BOX SCORE

Edward Little 56 Deering 50

EL- 15 12 15 14- 56
D- 8 9 13 20- 50

EL- Shea 6-3-15, Creaser 7-0-14, Brown 3-2-8, Nichols 3-0-8, Yorke 3-1-7, Milks 1-1-3, Luizzo 0-1-1

D- Morrione 4-2-12, Germain 4-0-11, Houssein 4-0-10, Semuhoza 4-0-9, Kamalandua 2-1-5, Langella 1-0-3

3-pointers:
EL (2) Nichols 2
D (9) Germain 3, Houssein, Morrione 2, Langella, Semuhoza 1

Turnovers:
EL- 13
D- 16

FTs
EL: 8-12
D: 3-9

PORTLAND—Deering’s boys’ basketball team suffered a slow start, but almost came all the way back in a late-season home showdown versus Edward Little Tuesday evening.

The Red Eddies, behind the inside dominance of sophomore center John Shea, held a 15-8 lead after one quarter, then extended it to 23-8 early in the second period.

The Rams drew back within six before a pair of baskets from senior Austin Brown made it 27-17 Edward Little at halftime.

On four different occasions in the third quarter, Deering got as close as seven, but the final five points of the frame went to the Red Eddies, capped by a layup after a steal from senior Cam Yorke, and they took a 42-30 advantage to the final stanza

There, the Rams went down 16 early, but made one final, furious comeback bid and even drew within four, 54-50, on a 3-point shot from sophomore Nick Langella, but two Shea free throws iced it and Edward Little prevailed by a 56-50 margin.

Shea led all scorers with 15 points as the Red Eddies won their fourth game in a row, improved to 13-2 and in the process, dropped Deering to 12-4.

“The effort and the heart were there,” said Rams’ coach Todd Wing. “You hate a moral victory, but the guys didn’t quit. We have to put the effort together continuously, especially against a team like Edward Little, who will make you pay, and they did.”

Take two

On Jan. 11, Edward Little had too much for Deering, as the Red Eddies got 25 points from senior Max Creaser and pulled away in the second half for a 71-59 victory.

That win was just part of a strong campaign for the Red Eddies, who won their opener, 58-44, at home over Windham, then lost at Thornton Academy, 66-49. Edward Little bounced back to defeat visiting Cheverus (73-64), visiting Gorham (66-55), host Portland (55-48), visiting Bangor, the defending Class AA state champion (56-42), visiting Lewiston (72-47), host Bonny Eagle (63-47) and visiting Leavitt (73-50), then defeated visiting Deering. After falling, 57-47 at defending Class AA champion Bangor two days later, the Red Eddies downed visiting Oxford Hills (51-41), won at Oxford Hills (61-48) and defeated host Windham (55-35).

The Rams, meanwhile, started by winning at Oxford Hills, 84-60, then lost at South Portland, 74-62. After a 74-51 home win over Lewiston, the Rams downed host Windham, 60-43, rallied past visiting Bonny Eagle, the defending Class AA South champions, 65-61, beat visiting Cheverus (75-49), held on for a 50-49 win at Portland, their first over the Bulldogs at the Expo since 2006, then enjoyed home victories over Scarborough (61-47) and Oxford Hills (72-65). After a 71-59 setback at Edward Little, Deering edged host Sanford in overtime (53-51) and defeated visiting Windham (50-29) and host Lewiston (71-61). Last week, the Rams lost a “home” game to Bangor (65-44), then handled host Cheverus (58-39).

Tuesday, in front of a large and vocal crowd, Deering sought its first win over Edward Little since Dec. 11, 2015 (76-62 in Auburn), but the Red Eddies did just enough to hold on and make it five in a row in the series.

After a 24-second pregame “moment of silence” in memory of Kobe Bryant and the other victims of Sunday’s helicopter crash in California, Edward Little took a first quarter lead and never looked back.

Just 37 seconds in, Shea hinted at a big game to come when his leaner rattled in. Senior Askar Houssein set up classmate Max Morrione for a layup on the fastbreak to tie the score, but Creaser countered with a baseline jump shot.

With 4:31 left in the opening stanza, two Morrione free throws tied the game for the final time, but 16 seconds later, Shea was fouled while making a layup, then added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point lead and a lead the Red Eddies wouldn’t relinquish.

A layup from sophomore Daniel Milks (set up by Yorke) and a Creaser layup (set up by Milks) extended the lead to 11-4.

After senior Jesse Kamalandua got a point back at the line for the Rams, Yorke drove for a layup.

In the final minute, senior Darryl Germain made a 3-pointer for Deering, but just before the horn, Shea scored on a putback, conjuring up memories of Edward Little scoring nine points at the buzzer in the teams’ first meeting, and after eight minutes, the visitors were on top, 15-8.

“Our guys have done a great job of using John all year long,” said Red Eddies’ coach Mike Adams. “We’re much more than just him, but he makes us better. He does a great job finding the open man. Great players make their team better.”

