AUBURN – The Edward Little girls’ basketball team had a pretty good opportunity to punch their ticket to the playoffs Tuesday.

When the Red Eddies lost an earlier close call at Oxford Hills, EL still had some work to do to reach the postseason. So Craig Jipson’s club took a significant step in that direction Thursday with a 51-34 victory over Brunswick.

“We knew we didn’t play bad against Oxford Hills,” said EL guard Allie Forgues. “We played really hard, but we just didn’t get the luck of the draw in the end. That wasn’t going to put us down coming into this game. We knew we had a good chance. (Oxford Hills) was 11-2, and it showed how much we had improved since last time.”

EL had lost to Brunswick 56-51 back in December, but the Red Eddies feel like they’re hitting their stride.

“We came in more confident,” said EL guard Brittney French. “It was like a must-win for us.”

French led EL (4-9) with 18 points while Forgues added 11. Kelsey Nicolas chipped in nine. Brunswick (3-10) got 11 from Claire Baecher.

“I thought we played more relaxed,” said Jipson. “We were more confident. I think we’re just feeling better about ourselves.”

EL had built a pair of eight-point leads in the second and third quarters, but Brunswick battled back each time. Five straight points had the Dragons within 29-26 late in the third quarter before a Forgues 3 made it 32-26 entering the fourth. EL then used an 8-2 run early in the final quarter to open the lead for good.

After hitting its first five shots of the third quarter, Brunswick shot just 4-for-20 the rest of the way.

“I’m just so happy with the way we’re playing defense right now,” said Jipson. “We’ve really worked hard on it. There were times this year where we weren’t sure if we were a full court-to-court defensive team. I’m really happy with our court-to-court defense.”

Though EL had led Brunswick back into the game in the second and third quarter, the Red Eddies finally put the Dragons away. EL hit 13-of-14 free throws in the second half, including 11 straight.

“That’s something we’ve wanted to have all season, get the defensive stop and come down and score” said French, who had eight points in the final quarter “Then stop them again and score.”

A pair of French free throws made it 36-28, but an Emily Pollock jumper got the Dragons within six. EL then ran off six straight. French hit two free throws and scored on a fast break as EL went 5-of-8 from the floor. Kate Dargie put back a rebound. After two baskets by Brunswick, EL ran off nine straight to end the game.

“We looked for each other and passed the ball well,” said Forgues.

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