February 21, 2013

EASTERN A BOYS BASKETBALL: Hampden a tall task for Lawrence

By Travis Lazarczyk tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

It’s been a long time since a team dominated Eastern Class A like Hampden Academy has dominated the region this season. No opponent has come within 10 points of the Broncos all season, and Hampden dominated a pair of playoff games, beating Mt. Ararat, 78-35, and Lewiston, 65-35.

click image to enlarge

Lawrence's Xavier Lewis tries to dribble past Brunswick's Blake Gordon during an Eastern Class A tournament game on Saturday February 16, 2013 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan


at Augusta Civic Center, Friday

No. 1 Hampden vs. No. 3 Lawrence, 8:45 p.m.

More tournament coverage:

Standing between the 20-0 Broncos and a second consecutive regional title is Lawrence (16-4). The Bulldogs are coming off a tough win over Edward Little in the semifinals, and are playing with extra emotion. Longtime coach Mike McGee announced his retirement earlier this season, and when the Bulldogs lose, McGee’s run is over.

“I just wanted to put them in a championship situation. Whatever happens, happens,” McGee said.

Tip is scheduled for 8:45 p.m. Friday, immediately following the Eastern A girls final between Cony and Bangor.

Hampden swept a pair of games from Lawrence in the regular season. The Broncos won 62-37 in Hampden on Dec. 18, and won the rematch in Fairfield, 51-35, on Jan. 29.

“Both teams play halfcourt man and both teams try to take really good shots. It’s just going to be who makes more baskets. It’s probably not going to be a pretty game, but it’s going to be a game we both believe in what  we’re doing. We’re going to see who can do it better,” Hampden coach Russ Bartlett said.

This is the eighth time McGee has led a Lawrence team to the regional finals, the last was in 2009. The Bulldogs and Broncos haven’t met in the playoffs since 2008, when Lawrence, the No. 6 seed, upset No. 3 Hampden, 49-46.

For Lawrence to pull the upset this time, however, the Bulldogs will need to play their best game of the season.

Hampden doesn’t rely on any one or two players offensively. In the tournament so far, four different Broncos — Zach Gilpin, Matt Palmer, Brian Fickett, and Tyler Norris — have scored in double figures, and freshman guard Nick Gilpin scored a game-high 16 points in Hampden’s last game against Lawrence.

The Broncos are big (Cameron Scott is the smallest starter at 6-foot-1) and quick, and that speed is most on display defensively. Hampden has yet to allow more than 46 points in a game.

Lawrence is led offensively by senior Spencer Carey, a semifinalist for Mr. Basketball, and junior Xavier Lewis. Senior Mason Travers scored a team-high 14 points in the Bulldogs’ 49-41 semifinal win over Edward Little, and senior Nick Noiles is another threat to score.

This will be the first time this season Lawrence plays Hampden at full strength, McGee said.
“Noiles missed the first game at Hampden and X (Xavier Lewis) missed the second,” McGee said.

Added Bartlett: “We’ll both be at full strength and that’s the way it should be at this time of year.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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