AUBURN — Edward Little needed someone or something to wake it up from a third quarter nap that turned a four-point lead into a three-point deficit.

Enter Aaron Crenshaw, for the first time all night. And the Red Eddies, and their fans, immediately responded.

Crenshaw’s six points, four rebounds and enormous presence in the paint sparked a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter that gave the Red Eddies an important 34-29 win over Brunswick Friday night.

Omar Haji-Hersi led all scorers with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Quin Leary added 10 points for the Eddies (9-5). Trent Anderson led the Dragons (9-5) with 11 points.

But it was Crenshaw, a 6-foot-2 senior with an offensive lineman’s body and soft-spoken demeanor, who ended up being the difference maker.

“He was the deciding factor in the game,” EL coach Mike Adams said. “The third quarter was awful. We tried a couple of different things and finally we said, ‘You know what? Let’s go with our two-post offense and see if we can get something to happen.'”

Crenshaw entered at the start of the fourth quarter and made his presence know quickly.

“He came in and set monster screens the first two possessions and that created a lot of things for us,” Adams said. “I was worried to death about who we’d match him up with, but he did a good job of moving his feet and keeping his man in front of him.”

“I really wasn’t thinking about making an impact on the game,” Crenshaw said. “I was really just trying to get teammates like Omar, Quin, and Ian (Therriault) opportunities to score, because I’m not really a scorer.

He might not be a scorer, but he didn’t hesitate with the ball in his hands Friday night. Just 1:17 into the fourth, he scored inside to give EL a 26-25 lead.

After the teams traded baskets to tie the game, 29-29, Therriault found a wide open Nate Alexander for a 3-pointer that gave the Eddies the lead for good with 4:17 remaining. Following a Leary hoop and a Brunswick miss, Crenshaw made a foul-line jumper and a layup to make it 37-29 with 1:47 to go.

“I take the jumper from time to time. I really didn’t think it was going to go in, but it went in,” Crenshaw said.

“He’s a big body to get the ball into the post to,” Haji-Hersi said. “He really helps out by setting a lot of good screens to get us open.”

Haji-Hersi capped the 10-0 run with a hoop off an Alexander feed to clinch it with 1:08 left.

“We didn’t deserve to win. EL played a great game defensively,” Brunswick coach Todd Hanson said. “They forced us to settle on perimeter shots and we were 4-for-17 (from the 3-point arc). They took away everything in the paint. And when we did go into the paint, they were big and strong and we couldn’t get through them.”

EL’s dominance in the paint included a 28-17 advantage on the boards. Brunswick shot 13-for-41 from the floor (31 percent), including just 25 percent in the first half.

“We tried to man-up a lot, stay in front of our guys and not let them beat us off the dribble,” Haji-Hersi said. “The first time we played them (a 54-48 Brunswick win on Dec. 12), we let a lot of guys penetrate on us and score.”

Haji-Hersi scored all of the Eddies’ points in the first quarter as they built a 10-7 lead. The margin went as high as seven on Leary’s short jumper, but the Dragons were able to cut it to four by halftime.

Mitchell Black, Brunswick’s top scorer, hurt his right wrist near the end of the first half but returned for the start of the second half. His runner and Alex Viola’s 3-pointer gave the Dragons their largest lead of the night at 25-20 late in the third quarter.

EL made just two of eight shots in the period.

“We were just standing still on offense and not moving without the ball,” Haji-Hersi said.

Energized by Crenshaw, the Eddies started cutting to the hoop without the ball and shot 8-for-11 in the fourth.

“That was a huge win for our kids,” Adams said. “We hadn’t beaten anybody, really, who’s been ahead of us (in the Heal Point standings). We needed a win like that to believe and help us with Heal Points.”


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