AUGUSTA – A good start was imperative for the Lewiston boys’ basketball team Saturday.

Taking on second-seeded Hampden, the Blue Devils knew they had to make a statement right away and shake off any cobwebs from a near decade long tourney drought.

Lewiston did just that in its Eastern Class A semifinal. The Blue Devils jumped out to the early lead and had the KVAC champions playing catch-up. But once the Broncos settled in and caught the Blue Devils, there was no stopping Hampden. Though the Blue Devils hung tough with the Broncos, Hampden opened up the game for a 70-51 quarterfinal win.

“We got off to a good start,” said Lewiston coach Tim Farrar. “Our defense was pretty good early on. We’re not going to hold them down the whole game. They’re a good team.”

Hampden proved it in the second, putting together runs of 8-0 and 11-0 to open a 30-20 lead by the half. Lewiston stayed with the Broncos, but couldn’t get the run it needed to close the gap. The Blue Devils got as close as nine in both the third  and fourth quarters.

“You couldn’t ask for a better effort,” said Farrar. “I can’t ask for better kids. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have the best kids in America. I’m real proud of them for getting here for the first time in nine years. These guys stuck together as a group. They’ll remember this season as a special year because of their effort.”

Hampden was playing without center Fred Knight, who also missed the KVAC game with an injury.  Graham Safford led the Broncos (16-3) with 22 points. Christian McCue added 13 point, while Brian Fickett had 11.

Lewiston (9-10) was led by Shawn Ricker with 10 points and Cody Mosseau with nine. The Blue Devils had 11 different players score, including Sheldon Jones with seven and Corbin Hyde with six.

“I’m real proud of how the kids played today,” said Farrar. “They’re one of the better teams we’ve played, and we didn’t back down. We played 32 minutes of our hardest basketball of the season.”

Lewiston opened the game with five straight points. Free throws and a 3-pointer by Hyde made it 5-0. After Hampden tied it, Lewiston finished the quarter with five straight points for a 12-7 lead. Luke Cote had a layup and Mosseau followed with a three-point play.

Hampden shot just 2-for-11 in the first quarter and struggled to get on track.

“You’re apt to start out a little bit slow in the tournament,” said Hampden coach Russ Bartlett, whose team advances to Wednesday’s semifinal against Edward Little. “Kids are going to be nervous. We had more experience than they did, but they were a little more ready to play than we were. They adjusted quickly. They made the hustle plays in the first quarter.”

Hampden changed that in the second. After Steven Patrie scored to make it 14-7, Hampden scored the next eight points. The Broncos started hitting some shots while Lewiston struggled to keep up the offensive production it had in the opening quarter.

“Fifty-one points is about what we’re going to score,” said Farrar, whose team shot 4-for-14 in the first two quarters. “We couldn’t get the stops, and we hit the doldrums offensively a little in the second quarter.”

The 8-0 run put Hampden ahead 15-14. Lewiston answered with a Ricker jumper with 4:20 left, but the Broncos countered with 11 straight. Matt Meo hit a 3 and McCue hit four from the line as Lewiston’s fouls began piling up.

“Christian only had one or two baskets the whole game, but he had (nine) foul shots,” said Bartlett.

Hampden had the lead at 30-20 at the half. Safford had nine points in the first half and then added eight more in the third.

“Safford is a special player,” said Farrar. “I think he could take over any time he wanted, but he could also make plays for other people.”

Hampden got the lead up to as many as 17, but Lewiston battled back, getting within nine points late in the third before Hampden pushed it back to 15. Lewiston scored six straight in the fourth to make it 51-42, but Hampden countered with a 9-2 run.

“We settled in a bit in the second quarter,” said Bartlett. “We obviously had a good offensive quarter. It got us rejuvenated and to us started.”

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