AUGUSTA — Edward Little briefly lost its lead in the third quarter, then clamped down on defense and finished off a 55-44 victory over Windham in a Class AA North boys’ basketball semifinal Tuesday night at the Augusta Civic Center.

“They’ve worked really hard all year on being a good defensive team,” said EL Coach Mike Adams. “You’ve got to win in the quarter court. You’ve got to defend in the quarter court and score in the quarter court.”

No. 2 Edward Little (18-1) advances to the regional final Friday night against top-seeded Portland. Portland beat Edward Little 70-43 in the regional semifinals last season.

Windham, which did not make the playoffs in 2016, finishes with a 13-7 record.

When Mike Gilman hit a 27-foot 3-pointer to give Windham a 33-32 lead in the third quarter, Edward Little’s advancement was in question.

Samatar Iman (13 points) answered with his own 3, and over the next 10 minutes Edward Little outscored the Eagles 17-6.

“We were very careless with the basketball,” said Windham Coach Chad Pulkkinen. “We had 16 turnovers, and against a good team in a playoff game, especially a semifinal in our division, it’s going to be very hard to win.”

Edward Little opened a 49-39 lead with 1:09 remaining when Tyler Morin (10 points) made both free throws after an intentional foul.

Those free throws were preceded by two technical foul shots made by Jarod Norcross-Plourde (16 points) after Windham’s Nazari Henderson was whistled for bouncing the ball moderately hard following a Windham turnover.

“That’s a tough call to make, but I’m not a ref so it’s not my call,” Pulkkinen said. “But it definitely changed momentum.”

Nick Curtis scored 14 points for Windham, which struggled to find offense for much of the game after a good first quarter. Gilman finished with 11 points.

The game was tied 12-12 after a first quarter that saw both teams make two 3-pointers and display a willingness to push the pace.

Edward Little forged ahead in the second quarter. While the Eagles were turnover-prone, EL’s Darby Shea found the range.

Shea, held scoreless when Windham handed Edward Little its only loss (60-58 in Windham), drained three 3-pointers in about two minutes, each from well behind the arc. Norcross-Plourde worked inside for another six points, helping EL take a 29-21 halftime lead.

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