AUGUSTA — Fans don’t heckle the Edward Little boys’ basketball team the way crowds of yesteryear serenaded the teammates of Andy Bedard, Ralph Mims and Nik Caner-Medley.

“One! Man! Teeeee-eam!”

Oh, but it’s implied. Suggested by the way student sections jeer every time Bo Leary makes contact with their schoolmate’s shadow. And hinted by the manner in which coaches give defensive assignments and players heed them.

“I think Bo got so much attention down low that my man was barely even guarding me. I just tried to catch and shoot,” Edward Little senior Cody Nicholas said of Hampden Academy’s approach and his reaction to it during Wednesday’s Eastern Class A semifinal.

“Yeah, I take it a little personally,” he acknowledged. “It’s like someone’s saying I’m not a threat.”

How do we say this delicately? Nicholas was left with more breathing room than Jimmy Chitwood enjoyed while shooting alone at a coat-hanger hoop in his backyard, awaiting the right moment to crash Coach Norman Dale’s dismissal hearing in “Hoosiers.”

Brandon Giguere couldn’t have been more lonely on the Augusta Civic Center court launching 12-foot jump shots if he were spotting up in an NBA all-star game.

Quin Leary’s name might as well be Cooper Manning or Ozzie Canseco for all the attention the Broncos’ paid him relative to his big brother.

And Timmy Mains? Hampden handled him as every bit the playmaker, defensive pest and self-sacrificing Mr. Intangibles that every incomplete scouting report says he is.

The Broncos lured Bo Leary into immediate, deep foul trouble, then turned this regional final four game into the ultimate competition of truth-or-dare.

EL’s supporting cast answered with authority: We’ll take both, thanks.

Leary landed 15 points and nine rebounds — probably a quarter’s worth beneath his average during the KVAC campaign.

His sophomore sibling supplied a team-high 17 points and nine boards.

Mains mustered 14, all in the second half, including the clinching free throws with under two seconds remaining in a 70-65 victory. And yes, he furnished his customary six rebounds, five assists, five steals and one drawn charge without regard for his flesh, bones or mom’s blood pressure.

Nicholas nailed three second-quarter 3-pointers and three huge freebies in the final minute.

Giguere gleaned a dozen points and seven rebounds, all defensive caroms against a ridiculously dangerous offense that didn’t need second chances.

That’s five starters, all in double digits, in the biggest game of the year to this point.

One-man team, my tired, tournament-tested fanny.

“I think they do feel a little bit of disrespect, but they’re also smart. They know the key is to stop Bo,” Edward Little coach Mike Adams said. “I think the biggest thing with our seniors is that they wanted to get back here Friday night. They’ve worked too hard. They’re not the most athletic. They’re not the biggest team, as you saw tonight and as you’ll see Friday. But they’re sticking together.”

Mains, Nicholas, Giguere and Bo Leary have never lost a sectional semifinal. EL (19-1) stormed into the title game for the fourth consecutive year. The Red Eddies will meet No. 1 Bangor (19-1) at 8:45 p.m. Friday.

Getting there two years ago meant overcoming Bangor’s mystique. The Red Eddies hadn’t beaten the Rams or a team of their magnitude and tradition in the Eastern tournament until 2009.

Clearing the hurdle last winter required overtime and a buzzer-beater by Yusuf Iman.

Somehow this year’s middle step of the journey seemed the toughest of them all.

Hampden rained down a regional tournament record 12 3-pointers, a staggering seven by sensational senior Graham Safford.

EL fell into an early six-point deficit, while its unquestioned star exhausted two of his five allotted fouls.

The Red Eddies rallied to a 34-30 halftime lead, a happy feat soured in the final seconds by Leary’s third personal on an ill-fated reach for an offensive rebound.

“I had to let up a little bit, but there’s a point when you have to pick it back up,” Leary said. “I feel like I picked it back up.”

Safe to say he was inspired by his teammates.

“It’s great when you can pass the ball to them and they hit their shots,” Leary said. “I think they’re a big threat, and I think people will have to get out on them if they hit 3s like they did tonight.”

Adams planted the seeds of confidence in the team’s final pre-game film session on Tuesday.

No, not “Hoosiers.” Although the recurring theme — a region’s relentless focus on one player — was much the same.

“In watching our tapes last night, we pointed out to the guys that this happens a lot with other teams,“ Adams said. “When Bo gets the ball, everybody’s head just kind of goes right in.”

One of these nights, an opponent will wise up, and those eyes will turn toward one of four other Eddies with bad intentions.

Or else all eyes will be watching them hoist regional and state championship trophies, very soon.

Heckle that.

Kalle Oakes is a staff columnist. His email is [email protected]


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