If the Deering boys’ basketball team wants to step up to the next level, Thursday night’s effort against Edward Little was not the right path.

The Rams trailed by seven just three minutes into the game, had 22 team turnovers and lost at home to the Red Eddies, 62-54.

Deering (2-1) finished 17-3 a year ago and reached the Class AA North final. Coach Todd Wing, in his third year, knows the Rams have put up some gaudy numbers, but haven’t brought home any championships.

He made sure to remind his team of that after it grabbed its only lead of the game at 14-13 with two minutes gone in the second quarter.

“I just told guys that in our three years we’ve accomplished nothing,” Wing said. “We need to be an ego-free team. If we want to climb to the top of the mountain we need to put our ego aside. You’ve got to want to win. So we can get better in every aspect of the game.”

But also give the Red Eddies some credit. Edward Little (3-0), which reached last year’s Class AA North semifinal, is much improved all around with many weapons that gave the Rams fits.

Wol Maiwen (8 points, 5 blocks) and Samatar Iman (19 points, 7 rebounds) exhibited their athleticism by keeping the ball alive on the offensive end and affecting shots defensively. Darby Shea had 15 points, including three 3-pointers, while captain Jarod Norcross-Plourde scored his 17 points from all over the court.

“Last year we were (all) Jarod,” Edward Little Coach Mike Adams said “He got the ball every time and he had to score every time. He shot the ball poorly tonight but other guys stepped up.”

Raffaele Salamone, who controlled the inside with 30 points and 10 rebounds, led Deering. Manny Chikuta had seven points and Machar Nguany grabbed eight rebounds. Ben Onek was held to two points in a foul-plagued effort.

Adams said his squad attended a camp at Old Dominion University over the summer so the Red Eddies could see players with talent and athleticism similar to what they will face in opponents like Deering.

It appears to have paid off as every run by the Rams was withstood by Edward Little. The Eddies went on a 12-2 run at the end of the second quarter and start of the third to push their lead to 31-20.

Deering got to within three points (36-33) on a Salamone layup off a cut to the basket. But Shea followed by hitting a 3-pointer from the left corner with 2:10 remaining in the third quarter.

The lead stayed between six and nine points until a drive by Deering’s Jean Claude Butera made the score 55-50 with 1:10 left in the game. Edward Little closed out the game by hitting 5 of 6 free throws.

“We have a lot of fight in us,” said Norcoss-Plourde. “We have really come together this year. Last year we would roll over in the fourth quarter. We’re stepping up to the plate and really coming through.”

“They killed every single one of our runs,” Wing said. “We had a few that just weren’t big enough. They are correctable errors – a box-out here, a close-out there. It’s basic basketball, and we have to be better.”