BOX SCORE

Edward Little 64 Deering 51

D- 8 10 14 19- 51
EL- 12 14 13 25- 64

D- Germain 5-12-22, Anda 5-0-11, Morrione 2-0-5, Semuhoza 1-2-5, Houssein 0-4-4, Kamalandua 1-0-2, Randall 1-0-2

EL- Brown 4-9-20, Nichols 5-0-13, Creaser 3-4-12, Yorke 3-0-8, Milks 1-2-4, Shea 2-0-4, Jipson 1-0-2, Maiwen 0-1-1

3-pointers:
D (3) Anda, Morrione, Semuhoza 1
EL (10) Brown, Nichols 3, Creaser, Yorke 2

Turnovers:
D- 21
EL- 14

FTs
D: 18-19
EL: 16-20

PORTLAND—It’s almost impossible to win when the other team doesn’t miss.

Deering’s boys’ basketball team put forth a solid effort in Saturday’s Class AA North championship game at the Cross Insurance Arena, but every time the third-ranked Rams got close to No. 1 Edward Little, the Red Eddies would bury a long-range shot.

And as a result, Edward Little will play for a Gold Ball, while Deering’s title dreams have been dashed.

Red Eddies’ senior Cam Yorke set the tone just 12 seconds in with a 3-pointer and while Rams’ senior Loki Anda scored four straight points to give Deering’s its only lead, Edward Little went up, 12-8, after one quarter.

In the second period, senior Darryl Germain scored six points to keep the Rams within hailing distance, but the Red Eddies held a 26-18 halftime advantage.

Edward Little senior captain Austin Brown opened the second half with a 3-pointer and the Red Eddies were on top by 11, but Deering battled back and made it a three-point game on an Anda layup before Edward Little took a 39-32 lead to the fourth period.

There, the Rams never got closer than five points and the Red Eddies were able to finally pull away and prevail, 64-51.

Edward Little sank 10 3-pointers (on just 20 attempts) to Deering’s three and got 20 points from Brown, who was named the tournament’s MVP, as it improved to 19-2, ended the Rams’ fine season at 15-6 and advanced to take on Thornton Academy (18-3) in the Class AA state final Saturday at 9 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena.

“It’s definitely sweet,” said Red Eddies’ coach Mike Adams. “It’s a really special group. (The guys) have been together since second or third grade. They’ve been in our summer program and played travel ball together and middle school ball together. That’s unique in any team sport today to see guys enjoy each other’s success.”

Outgunned

Deering came into the season highly-touted and has been one of the finest squads in Class AA all winter.

The Rams lost twice apiece to defending state champion Bangor and Edward Little and also fell at Class AA South top seed South Portland, but they won every other game and after ousting No. 6 Cheverus in the quarterfinals (61-46), Deering upset No. 2 Bangor in Wednesday’s semifinals, 57-51 (see sidebar, above, for links to previous stories).

Edward Little was beaten only by Bangor and Thornton Academy in the regular year and eliminated No. 8 Portland with ease in the quarterfinals (77-22) before holding off upset-minded No. 4 Windham in its semifinal, 49-41.

The Red Eddies took both regular season encounters, 71-59 Jan. 11 in Auburn and 56-50 Jan. 28 in Portland.

The teams had met just once in the playoffs, dating back to 1964, in the 2002 Western A Final, a 75-55 triumph for the Rams.

Saturday, Deering battled hard for 32 minutes, but was eliminated nonetheless.

Edward Little came out hot from 3-point range and grabbed the lead after one quarter.

Just 12 seconds in, Yorke knocked down his first 3.

Deering then grabbed the lead, as Anda scored on a spinner, then went coast-to-coast for a layup, but Yorke drained another 3 for a 6-4 lead.

“Yorke isn’t one of their stronger shooters, but he knocked them down like he was,” said Deering coach Todd Wing .”That’s what really good teams do, guys step up.”

After Anda banked home a shot from a tough angle, a layup from sophomore John Shea with 2:24 left in the quarter put the Red Eddies on top to stay.

Junior R.J. Nichols added a 3 for Edward Little and after Germain made two foul shots, senior Max Creaser hit a free throw to give Edward Little a 12-8 advantage after one quarter.

In the second period, the Red Eddies kept hitting shots, but the Rams didn’t fold.

Creaser started the frame with a putback, but Germain answered with a floater.

After Yorke drove for a left-handed layup, Germain made two foul shots.

Creaser hit a 3-pointer from the corner, but Germain again answered with a leaner.

With 5:22 left in the half, Brown gave Edward Little an eight-point lead, 22-14, with a 3, but senior Mike Randall scored on a putback for Deering and senior Askar Houssein, who had 29 points in the semifinals, scored his first two points at the line.

But just before the half, the Red Eddies got a little more breathing room, as Yorke set up Nichols for a layup and Shea finished a Yorke feed for a layup and a 26-18 advantage.

Yorke paced Edward Little with eight first half points, while Germain had eight for the Rams.

The Red Eddies then took a double-digit lead in the third quarter before Deering battled back.

Brown opened the second half with a 3, but senior Max Morrione answered with a 3-ball for the Rams.

