For long, painful stretches Friday night, Edward Little looked like a definitively distant seventh, and the train often appeared to be leaving the rails.
EL never fully recovered from a disastrous start, and drastic differences in rebounding and free-throw proficiency spelled a 56-45 KVAC loss to Bangor.
With the exception of a 32-second window early in the second quarter, Bangor (12-4) never trailed. The Rams clinched a season sweep of the Red Eddies (10-6) after surviving a 36-32 grinder in the first half of the home-and-home series.
“This was like the game up there. People say you only lost by four, but we scored 32 points,” EL coach Mike Adams. “That’s what it was like tonight. (The final margin) was 11 points, right? Against them that’s like 20.”
Bangor notched nine consecutive points to start the game and scored the final six of the first half to take a 25-17 lead into the locker room.
The Rams milked the most out of every possession with their customary crisp ball movement, frequently getting free for open jumpers from the elbows and the baseline. And when Bangor did miss, its 14 offensive boards often led to layups.
Xavier Lewis, a sophomore who didn’t play in the first meeting Dec. 30, led all scorers with 17 points for Bangor.
Senior big men 6-foot-4 Ellis Throckmorton (15 points, six rebounds) and 6-foot-7 Patrick Stewart (14 points, nine boards, four steals) also shone for an offense that has been hit-and-miss.
“The last two games we’ve scored 39 points and lost by a field goal in both games, one in overtime,” Bangor coach Roger Reed said. “It goes to show you what this league is all about. It’s hard to score. It seems like we hit the bonanza tonight.”
Quin Leary paced the Eddies with 14 points. Omar Haji-Hersi scored seven of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and added a team-high 11 rebounds. Ian Therriault turned in eight points and six assists.
EL exchanged runs with Bangor, rallying from the early 9-0 hole to snag a 12-11 lead on Sean Ford’s drive with 6:09 remaining in the second.
Lewis and Robbie Brookings ended two straight Bangor possessions with putbacks to retrieve the lead for good.
Aaron Crenshaw and Leary scored the only two EL field goals of the quarter after the Ford hoop. While the Eddies went scoreless in the final 2:45, baskets by Brookings, Throckmorton and Stewart provided the Rams’ finishing kick.
Neither team exhibited a deep bench, but the Eddies’ increasing need to play a full-court game cost them against the Rams’ half court sensibilities.
“They were really efficient with the ball as they always are. It’s impossible to play catch up, especially when you’re pressing,” Adams said. “In the past, we’ve pressed later in the game to change that tempo, but when you’re pressing the whole game you just can’t catch up.”
Drawing Bangor into the double bonus situation early in the fourth quarter gave EL a glimmer of optimism about closing that gap.
That’s when the free-throw shooting disparity came home to roost. Bangor went 11-for-13 from the line, including 9-of-11 in the final 3:21. EL missed eight of its last 11 and wound up 10-for-19.
“It actually has killed us. We had Hampden beat down there and went 6-for-17 from the foul line in regulation and lost in overtime,” Reed recalled. “We should have won that game by 10 points. The other night against Mt. Blue we were 6-for-12 and lost by a basket in overtime.”
Lewis and Throckmorton were a combined 8-for-8 from the stripe in the fourth.
EL’s record dipped to 2-5 against the six teams ahead of the Eddies in the Heal Point standings. Home games against Oxford Hills and Lewiston conclude the regular season next week.
“The good part is we’re still in the playoffs. We have two big games next week and we could still move up a little bit,” Adams said. “But if we don’t show better than this, it won’t matter who we play.”