Red Eddies step it up, stay perfect

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SOUTH PARIS – The Oxford Hills Vikings have been short-handed for the past three weeks, yet playing some of their best basketball of the season.

After Tuesday night’s nail-biter with the scrappy, upset-minded Vikings, the Edward Little Red Eddies might eventually look back at how being undermanned for less than a quarter made them a more complete team.

The Eddies trailed by four points when star senior Troy Barnies fouled out early in the fourth quarter, yet still managed to keep their record spotless with a come-from-behind 47-43 win.

Kyle Philbrook scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, seven of those after Barnies was disqualified with 5:19 left on a controversial call in the rebounding action at EL’s end of the floor. The Eddies also got some big hoops from Eric Prue, Travis Barnies and Cam Leary down the stretch.

“I had confidence, especially after seeing the kids’ reaction when Troy fouled out,” said EL coach Mike Adams. “Troy said ‘You can do this without me,’ and they stepped up and they believed they could.”

Barnies, who entered the game 26 points shy of 1,000 for his career, finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Ben Goodall led the Vikings with 12 points, while Joshua Childs added 12 and Brandon Moffett 11.

Leading 40-36, the Vikings (5-9) were awarded two free throws as a result of Barnies’ fifth foul, but missed both. Eight seconds later, Prue nailed a 3-pointer to pull the Eddies within one for the first time since the second quarter.

“That changed our momentum,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “The momentum was ours and Troy was out, and then we miss two and they score and now the momentum’s all their way.”

A free throw by Childs made it a two-point game again, but the Eddies (12-0) tied it with 2:22 left when Prue found Philbrook on a backdoor cut for a lay-up. Moffett immediately responded with a bucket that gave the Vikings their last lead. EL tied it again on a putback by Travis Barnies (eight points, six rebounds) with just under two minutes left, then took the lead when Mustaf Sharif assisted on a Leary hoop with 1:30 left.

Philbrook added a lay-up for insurance, and two turnovers and a pair of missed 3-pointers in the final minute kept the Vikings from coming any closer.

“We just did a better job running our offense (down the stretch),” Adams said. “I think we’re falling into that trap of maybe watching Troy sometimes in the halfcourt, and he’s falling into a trap of trying to do too much.”

The Vikings, who nearly upset the Eddies at home last year, have been playing without two starters and a key reserve this month after the trio was suspended for violating team rules. They hung tight through the first eight minutes, then got big second quarters from Childs (nine points) and Goodall (eight points) to go on a 14-2 run. They also held the Eddies to just one field goal in the period, and Goodall’s 3-pointer with one second left gave the Vikes a 28-18 lead at the half.

“Defensively, I thought that we were able to pack it in just enough to have people available to help with Barnies (who had just three points in the first half),” Graffam said. “I thought we got in the right position a lot and we were able to put just enough pressure on their guards. We’re fairly quick so that they couldn’t get wide-open 3s until late in the game.”

“We just got ourselves in so much trouble so many times in the first half,” Adams said. “We played poor defense and Goodall and Childs were just going off. We’ve told the guys that for the next seven games everybody is going to shoot the best that they can shoot against us, and in the first half, they were lights out.”

Dan Millett’s hoop to start the second half made it a 12-point game before Troy Barnies went on a personal 9-0 run to get the Eddies back within striking distance.

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