Bangor’s head coach Brad Libby coaches his players during game action in January 2021. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Bangor High School began Monday night’s 64-34 Class AA boys basketball victory over Hampden Academy with a near-perfect five minutes of play.

The Rams’ game-opening 18-0 blitz included seven assists on their first eight baskets and shutout defense — a performance that looked like the venting of all the frustration that had built up from the six consecutive losses they had endured coming into the game, agonizing losses suffered by an average of 7.8 points.

But Bangor senior forward Max Clark described the five minutes of fury and the decisive end of the losing streak at Red Barry Gymnasium quite differently.

“It started to be fun again,” he said. “We’ve been in a little bit of a lull lately and haven’t been able to finish, and I thought getting out to that lead was exactly what we needed.

“We started to play to have fun and we were unselfish out there, for sure. We really like to pass the ball and didn’t care who was scoring. We just wanted to get the open looks and then play tough defense at the other end.”

Clark had six assists and three steals during that stretch alone as Bangor pulled out to a lead that wasn’t threatened as coach Brad Libby’s club secured its first victory since a 60-50 win at Hampden more than a month ago, on Dec. 28.

“I think it was some pent-up frustration. We’ve played some good basketball the last few games and just haven’t come out on top, but it was a great team effort tonight,” Libby said.

“When we can get great energy and great stops on the defensive end it transfers to the offense. We got out and ran a little bit, and we did a good job of sharing the basketball. It was a team win all around.”

Hampden, which came into Monday’s game with two straight wins, never could get going, not for lack of effort but due to Bangor’s active defense and control of the backboards. The Rams outrebounded the Broncos 45-24.

Sophomore forward Landon Clark led 10 Bangor scorers on the night with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while senior guard Ben Caron and reserve forward Colby Leavitt added 10 points apiece.

As for Max Clark, he finished with two points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals before calling it a game with the rest of Bangor’s starters midway through the third quarter with another challenge awaiting the 6-7 Rams at home on Tuesday evening against Lewiston, at 10-4 the No. 4 seed in Class AA North.

“Today was a game that showed this is the basketball team that we can be when we need to be,” Clark said. “February starts [Tuesday] and we need to kick it up a notch, and this is good timing for this. We’ve got a long way to go for sure, but it feels good to go into this stretch playing Bangor basketball.”

Zach McLaughlin led 2-11 Hampden with 11 points and six rebounds while J.J. Wolfington added eight points.

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...