WINDHAM — Starting fast and keeping Edward Little from playing fast gave the Windham Eagles all the edge they needed Friday.

Windham sprinted out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back, emerging with a 69-54 victory in an intense showdown between the top two-ranked teams in the Class AA North Heal point standings.

Both teams are 4-1.

The Eagles’ dynamic senior backcourt of Nick Curtis and Mike Gilman led the way. Curtis finished with 21 points and 10 assists, while Gilman scored 28 points and played outstanding defense against EL’s leading scorer, senior forward Darby Shea. Shea was held to seven points.

“We know how deadly Shea is,” Windham Coach Chad Pulkkinen said. “Last year, we did the same thing here at home, then let him get free for a couple in the playoffs, and that hurt us.

“Michael takes that challenge. He did a great job stepping up and making (Shea’s) night tough. He did it at both ends for us.”

Junior forward Wol Maiwen picked up much of the scoring slack for the Red Eddies with 31 points off the bench, to go with eight rebounds and four blocks. But he was the only EL player to score in a 10-point third quarter and had all but six of the Red Eddies’ 27 second-half points.

“It was an awful start. You can’t do that against a great team like Windham,” Edward Little Coach Mike Adams said. “We did it against Cheverus and we did it tonight, so hopefully it’s not a pattern. If it is, then we have to do something about it as coaches to fix it. We came out flat. They came out with more energy.”

Windham made 10 of 16 shots in the first quarter, including 4 of 7 3-pointers, and didn’t turn the ball over.

The Eagles scored the first seven points, then extended the lead to 17-4 when Gilman took a pass from Curtis and converted a nifty reverse layup.

Gilman matched EL’s scoring output by himself as the Eagles ended the first quarter with a 24-12 lead.

“I thought tonight we did a good job playing at our pace, not playing at their pace,” Pulkkinen said. “Their pace is extremely fast and chaotic at times, and we don’t play well in that situation. We needed to take care of the ball. We did that in the first quarter and got some good looks.”

The quality and quantity of Windham’s shots declined in the second quarter (5 for 13). An Austin Brown 3-pointer and a Maiwen dunk helped the Eddies pull within 31-24 with 2:17 remaining in the half.

Windham finished the half strong, though, as Nazari Henderson put back his own miss and Curtis drilled his third 3-pointer to make it 40-27 at halftime.

“The kids were excited to play,” Pulkkinen said. “We’re starting to click. We’re starting to play like we’re capable of playing. When we’re moving the ball, we’re unselfish, we’re going to knock down shots.”

EL never got closer than 10 points in the second half, and the lead was a big as 22.

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