Deering senior Raffaele Salamone goes up in traffic for two of his game-high 28 points during the Rams’ 62-54 home loss to Edward Little Thursday night.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.


Edward Little 62 Deering 54

EL- 13 12 19 18- 62
D- 9 9 17 19- 54

EL- Norcoss-Plourde 9-2-22, Iman 6-2-16, Shea 6-0-15, Maiwen 3-0-6, Jipson 0-2-2, Morin 0-1-1

D- Salamone 12-4-28, Butera 3-0-6, Chikuta 3-0-6, Nguany 1-4-6, Dutton 2-0-4, Kaserman 1-0-2, Onek 1-0-2

EL (7) Shea 3, Iman, Norcoss-Plourde 2

EL- 14
D- 22

Free throws
EL: 7-11
D: 8-13

PORTLAND—The Edward Little boys’ basketball team has arrived as a top Class AA North contender and the Deering Rams found that out the hard way Thursday evening, as they chased the Red Eddies most of the evening to no avail.

In a key early season showdown, Edward Little led almost the whole way and made the clutch plays in the second half to earn pivotal Heal Points.

The Rams were down, 9-2, before they knew what hit them, then crept back within four points, 13-9, after one period thanks to the dominance of senior Raffaele Salamone, who was the best player on the floor.

Deering did score the first five points of the second quarter to lead for the only time, but it only lasted 24 seconds as consecutive 3-pointers from Red Eddies junior Darby Shea put the visitors ahead to stay.

Edward Little held a 25-18 lead at halftime and went up by as many as 11 points in the third period, but the Rams battled back within three before Shea hit another clutch 3 and the Red Eddies took a 44-35 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.

There, Deering tried to come back and steal the game, but Edward Little wouldn’t buckle and it went on to a 62-54 triumph.

The Red Eddies got 22 points from senior Jarod Norcoss-Plourde, 16 from senior Samatar Iman and 15 from Shea as they improved to 3-0 and dropped the Rams, who got 28 points from Salamone, to 2-1 in the process.

“We knew Deering was very good and very athletic and we were worried about how we’d handle their pressure,” said Edward Little coach Mike Adams. “We bent a couple times and almost couldn’t recover. For us to be where we want to be, we have to beat Deering or Portland. To come in here and win in their gym is a great win for us.”

“I’ll take a bad win over a good loss any day,” said Rams coach Todd Wing. “It doesn’t help because they’re a AA opponent, which puts us behind the eight-ball.”  

Litmus test

Edward Little got to the Class AA North semifinals a year ago and lost to eventual state champion Portland. This winter, the Red Eddies are expected to be an even bigger threat to the Bulldogs and after handling Bangor in the opener, 58-42, Edward Little held off Oxford Hills, 54-52, Tuesday night.

Deering, which was also ousted by Portland last winter (70-39 in the regional final) is ready to take the next step this winter and impressed in the early going, opening with wins at Windham (62-41) and at home over Noble (79-33).

Last season, the Rams went to Auburn and beat the Red Eddies, 76-62.

Thursday, Edward Little came to the big city and returned the favor.

The Red Eddies came out strong, getting consecutive baskets from Norcoss-Plourde to grab a quick 4-0 lead.

After Salamone scored on a putback to get Deering on the board, Iman made a layup, then drained a 3-pointer for a 9-2 advantage less than three minutes in.

The Rams then settled down and got back in the game.

After Salamone made a free throw, Iman rattled home a jumper, but senior Machar Nguany made two free throws and Salamone drove for a layup to cut the deficit to 11-7.

After sophomore Wol Maiwen made a layup after a steal for the visitors, Salamone’s putback drew Deering within 13-9 at the end of the first period.

Salamone had seven points in the frame.

The Rams started the second quarter fast, as Salamone made a layup and after Nguany drained a free throw, senior Manny Chikuta set up senior Mason Kaserman for a layup and a 14-13 lead with 6:16 to go in the half.

Undaunted, Edward Little took the lead right back.

Twenty-four seconds later, Shea buried a 3, ending a 4 minute, 42 second drought.

The next time down, with 5:31 remaining before halftime, Shea took a pass from junior Tyler Morin and hit another 3 for a 19-14 lead.

Deering got two points back on a floater from sophomore Ben Onek and Salamone made a layup off an inbounds feed from Onek, but the Red Eddies scored the final six points of the half, as Morin set up Maiwen for a layup, Norcoss-Plourde finished a feed from Maiwen for a basket and inside the final minute, Iman banked home a shot for a 25-18 halftime advantage.

In the first half, Iman had nine points and Norcoss-Plourde and Shea each added six to counter Salamone’s 11. The Rams were hindered by 11 turnovers.

Edward Little quickly opened things up in the third period, as senior C.J. Jipson set up Iman for a layup and after Nguany drove for a layup for the hosts, Norcoss-Plourde made a layup and Morin set up Shea for a fastbreak layup and a 31-20 lead just 56 seconds into the second half.

