AUGUSTA — Bailey Donovan earned the Class A North girls’ basketball tournament’s most valuable player award, and she did it Friday night in a way top-seeded Skowhegan never saw coming.

Clogging up the middle and flustering the previously undefeated Indians from start to finish, Donovan turned in a 32-minute defensive effort and scored the go-ahead points in the final minute, lifting No. 2 Hampden Academy to a 32-28 win in the regional final at the Augusta Civic Center.

“Our defense did it, and also our patience on offense,” said Donovan, who posted her third straight double-double of the tournament with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Broncos (17-4) advanced to the state championship game for the second year in a row. They’ll play Greely or Brunswick next Friday night in Augusta.

“As we’ve talked about every game, we held them to under 40 (points), which I didn’t think was possible,” Hampden Coach Nick Winchester said. “We turned their aggressiveness around on them.”

With Skowhegan (20-1) holding a one-point lead and 30 seconds to play, Amelia McLaughlin found Donovan off an inbounds play. Donovan quickly backed the ball into the paint and converted a three-point play while sending fellow Miss Maine Basketball semifinalist Annie Cooke to the bench with her fifth foul.

“We were trying to get it into the post, which was kind of our plan the whole game,” Donovan said. “It wasn’t really working out, they were kind of shutting me down. But in that situation, we knew we had to get it in there.”

McLaughlin thwarted Skowhegan’s bid to tie the game with 17 seconds left, stealing the ball from Sydney Ames near midcourt and taking it in for a layup and a four-point lead.

“It wasn’t anticipated at all,” McLaughlin said. “It was just kind of in the moment that I saw the ball and took it. I think (Alydia Brillant) was on the ball defending her, and (Ames) was more paying attention to her. While she wasn’t paying attention, I had an open lane to get it.”

Skowhegan was scoreless in the final 4:51.

“Early foul trouble, and we couldn’t make a shot,” Skowhegan Coach Mike LeBlanc said. “It is what it is. They came to play, and we had a letdown.”

The Indians had taken a 28-25 lead on Sydney Reed’s 3-pointer with just under five minutes remaining. They still led by one with more than two minutes left and were content to hold the ball and force Hampden into fouling, but two chances to add points came up empty. Alyssa Everett and Cooke each missed shots in the paint with under 85 seconds remaining.

“One of those shots I wanted, and one of them I didn’t,” LeBlanc said. “The one we got, I think there should have been a foul called.”

Skowhegan’s night couldn’t have started off more perfectly. The Indians rolled out to a 10-0 lead, forcing Hampden into turnovers on seven of its first eight possessions.

But the Broncos composed themselves and closed the first quarter with a 7-0 run, then outscored the Indians 9-6 in the second quarter to pull into a 16-16 tie. Cooke, who finished with 10 points, sat out the final 6:40 of the half after picking up her second foul.

Skowhegan shot just 29.2 percent in the first half against the 2-3 zone that Hampden used for the first time all season. That percentage went up only marginally in the second half.

“With Bailey in the middle, she could take away the skip pass, so the guards could come out and overplay us,” LeBlanc said. “We didn’t attack very well. We didn’t do a very good job.”

LAWRENCE 47, SKOWHEGAN 40: The fourth-seeded Bulldogs (13-8) earned their first regional championship in 20 years, beating No. 7 Skowhegan (10-11) in the Class A North final in Augusta.

Lawrence will face Greely or Falmouth in the state final next Friday at the Augusta Civic Center.

Tournament most valuable player Kobe Nadeau led the Bulldogs with 12 points. Adam Duprey and Gavin Herrin each added 10.

Chase Carey scored 13 points for Skowhegan, which couldn’t complete a comeback after falling behind 21-8 in the second quarter.


Comments are not available on this story.