Last modified Dec. 16, 2015, at 11:34 a.m.
But you wouldn’t know that by the intensity level on display Tuesday night, as senior guard Jake Black scored 17 points — including four 3-pointers — to help defending Class A state champion Hampden score a 54-46 win in what is now an inter-class matchup.
Bangor, now 1-3 in its first season of Class AA competition, used aggressive defense to stay within striking distance of the four-time reigning Eastern A champion Broncos for most of the night.
But a 9-0 Hampden run at the outset of the second half stretched the Broncos’ lead to double digits, and while Bangor’s Justin Smith kept his team in contention with a flurry of 3-pointers the Rams couldn’t get closer than seven points the rest of the way.
“I don’t think it was a thing of beauty, but we were on the right end of the score,” said Hampden coach Russ Bartlett, whose team is now 4-0 to start the season.
Senior guard Nick Gilpin added 14 points and game-high totals of 10 rebounds, six rebounds and four steals for Hampden, while sophomore center Ian McIntyre added 13 points and five rebounds.
Black also contributed four blocked shots, but it was his long-range shooting that helped the Broncos maintain a modest lead for most of the evening.
“I thought we did a pretty good job, as experienced, as composed as they are, forcing them into some mistakes,” said Bangor coach Carl Parker. “But it seemed every time we forced them into a mistake Jake would hit a three.”
Bangor induced several early Hampden turnovers to take a 10-5 lead on a baseline jumper by Smith midway through the first quarter, but Black nailed a 3-pointer from the corner and Gilpin converted a steal into a three-point play to give the Broncos their first lead at 11-10.
A layup by Ian Nagle gave Bangor a 12-11 edge at the end of the quarter, but a spinning move in the low post and a layup by Ian McIntyre gave Hampden an 18-16 lead en route to a 25-22 halftime advantage.
Gilpin came out quickly to start the third quarter, following in his own miss and then taking a steal in for a layup to make it 29-22.
Another spin move in the lane by Ian McIntyre followed, then Black converted a layup off another Gilpin steal and Conar Moore made 1 of 2 from the line off a fast-break attempt to push Hampden’s advantage to 34-22 less than three minutes into the period.
Smith countered for Bangor with a 3-pointer and a drive, and when freshman Marc Hutchings followed with a short jumper, the Rams were back within 36-29.
Bangor got no closer but Hampden wasn’t able to pull away, either.
“I don’t think we have that killer instinct yet to put people away and that’s something we need to develop,” said Bartlett. “We’ve obviously had it in the past and this group had it last year, but we haven’t shown that yet this year.
“Last year when we got games to 10 we’d win by 20 almost every time, and right now we’re just kind of holding on. If we don’t figure that out shortly we’ll get caught. We easily could have tonight but we made enough plays down the stretch.”