six points and four rebounds.

Four of her points came during a 7-0 run in the third period after the spirited Witches had used a 14-4 spurt spanning the second and third quarters to whittle a 22-point deficit to 12 with 6:03 left in the third.

She sandwiched a pair of short jumpers around a 3-pointer by McLaughlin, which bounced around the rim before falling through the cylinder.

That made it 38-19 and Brewer couldn’t get any closer than 16 the rest of the way.

The Broncos parlayed their depth, athleticism and full-court man-to-man press to force a ton of Brewer turnovers and that led to easy transition baskets as they built a 27-5 lead.

“I love the press,” said McLaughlin. “It’s something new we’re doing this year. It really fits us. We know we aren’t tall but we’re fast and we use it to our advantage.”

The Broncos hit four of their first eight shots to create the 12-0 lead while Brewer missed its first six and turned the ball over four times.

Five different Broncos scored, with 3-pointers from Camryn Neal and McLaughliln capping the run.

“We dug ourselves a hole,” said Brewer coach Chris Horr. “We haven’t gotten off to a good start in any of our games. It took us a little bit to figure out what we wanted to do and how we were going to bring the ball up [against their press].”

Trailing 27-5, Brewer closed out the half on a 10-2 run with sophomore Mariah Roberts connecting for two of the baskets.

McLaughlin opened the second half with a steal and a layup but Roberts fed Jordan Doak for a layup and hit a short runner to make it 31-19 before Voteur and McLaughlin restored Hampden Academy’s comfortable lead.

“You have to give Hampden credit, they’re good. They’re really good,” said Horr, who was pleased with his team’s level of competition after the first seven minutes.

“Brewer played really hard,” Voteur said.

Senior Neal finished with 10 points and four rebounds. Sophomore Lucy Wiles produced six points, three steals and three rebounds for Hampden Academy and senior Taylor Gardner finished with six points and seven rebounds.

Roberts paced the Witches with nine points and five rebounds. Doak recorded six points and four rebounds and Trea Broussard had five points and six rebounds.

Kelly DiCarlo came off the bench and had four points and six rebounds for the Witches.

Hampden coach Nick Winchester said his team became a “one-pass offense” in the third quarter which is not what he wanted.

“We talked all week in practice about ball reversal. Every time we reversed the ball at least twice, we got open looks on the weak side for threes,” Winchester said. “Sometimes we get impatient. We want points quick. We attack the basket when nothing is there as opposed to moving the ball around.

“In order for us to be as good as we can be offensively, we have to be willing to drive the paint and we have to find other players in terms of creating offense. We can’t just do it with one pass,” he added.

Hampden Academy and Oxford Hills will play at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday while Brewer will visit Cony of Augusta for a 2:30 p.m. contest.