AUGUSTA — In a game loaded with well-known players, it was unheralded Portland sophomore Simon Chadbourne who stepped to the forefront Friday night in the Class AA North boys’ basketball final at the Augusta Civic Center.

A slender reserve, Chadbourne made his first four 3-point attempts, including two in the third quarter when top-ranked Portland pushed a one-point lead to 11 en route to a 66-53 win against No. 2 Edward Little.

“Tonight he made them and all the credit goes to him. He shot and he made them,” said Portland Coach Joe Russo. “Simon got us going. Simon got us in the game. Simon gave us confidence and everybody fed off Simon.”

Defending state champion Portland (18-2) advances to the state final at 9 p.m. next Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center against South Portland (17-3). It will be a rematch of last year’s first Class AA final, won by Portland in double overtime.

Portland and South Portland split during the regular season, with Portland winning the season opener 61-54 at South Portland, and the Red Riots taking the rematch in the penultimate game of the season at the Expo, 74-69.

“Match made in heaven,” Russo said. “I think you couldn’t ask for a better matchup in terms of excitement.”

Chadbourne finished 4 of 4 from the floor for 12 points. Charlie Lyall added 11 points. Griffin Foley led Portland scorers with 14 points, and junior point guard Terion Moss had eight points and was named the regional MVP.

Chadbourne’s fourth 3-pointer was a third-quarter buzzer beater, coming shortly after drawing an offensive foul on Edward Little’s C.J. Jipson, who specializes in doing that to other players.

“I kind of just get left open, and when I’m open I have to hit my shots, and that’s kind of what I did tonight,” Chadbourne said. “They focus on Terion, Griffin and Charlie, and I’m just wide open and they find me.”

“We know about Simon. Simon’s our secret little weapon. We know he can shoot,” said Lyall, Portland’s senior center. “Teams don’t cover him. He’s skinny. He’s not super tall. But he can shoot.”

Lyall scored all of his points in the second half, with three baskets coming after offensive rebounds. He controlled the paint along with Clay Hardy (seven points).

“I think I play my best basketball in the playoffs,” Lyall said. “I feel like this is when I come alive and I was angry. This was not going to be my last game, was pretty much what was going through my head.”

Lyall’s signature play was at the defensive end, when he blocked successive shots to ignite a fast break converted by Foley that finished a quick 7-0 run for a 51-36 lead with 5:52 remaining.

Moss started the run with a three-point play in transition and Hardy scored on a fast break with an assist from Moss.

“In practice we’re running at 94 feet, and we’re taught to just keep pushing it and pushing it and taking it right to (the basket),” Hardy said. “We play fast.”

Edward Little (18-2), which beat Portland 76-70 in the regular season, didn’t get closer than 12 the rest of the way.

“They scored but they earned every basket,” Russo said. “We played great individual and team defense.”

The first half was a hard-fought, back-and-forth contest. Edward Little got the early jump behind Samatar Iman (21 points), a quick 6-1 guard. Portland looked in a bit of trouble down 13-7 with Moss on the bench.

The Bulldogs responded with three straight 3s to close the quarter, the first by Foley and then two straight from Chadbourne to take a 16-13 lead. Chadbourne’s second 3-pointer was a buzzer-beater after Pedro Fonseca pushed the ball up the court and dished it off to the trailing shooter.

Portland held a 24-23 lead at halftime as both team’s defenses locked down on the top scoring threats. For Portland’s defense, Foley guarded 3-point specialist Darby Shea (seven points), Fonseca slowed Iman, and Hardy kept Jarod Norcross Plourde (12 points) in check.

“We were just keying in on defense, making sure we watched the backdoor cuts because we know they like to do that a lot,” Hardy said. “My goal was to lock Plourde up and to limit him to under 10 because he’s a great offensive player. He’s big for them on the boards.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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