Hampden Academy made quick work of Bangor High School on Tuesday night at home.
An early lead was enough for the Broncos who fended off the charging Rams in the fourth quarter and earned a 65-54 win at home.
The Broncos jumped out to a quick 13-2 lead in the first 3:40, with Zach McLaughlin, Brandon Butterfield and Aiden Kochendoerfer all hitting 3-pointers.
Butterfield helped the ball move through the team on offense, notching a couple of assists and passes that turned into assists to help Hampden to a 19-6 lead after the first quarter.
“His job is ball control and keeping us organized and I thought he did a really good job with that tonight overall,” Hampden coach Russ Bartlett said. “He’s very unselfish, so he filled his role to a T.”
In the second quarter, Hampden’s Ryan Gabric scored six points, had a steal and a block to help the Broncos tack onto their ever-increasing lead.
Midway through the second quarter, the Broncos went on a 14-2 run that was capped off by a Butterfield triple with 1:08 left in the first half that gave Hampden a 38-13 lead. At halftime, Hampden led 40-16.
“I thought we dribbled the ball a lot less in the half court and moved the ball better,” Bartlett added. “We’re at our best when we are moving the ball and not over-dribbling. We even did that in the third quarter.”
Bangor’s Connor Boone led the Rams through the first half with six points and started to heat up in the third.
Boone, one of only two players on Bangor that played varsity minutes a season ago alongside Wyatt Stevens, poured in 11 more points in the third to help the Rams stay in the game, if not for McLaughlin’s third frame.
“We’re leaning on them a lot, especially to be leaders,” Bangor coach Brad Libby said. “Even Connor and Wyatt, even though they had varsity minutes, they didn’t have a lot. So they’re fairly new to playing minutes but their leadership, especially in the fourth, really showed. We need to follow that and have 32 minutes of 100-percent effort.”
McLaughlin, a top scorer in Class AA, hit three 3-pointers in the third and also hit a mid-range jumper to get 11 of his 23 points on the night. The junior was seemingly automatic from the field and his play helped the Broncos to a 58-29 lead after three quarters.
“I started feeling it, started getting into my groove,” McLaughlin said. “I had a slower first half but found my shot.”
Bartlett said McLaughlin “let the game come to him” and it helped him get going on offense.
“He’s a special scorer because he can score on all three levels,” Bartlett said. “Sometimes he forces the issue a little bit, but I thought he didn’t do that tonight.”
The Rams came out firing in the fourth quarter and started the period on a 10-2 run that cut the deficit to 60-39 before Nick Johnston answered with a 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:48 to play. Bangor out-scored Hampden 25-7 in the fourth.
“We battled and that’s what good teams do,” Libby said. “It wasn’t our night the first three quarters — offensively and defensively we weren’t there — but hats off to our guys because a lot of teams would have folded 30 points down.”