MT. ARARAT’S Lauren Sturgess (21) defends against Hampden Academy’s Courtney Dunton (31) during an Eastern Maine Class A girls prelim basketball game at Hampden on Tuesday. The Broncos won, 54-44.

MT. ARARAT’S Lauren Sturgess (21) defends against Hampden Academy’s Courtney Dunton (31) during an Eastern Maine Class A girls prelim basketball game at Hampden on Tuesday. The Broncos won, 54-44.

HAMPDEN

The Mt. Ararat High School girls basketball team had the end of its regular season going in its favor, with standout Lindsey Cornelison fighting her way back from an injury to put the extra “push” back in the Eagles lineup.

Also, the Eagles managed to battle their way back up the standings, beating Lewiston with two games to go to secure the final playoff spot in Eastern Maine Class A.

Sitting at No. 9, Mt. Ararat traveled to Hampden Academy (10-9) on Tuesday to face the No. 8 Broncos in a preliminary playoff game. Winner of that game was set to take on No. 1 ranked Bangor on Friday at the Augusta Civic Center. However, the Eagles found the unfortunate end to their season, falling to the Broncos, 54-44.

The Broncos turned around their early season struggles on the floor in regard to turnovers and rebounds, taking advantage of an overall 37-24 difference in rebounding, including 11 offensive boards to help lead the way to the victory.

“We matched up very well,” Mt. Ararat first-year head coach Andy Morris said after the game. “But even in the first half, we were down either eight or nine on the boards and we kind of talked about that and it didn’t really change. They (Hampden) attacked the boards quite well. We tried to box out and, you know, it is what it is.”

“We did, especially toward the end,” Broncos head coach Tim Scott said about his team’s ability to make crucial plays. “We got some good rebounds, made some good foul shots, handled the press pretty well at the end of it. They’ve come a long way since (the beginning), they just came out and played and it’s a joy to be part of their success.”

The first half was nip and tuck, with the largest deficit being no more than five points, with the lead changing hands five times and the Eagles trailing by only three when the buzzer rang at the end of the half.

The first quarter specifically was a game of runs, with Hampden starting the game off 5-0 and the Eagles answering with an 8-0 spurt to take a three-point lead. A Nikki Bradstreet 3-pointer with 1:18 remaining pushed her team ahead, 13-10.

“Basically it was focus on 13 (Sara Lamb), we know she can shoot it, that was one of our main goals,” Scott said about his team’s preparation. “Focus on 33, Cornelison, I remember her from last year, good player and I’m glad she came back and at least got a few games in during her senior year. Just trying to shut them down, at least minimize their damage was our game plan and I think we did it pretty well.”

Broncos pull away

There didn’t seem to be a better word than “pesky” to describe Hampden’s offense in the second half. The Broncos continued to hold their edge and it appeared that no matter how hard the Eagles fought back, the hosts had an answer for everything.

Mt. Ararat dumped in a quick four points to take back the lead by one, but the Broncos went on an 8-2 run to take hold of a 31-28 advantage at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth the Broncos had the answer on the boards, outrebounding the Eagles, 12-5 and putting together an 8-for-14 performance from the field, as opposed to the Eagles’ 2-for- 10 showing to pull away and seal the deal.

“I think we had a slow start,” Eagles senior Allison Melcher said. “At the end our intensity picked up and maybe if we had that kind of intensity in the beginning it would have gone differently. I think we played really hard though, some things didn’t go our way, some shots didn’t fall when they should have.”

“I think we needed to go inside a lot more or better,” Morris said about what needed to go differently in the game. “Even in the last couple of timeouts we sort of diagrammed it out, the ball needed to go to the wing, we post up hard, count two, move, have two posts coming back, but the execution wasn’t there and sometimes the posts weren’t there. Down the stretch we missed a couple of shots. Sara hits another one of those big ones or Kate Guerin hits one of the two 10-footers that she missed, it would have been a different game.”

The Eagles completed their season 6-13 overall, but for Morris, who experienced his final game in his first season at the helm for the Eagles, said the whole experience has been nothing but positive.

“I wouldn’t change this for the world,” he said. “Someone asked me that the other day, if this thing opened up again and we were in the same spot and I knew the season was going to be like this, they just make a huge difference, they’re great kids, smart kids, they work hard and they’ve done everything we’ve tried to do as a coaching staff. One of the quickest winners I’ve had as a coach.”

“I think it’s been pretty great actually,” Melcher said of her team’s experience under the direction of Morris for the first time. “It was a pretty smooth transition. Most of the people on our team had Coach (Kelly) LaFountain, but I don’t think it really affected anything. We just had to get used to his style of coaching, but I think it worked well and we got used to it and kept working.”

For Melcher, her high school basketball career has come to a close, but said she has developed many memories during her time on the squad.

“I’ve loved it,” she said. “My first year (on varsity) we had a really good team and made it to the Civic Center, which was an awesome experience. We always work really hard and I’ve always been proud to be a part of this team.”

Hampden Acad. 54, Mt. Ararat 44

At Hampden Academy

Mt. Ararat 15 5 8 16 44
Hampden 12 11 8 23 54

Mt. Ararat — Lauren Sturgess 2-3-7, Sara Lamb 3-0-8, Nikki Bradstreet 2- 1-7, Allison Melcher 1-8-10, Lindsey Cornelison 2-0-4, Kate Guerin 4-0-8, Taylor Wienckowski 0-0-0, Lauren Labbay 0-0-0, Katelyn Cox 0-0-0, Eliza Hodge 0-0-0, Totals — 14-12- 44. Hampden — Erin Murphy 2-0-4, Marissa Gilpin 2-4-9, Brooklynn Scott 4-5-15, Sophie Narofsky 2-3-7, Courtney Dunton 3-3-9, Braylee Wildman 1-0-2, Erica Martin 3-0-6, Daija Misler 1-0-2, Peyton Smith 0-0-0, Totals — 18-15-54. 3-point field goals — (MtA) Bradstreet 2, Lamb 2; (HA) Scott 2, Gilpin. Records — Hampden 10-9; Mt. Ararat 6-13. Note — Mt. Ararat’s season is completed after Tuesday’s loss to Hampden. The Broncos face top-seeded Bangor on Friday at 8:30 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center.


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