AUGUSTA — Edward Little faced a tough, uphill climb from the beginning of Wednesday’s night’s Eastern Class A quarterfinal as it faced top-seeded and defending Class A champion Hampden Academy.
As if that wasn’t tough enough, the Broncos jumped out to a quick lead as EL stumbled out of the gate, building an early, double-digit lead. They never looked back in a 67-49 win, advancing to Friday’s Eastern Class A final against Oxford Hills.
“We got good looks,” Edward Little coach Mike Adams said. “We missed some shots in the paint. We missed some off some jumps stops. That put us in a tough spot.”
EL (12-8) rallied to start the second half, scoring 11 consecutive points to get within seven before the Broncos finished the quarter on an 11-2 run.
“Not many can do that against them,” Adams said. “We cut it to seven. The boys played hard. They showed some toughness.”
Zach Gilpin led the Broncos with 21 points, while Nick Gilpin finished with 16 and Isaiah Bess chipped in 14.
EL got 17 from Lew Jensen while Ian Mileikis finished with nine. Elijah Roe added seven, and Andrew Middleton was held to just four before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Hampden jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead as EL missed its first eight shots from the floor. The Broncos hit four 3s in the quarter and got three free throws from Bess after he was fouled beyond the arc. That allowed the Broncos to build a 10-point lead six-plus minutes into the game.
Bess had nine points in the first while Zach Gilpin had six as Hampden built a 21-9 lead after one. EL finished the first shooting 3-for-12 while the Broncos were 6-for-10.
“I felt bad,” Adams said. “We had a game plan. We said we wanted to limit their possessions. We didn’t want them to have 60 possession when they shoot over 50 percent from the floor. That doesn’t figure out well for anybody. You try to do something different than what you normally do and that’s the risk that you take.”
EL tried to trim the deficit in the second as some shots began to drop. EL got as close as 11 points twice on a basket by Elijah Roe and a free throw by Lew Jensen.
Both times Hampden extended its lead. After Jensen’s free throw made it 31-20 with 3:55 left, Hampden scored seven straight. Cameron Scott hit a 3. After a free throw by Zach Gilpin, Nick Gilpin had a three-point play for a 38-20 lead. Hampden had the lead up to 40-22 at halftime.
EL made things interesting in the third when it opened with 11 straight points and pulled within seven at 40-33 after a Jensen 3 with 3:35 left. Jensen had seven during that run, while Ian Mileikis and Kaleb Main also found the net.
Hampden answered with two free throws from Nick Gilpin. He then stole the ball and scored. Scott made it six straight for a 46-33 lead. After a Main basket, Zach Gilpin hit a 3 and Matt Martin scored to push the lead back to 51-35 by quarter’s end.
Hampden maintained the lead in the fourth. Zach Gilpin hit a 3 and the Broncos got free throws from Scott and Zach Gilpin. Bess, Martin and Scott also added baskets. Jensen continued to pace the Red Eddies with with five in the fourth.
“They battled and they fought,” Adams said. “It’s a great group and I’m proud to have coach them.”