Salamone countered with two free throws, Salamone converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) and Salamone made a layup after a steal to cut the deficit to four, but Norcoss-Plourde buried a 3 and Shea set up Maiwen for a transition layup and a 36-27 advantage with 4:25 remaining in the quarter.

Again, Deering made a run, but couldn’t quite catch up, as Salamone scored on a putback, Salamone stole the ball and set up senior Jean Claude Butera for a layup and Salamone made a layup to make it 36-33, but after Maiwen blocked a Salamone shot that could have cut the deficit to one, Morin passed to Shea, who drained a momentum-turning 3 and Iman added another to restore a nine-point bulge.

After Rams senior Orey Dutton scored on a putback, Morin set up Shea for a layup and Edward Little took a 44-35 lead to the fourth period.

The Red Eddies took their biggest lead 49 seconds into the final stanza when Norcoss-Plourde hit a 3, but Chikuta scored six quick points to make things interesting.

Chikuta first drove for a layup, then banked home a leaner and added a floater to cut the deficit to 47-41 with 5:17 to go.

After Norcoss-Plourde made a short hook shot, Salamone made a layup, but again Edward Little again rose to the challenge, as Norcoss-Plourde scored on a putback, then stole the ball and added a layup for a 53-43 lead with 3:40 left.

The Rams got a putback from Salamone and another from Dutton and with 1:41 to go, Nguany added a foul shot to make it 53-48, but the Red Eddies twice kept possession with offensive rebounds, then got a pair of foul shots from Jipson for a 55-48 lead with 1:20 remaining.

Butera drove for a layup seven seconds later, but Morin set up Shea for a layup and after a steal from Norcoss-Plourde, Morin made a free throw and Iman added two more for a 60-50 advantage with 41 seconds left.

Deering attempted one final push, as Salamone scored on a putback and Butera added a jumper with 22.8 seconds to play, but at the other end, Norcoss-Plourde slammed the door with two free throws and Edward Little closed out its 62-54 victory.

“We went to Old Dominion in Virginia this summer for a team camp so we could play against a Deering-type athlete,” said Adams. “The guys have been working for this for a long time. We know how to play basketball. We’re smart and athletic and tough. I’m very proud of them.” 

Norcoss-Plourde led the Red Eddies with 22 points. He also had seven rebounds, three steals and a pair of blocked shots.

“Jarod played hard and other guys stepped up,” said Adams. “He was huge for us tonight.”

Iman added 16 points (along with eight boards and two blocks), Shea had 15 and Maiwen six (to go with six rebounds, five blocks and two steals),

“(Wol’s) really exciting to watch,” Adams said. “He’s a great athlete, a great kid. He’s going to be a great basketball player. He makes things happen.”

Jipson finished with two points and Morin had one (to go with 10 assists).

Edward Little held a 30-29 edge in rebounds, overcame 15 turnovers and hit 7 of 11 free throws.

Salamone paced Deering with 28 points and 10 rebounds. He also had five steals and a block.

“There’s no hiding that (Raffaele) is the best big man in the conference,” Wing said. “There’s no disputing that. I have to do a better job of making sure the ball goes to him, because when the ball goes to him, teams have to adjust. He’s the horse we have to ride. He has to touch the ball in the post 20 times, at least.”

Butera, Chikuta and Nguany (eight rebounds) all had six points, Dutton had four and Kaserman and Onek both added two.

The Rams made 8 of 13 free throws and were doomed by 22 turnovers.

“The first half we struggled running our halfcourt offense,” said Wing. “We turned them over, but we didn’t turn that into points. We had to get points in the halfcourt or generate points off defense and we did neither. We can’t be solely reliant on fullcourt pressure. We had to press all game because we were playing from behind. They killed every single one of our runs. We had a few that just weren’t big enough. We had to limit them to one shot and we didn’t do a good job for that. 

“We’ve accomplished nothing. We need to be an ego-free team. If we want to climb to the top of the mountain, we have to put ego aside. We have to get better in every aspect.”

Travel time

Edward Little returns to action Saturday at Brunswick. Next week brings visits from Cheverus and Portland.

“I think people are giving us too much credit,” Adams said. “I know there are really good teams out there. Deering and Portland are still the top teams in AA North. We hope to be somewhere in there and we’ll keep doing what we do. 

Saturday, the Rams visit Sanford. They then go to Lewiston and Gorham to wrap up the 2016 portion of the schedule.

“We’ll either sink or swim,” Wing said. “We’ll see how these guys do with the water coming in.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Edward Little sophomore Wol Maiwen blocks the shot of Deering senior Machar Nguany.

Deering freshman Darryl Germain goes up for a shot.

Deering sophomore Ben Onek goes up for a shot as Edward Little senior Jarod Norcoss-Plourde defends.

Deering senior Mason Kaserman drives past Edward Little sophomore Wol Maiwen.

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