AUBURN — Edward Little couldn’t gripe too much after Friday’s 44-30 KVAC boys’ basketball victory over Mt. Blue.

The Red Eddies set specific team goals prior to every game, and EL (10-6) met every one of them on its annual Pack the Gym Night.

Shoot more free throws than the Cougars? Done, although trips to the line were few and far between.

Hold Mt. Blue under 40 points? Even with a 11-point push in the fourth quarter, the scrappy Cougars didn’t get close.

Keep explosive freshman Zack Mittelstadt to single digits? Zero took care of that, thanks to lockout defense by Kaleb Main.

“The one thing we didn’t think would be a problem would be scoring,” EL coach Mike Adams said.

Credit the Cougars (2-14) for quickness, aggressiveness and a fighting spirit that belied a lengthy losing streak.

Lone seniors Nate Backus (12 points, seven assists) and Kindle Bonsall (seven points, 12 rebounds), in particular, were outstanding.

Blame foul trouble a little bit. Point guard Luke Sterling picked up his third personal early in the second quarter. Elijah Roe fouled out 13 seconds into the fourth.

And top it off with a rough shooting night for the Red Eddies, who checked in at 33 percent from the field.

Main scored 10 of his game-high 13 points in the first half. Salad Sheikh brought 10 points off the bench.

“Everybody else was kind of six here and seven there. It was just, ugh,” said Adams, who won Maine’s Mr. Basketball award in 1990 as a senior at Mt. Blue. “We hadn’t played for a week. I think that might have had something to do with it, too.”

EL threatened to run away with an 11-0 run from the opening tap. Main, Roe, Lew Jensen and Andrew Middleton all got into the scoring mix.

Backus ended the Cougars’ drought with a pull-up jump shot from the free-throw line with 2:20 remaining in the quarter. On Mt. Blue’s next trip, Backus snared a 70-foot pass from Mittelstadt to start a 3-point play.

“A lot of respect to them,” Adams said. “To finish off a year and not going to the playoffs, they played hard and did good things and executed well.”

Main scored the first seven points of the second quarter in a span of under two minutes, and the Eddies’ lead stayed in double digits for the rest of the evening.

Jensen and Middleton were held far beneath their scoring averages but found multiple ways to contribute. Jensen put together seven points, nine boards and six assists, while Middleton hauled down seven rebounds and blocked four shots.

Roe chipped in eight points.

EL remains in a scramble behind reigning state champion and heavy Eastern Maine favorite Hampden. The second through eighth teams in the Heal Point standings have spent the winter beating up on each other.

The Eddies expect to enter the tournament as the third or fourth seed.

“Who knows in the KVAC?” Adams said.


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