AUGUSTA — Kaleb Main’s alarm went off early Monday morning, even though it was a couple of hours after he’d rolled out of bed.
When Jordon Holmes knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the early stages of Edward Little’s rescheduled Eastern A quarterfinal with Messalonskee (8:30 a.m. start time), it was a wake-up call for Main and the Eddies, who had seen Holmes torch them for 22 points in an 11-point loss on Dec. 19.
“Obviously it was a struggle early in the game when he made the two fadeaway 3s to start,” Main said. “But my coach told me to play more uptight on him.”
Main made it his mission to make Holmes uptight, and he succeeded, outplaying Messalonskee’s all-conference guard on both ends to send No. 5 Edward Little to its seventh consecutive regional semifinal with a 68-57 win over No. 4 Messalonskee at the Augusta Civic Center.
The Red Eddies (12-7) will face undefeated defending state champion Hampden Academy, the No. 1 seed, in the semifinals on Wednesday night. Both games were postponed Saturday due to a snow storm Saturday.
Main finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds (five offensive) and two steals, Perhaps more importantly, he held Holmes without a field goal for more than 17 minutes after the two early bombs. Holmes scored seven in the fourth quarter (five from the free throw line) to finish with 15 points.
“Kaleb Main guarded him full-court and tried to deny him as much as possible,” EL coach Mike Adams said. “We thought we’d have to switch up at some point, but he was all-conference defensively. He’s just a tough kid. He was the difference in the game.”
Andrew Middleton also came up big for the Eddies with 20 points, despite being plagued by foul trouble the first three quarters. Main and Elijah Roe (12 points, six rebounds) helped fill the scoring and rebounding void whenever Middleton had to go to the bench.
“When Andrew comes out and plays like that he can be a difference-maker,” Adams said. “When he comes out hitting jump shots, that makes teams have to play us.”
Middleton, a transfer from Leavitt who had never played at the ACC before, matched one of Holmes’ early 3s and also had a steal and layup as the Eddies jumped out to a 10-3 lead.
“I was a little worried because I was struggling shooting during warmups, so I was going to take it to the hole'” Middleton said. “But I ended up shooting it pretty good. It felt good to play here.”
Middleton’s foul woes resulted from having to guard, or at least help out on, 6-foot-7 Eagles center Nick Mayo (23 points, 10 rebounds). He went to the bench with his second foul with the Eddies up 12-7.
The game was tied 16-16 when he returned in the middle of the second quarter. He quickly hit a jumper to spark an 11-2 run that included Main’s steal and long pass to Luke Sterling (six points, four rebounds, five assists) for a layup and Main’s three-point play off an inbounds pass by Sterling.
“Our mindsets were on right so we were just focused. (The early start) was hard, but our practice makes us wake up early for practice, so we were a little bit used to it,” Main said.
Messalonskee (13-6) never really threatened in the second half. EL led by as many as 15 and never any less than nine.
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