The Red Eddies were just getting started as the first 90 seconds of the second period saw them add eight more points and threaten to run away and hide.

After Creaser hit a baseline jumper, Shea scored on a putback, Shea hit a jump shot and Yorke made a layup after a steal for a 23-8 advantage.

The Rams would then settle down and score nine consecutive points of their own to get back in it.

After a rousing Kamalandua blocked shot on the defensive end, Deering scored its first points in 3-minutes, 46-seconds, as Houssein found Morrione for a fastbreak layup.

Houssein then set up junior Mpore Semuhoza for a layup with a no-look pass, Houssein drained a long 3-pointer and with 3:15 left in the half, Houssein made a nice start-and-stop move, then banked home a shot to cut the deficit to 23-17.

Deering wouldn’t score the rest of the half, however, and after Brown scored on a putback, senior Jamaine Luizzo kept possession with an offensive rebound, then set up Brown for a layup and a 27-17 halftime advantage.

Shea set the tone with 11 points and six rebounds in the first half, while Creaser added six points.

The second half would see the Rams try to rally, but each time, the Red Eddies answered.

Just nine seconds into the third quarter, Morrione took a no-look pass from Houssein and made a 3-pointer.

After Creaser got a jumper to bounce home, Kamalandua got two offensive rebounds before finishing.

Creaser and Kamalandua then traded layups before junior reserve R.J. Nichols hit a clutch 3 for Edward Little making it a 10-point game, 34-24.

Houssein then went behind the back with a pass to set up Semuhoza for a layup, but Nichols countered with a 3 to push the lead to 11.

After Semuhoza hit a jumper, Germain made a runner in the lane to make it 37-30, but again, the Red Eddies finished a quarter strong, getting a leaner from Nichols to bounce in, a free throw from Luizzo and a layup after a steal from Yorke to take a 12-point advantage to the fourth period.

There, Edward Little did just enough to hold on and prevail.

When Shea scored on a leaner and Creaser added a jumper to start the fourth quarter, the Red Eddies had a seemingly safe 46-30 lead, but the Rams got eight quick points to cut their deficit in half.

First, Morrione converted a three-point play. Then, Houssein drove for a layup before Semuhoza took a pass from Morrione and made a 3-pointer from the corner with 4:32 to go, pulling Deering within eight, 46-38.

Edward Little answered with a jumper from Creaser, a driving layup from Brown and a free throw from Milks to go up by 13, but Germain answered with consecutive 3-pointers and with 39.1 seconds left, Houssein made a 3-pointer from well beyond NBA range to pull the Rams within just four, 51-47.

The Red Eddies then put it away, as Brown calmly sank two free throws with 32.8 seconds to go.

After Houssein missed a 3 for Deering, Yorke got the rebound and was fouled and made one of two attempts with 24.9 seconds to play for a seven-point advantage.

With 10.1 seconds showing, the Rams entertained one final, last-ditch comeback hope when Langella sank a 3, but Edward Little got the ball in to Shea, who made both foul shots with 8.3 seconds remaining and the Red Eddies held on for the 56-50 win.

“(Deering’s) one of the top teams,” Adams said. “It’s tough to play here. They have great athletes and they shot the ball well in the fourth quarter. We didn’t do a good job defending the 3-point line or holding on to the basketball, but we pulled it out. It’s a cliche, but it’s a game of runs. We had to match their runs and we had the last one.”

Shea had a game-high 15 points, as well as eight rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.

Creaser added 14 points, Brown (seven rebounds, three assists) and Nichols each contributed eight points, Yorke (six rebounds, five assists, three steals) had seven, while Milks finished with three and Luizzo had one.

“Jamaine came in and made things happen defensively and R.J. went in and made big shots,” Adams said. “The key to winning is knowing what you can do and do it well and not trying to do things you don’t do well. The guys have done a great job buying into being the best they can be.”

Edward Little had a 34-33 rebounding advantage, made 8-of-12 free throws and overcame 13 turnovers.

Deering was led by Morrione, who had 12 points before fouling out. Germain added 11 points, Houssein had 10 (to go with eight assists, six rebounds and three steals), Semuhoza nine, Kamalandua five (to go with six rebounds) and Langella three.

The Rams made nine 3-pointers to the Red Eddies’ two, but turned the ball over 16 times and hit just 3-of-9 free throws.

“Those turnovers were momentum killers,” Wing lamented. “It was a game of momentum, a game of runs. We had our run, but they responded well.”

Almost February

Edward Little, which is currently first in the Class AA North Heal Points standings, has three games left, at home versus Portland Thursday and trips to Cheverus Tuesday of next week and Lewiston Feb. 6.

“We have to defend the 3-point line and rebound and win the battle of the paint on offense and defense,” Adams said. “It’ll be a dogfight all the way through.”

Deering (third in Class AA North) has just two contests remaining, at Bangor Friday and at home versus Portland Feb. 6.

“I think Friday night will determine who gets the number two spot,” Wing said. “If we go where we want to go, we’ll have to play Edward Little again.”

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

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