AUGUSTA — When Windham knocked off Deering in a Class AA North quarterfinal, it gave Edward Little just what it wanted — a chance at revenge.
The Red Eddies got just that with a 55-44 victory over the Eagles in a semifinal matchup at Augusta Civic Center on Tuesday.
Edward Little had just one blemish on its record during the regular season, and that was a close road loss at Windham. So when the No. 6 Eagles beat the No. 3 Rams in the quarterfinals, a rematch with the Red Eddies was set.
“We came and watched the (quarterfinal), and we weren’t really rooting for one team in particular, but it’s really nice that we got to play them because we wanted that chance,” EL senior Jarod Norcross Plourde said.
The tone was set in the opening quarter, with each team trading baskets before heading to the second all square at 12-12. Then Darby Shea helped put the second-seeded Red Eddies (18-1) on top by draining three 3-pointers, including two in the first two minutes as EL went up 20-12 quickly. The Red Eddies’ lead was 29-21 by halftime.
“Obviously, they were hungry for us, and we knew that coming in,” Windham coach Chad Pulkinnen said.
That lead turned into a deficit with 2:30 left in the third, when Windham (13-7) guard Mike Gilman drained a long 3 to put the Eagles up 33-32. Gilman scored eight of his 11 points in the period.
Yet by the end of the quarter, EL was on top again, and Norcross Plourde’s layup with five seconds left made it 41-35.
For the Red Eddies senior, the friendly bounce on the basket was a welcome sight, after previous attempts in the period didn’t get such favorable rolls. That late layup made up for his only two points in the quarter.
“It was a good feeling to see one go in, finally,” Norcross Plourde said. “A couple in the first that rolled in and out, and then I don’t think I could buy one in the third quarter. So it was nice seeing it go in. That helped me from the free-throw line, I think.”
Norcross Plourde made 3 of 4 foul shots in the fourth, and the Red Eddies made 10 of 15 as a team.
“We made our free throws at the end,” EL coach Mike Adams said. “They were doing some trick defenses and not guarding our point guard Tyler, and Tyler stepped into shots and made them.”
Tyler is Tyler Morin, who scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth, including 4 of 5 from the charity stripe.
“Morin ended up hurting us. He hit shots, and tip his cap to him, he hit shots when he needed to,” Pulkinnen said. “It’s pick your poison with those guys, and the poison bit us tonight.”
Windham’s guards helped keep the Eagles close in the second half. After Gilman’s efforts in the third, junior classmate Nick Curtis followed with half of his 14 points in the fourth.
“Nick is arguably one of the best point guards in the state,” Pulkinnen said. “He’s a tough, tough kid. When he’s controlling the game like that, we have a shot and can beat anybody. Nick did what Nick does.”
“They’re a really good team, and they have phenomenal guards. That’s a tough team to beat in a tournament setting because guards win,” Adams said, “Our guards stepped up as well.”
Besides Morin, Samatar Iman scored 13 points for for EL from the guard position, including eight in the third, and CJ Jipson was his usual active self. Jipson even got on the scoreboard with a pair of made free throws in the fourth. Adams lauded the latter two for their defense.
“(Gilman and Curtis) had to work for everything,” Adams said. “(Our guys) have worked hard all year on being a good defensive team.”
The difference between Tuesday’s playoff matchup and the regular-season meeting was on the offensive side, according to Adams.
Norcross Plourde, who Adams called the team’s “rock,” scored a game-high 16 points.