“Defense wins championships.” That phrase is all to synonymous in sports, and for good reason.

Strong, sturdy defense will shut down a potent offense, not every time, but the odds will be in the defensive team's favor, and on Tuesday night, Feb. 13, the odds were in Bristol’s favor.

Bristol (15-2) used a strong first half to open a large lead on the Hawks of Hope (13-2), and went on to win easily 45-32, to capture the Busline League middle school small school division boys basketball championship.

Bristiol led 17-8 at the end of the first quarter, 28-12 at halftime and 44-24 after three quarters.

Hope was No. 1 in the North and Bristol No. 2 in the South. The championship game, played in a packed gymnasium in front of a standing room-only crowd, was a makeup from Saturday, Feb. 10.

Click for photos from this game.

Watch video below.

Click for other boys basketball photos from this season.

Team members for Bristol, coached by Kyle Spear, included: Avery Redonnett, Ashton Foster, Gabe Manning, Colin Bradbury, Eben Lord, Austin Brown, Matt Hanna, Levi Farrin, Jake Craig, Myles Wotton, Jakes Masters and Owen Dyer.

Team members for Hope, coached by Peter Fagonde, included: Weston DeWaard, Lincoln Pierce, Eben Fagonde, Zach Strout, Owen Cooper, Max Welt, Ben Tohanczyn, Hunter Fields, Miles Spear, Dominic Robert and Jayden Day.

Masters led the champions with 19 points, while Wotton added eight; Craig, six; Lord, five; Dyer, three; and Bradbury and Farrin, two. Bristol was 7-of-13 (53 percent) from the free-throw line.

For Hope, DeWaard led with 12 points, while Cooper added six; Fagonde, five; Strout, four; Welt, three; and Pierce, two. The Hawks were 4-of-9 (44 percent) from the charity stripe.

The game was evenly-matched to start, as Hope held a 5-3 lead just under two minutes into the game, but Bristol clamped down with vice-grip defense, and also efficient offense, to start to build its lead.

Coach Spear’s squad used a 14-3 run to close the first quarter, which would have been a 14-6 run, if Welt’s halfcourt basket, a 3-pointer, at the buzzer was not waved off with point-one-second remaining on the clock.

Hope continued to have trouble scoring in the second stanza, as it mustered only four points, with two from Fagonde and Cooper, while Bristol scored 11, led by Craig’s six, to hold a commanding halftime cushion.

Bristol's offense continued its torrent pace in the third stanza, as it added 16 points, and outscored Hope by four, to build its lead larger, as the opponents headed into the final frame.

Bristol only netted a single point in the fourth quarter, but the Hawks could only counter with eight points of their own, before the final horn sounded.

In the North playoffs, No. 1 Hope beat No. 4 Islesboro and No. 2 Lincolnville to earn a spot in the championship game.

In the South playoffs, No. 2 Bristol beat No. 7 Bristol ‘B’, No. 3 Nobleboro and No. 1 St. George to earn a berth in the championship game.

The final regular-season standings in the North included: Hope 11-1, Lincolnville 10-2, Vinalhaven 8-2, Islesboro 4-8, Appleton 3-8, Searsport 3-8 and North Haven 0-10. Hope received a first-round playoff bye.

The final regular-season standings in the South included: St. George 13-1, Bristol 12-2, Nobleboro 10-4, Jefferson 9-5, Woolwich 6-8, Camden 4-10, Bristol ‘B’ 2-12 and Wiscasset 0-13.