Press HeraldBoys’ basketball: Edward Little pulls away to reach state final
Wol Maiwen scores 22 points as the Eddies beat Windham to win the regional title for the first time since 2010.
BY STEVE CRAIGSTAFF WRITER
Edward Little finally pulled away from a gritty Windham team Friday night and won the Class AA North boys’ basketball title 50-35 at the Cross Insurance Arena.
Windham was looking for its second straight upset, but after knocking off two-time champion Portland, the big shots ended one quarter too soon.
Mike Gilman – who scored the winning basket against Portland – drained a step-back 3-pointer off the dribble to make it 32-32 at the end of the third quarter.
Windham made only one more shot.
Edward Little outscored the Eagles 18-3 in the fourth quarter. Ibn Khalid and then Wol Maiwen took over offensively, and Tyler Morin came up with consecutive key steals to avert fast-break layup chances for Windham.
“Our team and our players, we’re tough guys,” said Maiwen. “I just knew that sometimes I had to step up and make a couple of plays. I’d say our whole team is one of the best defensive teams and Tyler Morin making plays like that is just phenomenal.”
Second-seeded Edward Little (17-4) will appear in its first state final since 2010 when it takes on Scarborough (17-4) at 9 p.m., March 2 in Portland. Edward Little’s last state title came in 1946.
The Eddies lost in the state final in 2009 and 2010, with the 2010 championship eventually vacated by Cheverus because it was ruled that the Stags’ star, Indiana Faithfull, was ineligible.
“Hopefully we can get one more win,” said Mike Adams, in his 18th season as the Eddies’ coach. “We’ve been in two since I’ve been at (Edward Little). I know what it feels like to lose that game. We want to enjoy this, and they should, but we’re not done.”
Fourth-ranked Windham (15-6), still in search of its first regional championship after setting a school record for wins, was led by Nick Curtis with 16 points. Gilman added 13.
“We had to work really hard to limit what they could do because they’re great players,” Adams said.
The Eagles hung with the considerably larger Eddies for three quarters. Windham center Chris Naylor played on an injured ankle. Key reserve Hunter Coffin (injured) and Dierhow Bol (ineligible), who were part of a regular-season win against Edward Little, didn’t play.
“The season is just a mirror image of these kids. They don’t give up. They fight to the end,” said Windham Coach Chad Pulkkinen.
Maiwen, named the tournament’s outstanding player, finished with 22 points and nine rebounds. Khalid scored 13 points, six in the fourth quarter, after spending most of the game chasing the dangerous Gilman through a maze of ball screens.
Khalid scored five straight early in the fourth to push a one-point lead to 39-33.
Then, in quick succession, Austin Brown blocked a Naylor shot and saved it from going out of bounds, Morin came up with his two swipes by running down plays from behind.
That’s when Maiwen went to work with two inside buckets to push the lead into double digits for the first time, 43-33 with less than three minutes to play.
The Eddies then made 7 of 8 free throws (they were 6 of 14 previously at the line) to cinch the win.
Windham had not shot the ball to its normal standards through the first three quarters, then was 1 of 11 in the fourth.
RED EDDIES’ DAY — EL shuts down Windham to win AA North boys’ title
PORTLAND — Edward Little’s boys’ basketball team didn’t want to be left out of the party the girls’ team has planned for next weekend, so it used its calling-card defense to make its own reservations.
The second-seeded Red Eddies limited No. 4 Windham to three points in the fourth quarter Friday night at Cross Insurance Center to pull away with a 50-35 victory.
It is the Red Eddies’ first regional championship since their second of back-to-back titles in what was then Class A South in 2010.
“We do it all for the alumni, and the family we have, and it’s just a great feeling to be able to go out there and get the ‘W,’” EL junior center Wol Maiwen said.
“I like where we’ve come (defensively),” Edward Little coach Mike Adams said. “We’re sort of Eastern Maine-balling it right now, (playing) halfcourt man and we threw in little triangle-and-two at times just to make (Windham leading scorers Mike) Gilman and (Nick) Curtis work.”
Maiwen led EL with 22 points and nine rebounds and was named the tournament’s MVP. Ibn Khalid chipped in with 13 points.
Curtis led Windham (15-6) with 16 points, and Gilman added 13 points.
Edward Little (17-4) will vie for its first state championship since 1946 against Scarborough, which defeated South Portland 55-43 in the AA South final played later Friday night. The state championship will be played at 9 p.m. on Friday, March 2, at Cross Insurance Arena.
Windham handed visiting EL it first loss of the season, 69-54, on Dec. 22, in their only meeting during the regular season. The game wasn’t even a s close as the final score indicated, as the Eagles roared out to a 14-point first-quarter lead against the flat Red Eddies.
EL entrenched itself defensively from the start Friday, however, and built an 11-8 lead after one quarter.
“We just came out to play today,” Khalid said. “It’s playoffs. You’ve got to come out to play. It’s either you win or go home.”
“We defended better, no question,” Adams said. “… We had to work really hard to limit what (Curtis and Gilman) could do. They’re great players.”
Adams called on Khalid and Tyler Morin, who were the primary defenders on Gilman and Curtis, respectively, to limit them. The Windham guards combined for 49 points in the first meeting, and 44 points in Windham’s semifinal upset of top-seeded Portland.
“(Curtis) is a great player,” Morin said. “He’s very good at attacking and he’s got a hell of a jump shot. I just tried my hardest to not let him get any 3s up and not let him get by me. I mean, every once in a while, he’s going to get by me, but help-side, they were there for me.”
“I had trust in my teammates. I knew that they had my back,” Khalid said. “I was just worrying about not letting (Gilman) catch the ball, and I knew my teammates had my back if they got by me.”
Curtis and Gilman combined to shoot 9-for-31 from the field, including 4-for-19 on 3-pointers.
Edward Little, meanwhile, enjoyed most of its success going inside to Maiwen (10 first-half points) and led 19-15 at halftime.
“We knew they couldn’t guard (Maiwen) down low, so we used him really big,” Khalid said. “We got him the ball every time and we knew he could do it.”
“We’re giving up a lot of size on Wol, and knowing that, our guys tried their best to keep it away from him,” said Windham coach Chad Pulkinnen, whose team was playing for the first regional title in school history. “He’s just an incredible athlete.”
Windham got even colder in the second half (6-for-26), while EL shot a scorching 11-for-18.
“Our kids executed. We just didn’t make shots when we needed to and had some costly turnovers,” Pulkinnen said.
EL led by as much as six in the third quarter, but Gilman drilled a corner 3-pointer at the horn to knot it at 32.
That would be Windham’s final last field goal for over six minutes. The Red Eddies started the fourth with a 13-1 run, sparked by a hoop from Darby Shea (nine points) that put them in front for good.
After an EL turnover, a steal, and a nice save to keep the ball on the Windham baseline, by Morin led to a transition drive by Khalid.
“It’s a play I work on a lot, trying to time going for the steal,” Morin said. “I didn’t know where I was on the baseline at first and I just saved it. It felt good to get that steal. It felt like we got a lot of momentum off of that.”
Back-to-back hoops lifted EL’s lead into double digits with 3:07 left. Windham missed its first seven shots before Curtis’ layup with 1:28 left.
By then, the Red Eddies had the sixth trip to the state championship game in school history sewn up.
“It feels amazing,” Morin said. “I’ve only heard about it, and I’ve seen it when I was a kid, and I wanted it bad. It feels awesome to get it this year.”