AUGUSTA — They felt like they had something to prove.

After a dismal shooting night in Auburn back in early January, the Hampden girls’ basketball team hoped to play the Red Eddies again. It would be a chance to not only present EL a different Bronco team but also show themselves.

“We knew our last game wasn’t an accurate showing of how we’re capable of playing,” said Michaela Stephenson, a senior guard. “So going into this game, we wanted to get redemption and show them what we’re made of.”

The Red Eddies saw a different Hampden team Wednesday in their Eastern A semifinal. The Broncos hit their shots early and then held off EL’s comeback hopes for a 50-47 win.

“Our seniors played like absolute warriors,” said EL coach Craig Jipson. “They played with everything they had. Frankie (Lally) hit some big shots at the end. Miranda (Martin) came up big. (Dawna) Daigle gave us some great minutes.”

Hampden shot just 12-for-58 in the first half in Auburn in the 54-34 loss to EL. The Broncos had 18 turnovers in that half. This time, the Broncos moved the ball effectively and drained the open shots. It made it difficult for Edward Little to keep pace.

Ashlee Arnold led EL (16-4) with 14 points, despite still feeling the effects of the flu that hampered her in the quarterfinal win over Bangor. Lally had 10 while Martin added nine.

“Ashlee was still coughing up a lung,” said Jipson. “The scary part is that she wasn’t herself and she still led us in scoring. Ashlee sat more in the tournament than she has all year. She just wasn’t healthy.”

EL got great efforts off the bench. Kelly Philbrook came in and played well. Kennedy Hubbard provided the fouls late to keep EL close. The Red Eddies just didn’t have the offensive punch to keep up with Hampden’s balance.

Stephenson led the Broncos (18-2) with 13 while Katelyn DeRaps had 11. Whitney Moore and Helene Sherburne added nine and eight points, respectively.

“We just needed to have a half decent shooting night,” said Hampden coach Chad Bradbury. “When we hit some 3’s early on, we knew. They played the 2-3 zone, and if we could hit some shots from the outside and open things up a little, it would give us a chance.”

Hampden started well with a pair of baskets by Stephenson and a 3 by DeRaps, building a 7-2 lead. EL answered that and finished the quarter shooting 5-for-10. The Red Eddies scored 13 straight to take a 15-7 lead into the second.

“Despite being down in the beginning, we still felt like we were right there,” said Stephenson. “We started getting our shots, and we were right back in it.”

Hampden used a 12-1 run in the second to take the lead back. Sherburne hit a pair of 3’s while EL struggled, going 3-for-8 from the floor with five turnovers. The Broncos did a nice job bottling up EL’s shooters and taking away any inside game. Hampden outrebounded EL 17-6 in the first half.

“Defensively, we need to stop their best players and then make sure their other players didn’t get by us so they could kick it,” said Stephenson. “It really was a team effort.”

Hampden had a 27-26 lead at the half and expanded that in the third with six straight while outrebounding EL 7-0 to start the quarter. A basket by Moore and a drive by Stephenson had the lead up to 39-30 before a Martin basket ended the quarter.

EL plugged away in the fourth and trimmed the lead. Hampden struggled from the line, shooting 9-for-22 in the fourth and 11-for-27 in the second half.

“Their free throws kept us in the game,” said Jipson.

Martin closed the gap to two with a baseline jumper with 3:56 left. A Moore free throw and Stephenson steal helped build the lead back to 44-38. After a Lally three-point play, she scored again to make it 44-43 with 1:21 left.

Despite the dismal shooting from the foul line, the Broncos started hitting some when it mattered most. Julia Snyer hit one and Stephenson added another to make it 46-43. Arnold scored on a drive to make it 46-45 with 37 second left. Snyder padded the lead with three free throws in the late seconds, making it 49-45. Kate Sawyer hit a late jumper and had a crack at a tying shot in the closing moments.

“We’ve struggled from the line all season,” said Bradbury. “We haven’t shot great. I don’t know if we shot that bad, but I’m not sure if I want to see what it was. But we had composure. We had seven seniors that just hung with it. We made them when we needed it.”

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