AUBURN – They’re playing defense, they’re taking care of the ball, they’ve got one of the to go-to-guys in the KVAC and they know how to get him the ball.

No wonder Edward Little is one of the hottest teams around right now.

The Red Eddies won their ninth in a row Friday night, 61-51, holding off a pesky Leavitt team that had beaten them earlier in the season. Troy Barnies scored EL’s first 13 points of the fourth quarter, then got a little help in the final minute before putting the cherry on the sundae with an emphatic jam.

The 6-foot-6 junior finished with a game-high 31 points, along with nine rebounds and five steals.

“My teammates set really good screens. They’re probably the best screeners in the league,” Barnies said. “All of the points that I’ve gotten this season I haven’t gotten by myself. It’s my teammates setting me up.”

His teammates set him up for the first nine points of the fourth quarter as EL (12-4) inflated a five-point lead to double digits. They fed him inside for back-to-back three-point plays that Barnies himself isn’t sure he would have been able to finish if not for the bulking up he did during the summer.

“Over the summer I did a lot of weight-lifting. Maybe those two would have been blocked (last year),” Barnies said.

“It’s a testament to Troy. He was in the weight room as soon as our season ended last year and he lifted every single day,” EL coach Mike Adams said. “He’s never going to be this big muscle-bound guy, but he’s strong. It’s also a huge testament to our kids, who do a great job of finding him.”

The Eddies led by as much as 14 early in the fourth, but the Hornets (3-13), who are on the playoff bubble, battled back to within five points when Eric Berry nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:17 left.

Those were their last points of the game, however, and Kyle Giguerre scored the first non-Barnies points for EL on a lay-up with under a minute to go to ice it.

“We had a couple of turnovers that were costly and we gave them so free throw opportunities. The plus-ones didn’t help,” said Leavitt coach Mike Remillard. “They’re hot right now. They’re playing well.”

The Hornets didn’t get to the free throw line once all night, while the Eddies took advantage of their opportunities (10-for-13). EL also had only six turnovers, compared to Leavitt’s 16.

“I thought we rebounded the ball much, much better than we have the last couple of games, and on a couple of stretches, we played some great defense, and that’s what we’ve been striving for all year,” Adams said.

EL struggled off the opening tip, missing its first seven shots. The Hornets, meanwhile, dominated the boards and got points from all five of their starters in the first quarter and led 14-7 a minute into the second.

“The kids get up for EL,” said Remillard, whose team had also beaten EL on its home floor last year. “It’s tough to beat a team again after beating them the previous two times. Did we resign to that? No, because I’m proud of my boys for showing the tenacity and guts we’ve not had for a great part of the season.”

The Eddies chipped away at the deficit before Barnies set up one of his teammates, Ryan Goss, to give them their first lead of the game with under a minute left in the first half. They held Leavitt at bay until midway through the third, when Berry hit a 3 and a layup to tie the game at 30. Giguerre scored on Edward Little’s next offensive trip to take the lead for good.


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