Red Eddies rally, stay perfect

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AUBURN – They had a tough act to follow even before the game started Friday night.

After a stirring rendition of the National Anthem by 8-year old Mariah Parent, the Edward Little boys’ basketball team had quite a tall order in surpassing the talents of the second-grader from Sherwood Heights Elementary School.

EL greeted the pint-sized singer with congratulatory handshakes and fist bumps before tipoff, but found themselves out of tune early. The Red Eddies fell behind by double digits but found harmony in the second half in a 57-48 come-from-behind victory over Mt. Ararat.

“Giving up the 18 points (in the first quarter) was the big problem,” said EL coach Mike Adams. “We’re a better defensive team than that. We gave them eight points in the second quarter. So we settled down a little bit.”

Despite falling behind 18-8 in the first quarter, the unbeaten Red Eddies (11-0) plucked their way back and were within four at the half. EL then surged past the Eagles in the third quarter and held off Mt. Ararat in the final minutes.

Troy Barnies led EL with 37 points. Cam Leary added seven and Ben Hartnett chipped in six. Mt. Ararat got 18 from Shawn Dostie, but he got into foul trouble in the second half. Andy Pelletier tossed in nine for the Eagles.

“Hopefully, at some point soon, three or four guys that compliment will all step up together with Troy, and we can be really scary offensively,” said Adams.

Mt. Ararat raced out to the early lead, taking advantage of a soft EL defensive effort. The Red Eddies also struggled offensively. They rushed shots and turned the ball over.

“At first, we didn’t come out and play aggressive defensively,” said Barnies. “When we’re not playing aggressive defensively, it kind of lets out on our offense. We weren’t getting it going. When we play soft defensively like we did in the first half, we were allowing points from the other team, and they got the early lead.”

EL chipped away in the second quarter. The defense tightened up, and the Red Eddies worked the ball more effectively offensively. Barnies had 11 of EL’s 14 points in the quarter to cut the lead to 26-22.

Leary helped put EL in the lead for good in the third. He hit three free throws, and Barnies followed with back-to-back hoops for an 11-2 run to end the quarter.

“Cam Leary stepped in and had a huge third quarter for us,” said Adams of Leary’s seven points in the quarter. “That’s been one of our keys this season. Someone different has always stepped up to compliment Troy through the year.”

A Barnies basket to open the third had the lead up to 43-35, but Mt. Ararat got within two three times in the closing minutes. Barnies answered every time. The final time came off an inbounds pass with 1:30 left. He shot over three different defenders.

“All year when we take our time and run what we’re supposed to do, we usually get everything we want,” said Barnies, who had 13 free throws as EL hit 13-of-19 from the line in the second half. “In the first half, we were rushing it more than we usually do. When we slowed it down and took our time, we did a great job.”

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