AUGUSTA — The first meeting between Edward Little and Bangor this season featured frayed nerves, chewed finger nails and a fantastic finish.

It was no surprise that the rematch provided much of the same.

 Top-seeded Bangor held off a late charge by Edward Little on Wednesday and won another nail-biter, a 47-45 triumph in the teams’ Eastern Class A semifinal  at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday.

The Rams (19-1) led the entire game, but watched the Red Eddies (15-4) rally late and get within two in the final minute. EL had a couple of tries to trim that deficit even more, but came up empty.

“We had a three to tie it and had a layup at different points in the last minute-and-a-half,” EL coach Craig Jipson said. “We really executed some things. I was really pleased we had a chance to tie the game. We just didn’t make the shots.”

Bangor advances to Saturday afternoon’s Eastern A final to play second-ranked Lawrence. Those two teams split during the regular season.

EL’s Tianna Harriman had hit a late 3 against the Rams in the regular season meeting that forced overtime. Bangor then won at the buzzer in overtime, 54-52.

Bangor was looking for something similar this time around and was guarding against it.

“We had to stop (Harriman),” Bangor coach Joe Johnson said. “Last time she hit a three right at the buzzer flying toward the bench to tie it up. We ended up winning on an offensive rebound. It was very similar to that. We talked about not giving up an easy three. We defended as hard as we could.”

Harriman did feed Eraleena Hairston for a shot in the paint but her shot missed with EL down by three. The Red Eddies got the ball back with 15 seconds left and a chance to tie it. Emily Jacques had a try at a quick 3 from the left side, but it hit the front of the rim and bounced away. Bangor got the rebound and Katie Butler hit two free throws to finish it off. Jacques hit a 3 at the buzzer to close the gap to two points.

“We’ve played some close games,” Bangor senior guard Mary Butler said. “We have a lot of seniors on this team with a lot of experience. I think that really helps. Whenever they made a run, we pulled it together and finished the game.”

Mary Butler led the Rams with 16 points, including 10 in the third that helped the Rams answer an EL run. Her sister Katie Butler finished with 13, including seven in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve seen a lot of that this year at the end of games,” