HAMPDEN, Maine — Most of the names and faces were different, but the bottom line was the same as its been for nearly seven years — the Hampden Academy boys basketball team does not lose at home.
Ian McIntyre, the lone holdover back from last year’s starting lineup, played elder statesman to near perfection Tuesday evening as the Broncos held off Messalonskee of Oakland 59-48 in a clash of Class A North powers.
The 6-foot-5 junior center finished with 18 points, 15 rebounds, four blocked shots and a defensive presence that stifled Messalonskee’s inside game as coach Russ Bartlett’s club scored its 57th consecutive home-court victory — a streak that dates back to a Jan. 18, 2010, loss to Mt. Blue of Farmington.
McIntyre also offered words of advice to a new group of teammates with relatively little varsity experience coming into this season.
“With our younger guys I had to explain to them that we can’t just focus on not losing,” he said. “We have to focus on winning the game, because if we focus on not losing, it’s almost like we’re defensive, and we have to go out and attack.”
Junior guard Kory Winch came off the bench to score 19 points for Hampden, and freshmen Bryce Lausier and Mikey Ray added eight points each.
Hampden, coming off a lopsided win at Skowhegan in its opener last Friday, continued that dominance early on against Messalonskee, a team picked to finish first in the Class A North preseason coaches’ poll, one spot ahead of the Broncos.
McIntyre worked the inside for 10 points and seven rebounds, and Winch added eight early points as Hampden built a 31-19 halftime lead.
“Hampden does a great job with the defensive rotations, and McIntyre did a great job locking down the paint,” said Messalonskee coach Pete McLaughlin. “I thought we missed some open shots early, and once they started to extend the lead, we started pressing a bit to make the perfect play instead of letting the game come to us.”
Messalonskee (1-1) made few inroads immediately after intermission. In fact, a 3-pointer by Winch to close out the third quarter and another 3-pointer by Ray to open the fourth extended the Broncos’ lead to 41-23.
But then Messalonskee cranked up its full-court defensive pressure, overwhelming the youthful Hampden guards at time and forcing a succession of fourth-quarter turnovers that led to transition offense, most noticeably from senior guard James Kouletsis.
Kouletsis scored 14 of his game-high 22 points during the game’s last eight minutes, including four 3-pointers as the Eagles clawed back into contention.
A 15-2 run capped off by a 3-pointer from the left corner by senior guard Nate Violette (16 points) narrowed the deficit to 43-38 with 3:25 left, but Messalonskee got no closer than six the rest of the way as Hampden found offense at the free-throw line.
The Broncos made 12 of their 14 free throws during the fourth quarter, including 6-for-6 by Winch.
“I thought we were on the right end of the score, and I thought we learned a lot about ourselves tonight,” said Bartlett. “I think if we’re put in that situation again, we’ll be better at it, but that’s the first time we’ve been put in that situation.”