Nichols then drained a 3, but again, the Rams countered, as Germain made two free throws, Germain drove for a bank shot after an Anda blocked shot and Germain made a leaner in the lane with 4:27 left to cut the deficit to 32-27.

Creaser then sank a 3, but Anda countered with a 3 and with 1:23 to go, Anda’s driving layup pulled Deering within a single possession, 35-32.

That’s as close as the Rams would get, however, as senior Storm Jipson scored his only points of the night, a driving bank shot, and Brown added two foul shots to give Edward Little a 39-32 lead heading to the fourth period.

There, the Red Eddies put it away.

Junior Mpore Semuhoza made two free throws to start the final stanza for Deering, but Nichols made another key 3 from the corner and after Houssein made two foul shots, Brown fed senior Dan Milks for a layup off an inbounds set, Brown drained a 3 and with 4:39 to go, Brown converted an old-fashioned three-point play (a layup after a Milks steal off a pass from Creaser and an and-one free throw).

“Austin is one of the best shooters on our team and when he gets into a rhythm, he can get it going,” Adams said. “He’s so unselfish. He stepped up tonight.”

Germain refused to quit and drove for a layup, but at the other end, Nichols did the same.

With 3:37 to play, Semuhoza made a 3, but Brown countered with two free throws.

Germain hit two with 3 minutes left, but Brown made two foul shots, Creaser did the same, then, with 1:20 left, two Brown free throws pushed the lead to 60-43.

After Germain made two foul shots, Creaser answered with one before Morrione scored on a putback.

In the final minute, Milks made two free throws for Edward Little, Germain hit two for Deering and senior Jesse Kamalandua added a putback for the Rams’ final points before a last-second free throw from Red Eddies’ junior Tong Maiwen accounted for the final margin in a 64-51 Edward Little victory.

Brown set the tone for the Red Eddies with 20 points. He also had three assists.

“A lot of that was my teammates getting me open and getting me involved,” Brown said. “I really just focus on defense and they get me involved (in the offense).”

Nichols added 13 points off the bench, Creaser had 12 points (to go with six rebounds and two steals), Yorke eight (as well as four assists and four rebounds), Milks and Shea four apiece, Jipson two and Maiwen one.

Edward Little not only shot 50 percent from beyond the 3-point stripe, it also made 16-of-2o free throws and overcame 14 turnovers.

“After a sub-par defensive performance last time, we stepped up and played lockdown defense tonight,”Adams said. “We expected (Deering would) do the same thing against Bangor against us. Ball movement and player movement got us open looks. If your best shooters shoot most of your shots, good things will happen.”

The Red Eddies still have another game to play and it promises to be memorable.

Edward Little suffered its worst loss of the year Dec. 10, 66-49, at Thornton Academy.

The teams met back in the 2009 Class A state game, a 54-52 Golden Trojans’ triumph in Augusta

The Red Eddies hope to turn the tables this time.

“We’re going to have to play the best we’ve played all season,” Adams said. “We lost to them by double-digits earlier this season. We’re going to do what we do. We’ll prepare and go out and hopefully play the best we can.”

Denied

Deering got a game-high 22 points from Germain in his swan song, while Anda bowed out with 11 points and five rebounds.

Morrione added five points and six rebounds, Semuhoza had five points and six boards, Kamalandua had two points and Randall finished with two points and five rebounds.

Houssein was held to four points, which was part of a concerted defensive effort by the Red Eddies, with Brown front and center, to hold the Rams’ most prolific scorer at bay.

“Get a hand up, stay close to him and try to keep him in front,” Brown said, of his game plan for guarding Houssein. “I mean, he’s the real deal and really quick, so it’s tough.”

“To hold Askar to four points was great,” Adams said. “(Austin) guarded him 28 of the 32 minutes and did a great job against a great player.”

“Sometimes it rains and some times, you have a drought,” Wing said. “Askar cares deeply about the game and his teammates. He gave it all he had. It just didn’t fall.”

Deering had a 33-22 advantage on the glass and made 18-of-19 free throws, but turned the ball over 21 times.

“We watched an immense amount of film on Edward Little and our decision was to try to disrupt their offensive flow,” said Wing. “We did that for the better of three quarters, but we just didn’t have enough offense to back it. We rolled with what got us here. Our triangle-and-two did pretty well against Bangor and we thought we’d disrupt Edward Little. We trusted in our defense. We allowed just 26 points in the first half. We made things difficult. We didn’t let Shea get going down low. There was a time in the fourth quarter where we had to come out of it and that’s where they kind of picked us apart. Mike’s a good coach and we knew they’d be ready for it and they got a couple easy buckets on the back side.”

Deering will be hard-hit by graduation, as Anda, Germain, Houssein, Kamalandua, Morrione and Randall all depart.

“Two years ago, I really invested in this senior group,” Wing said. “They’ve used disappointments at ends of seasons as motivation. Darryl’s jump shot improved immensely. Jesse went from being raw to someone you can put in a game. Max was a reliable shooter. They improved and their work showed.

“I said to the returning guys in the locker room to follow the seniors’ lead.”

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

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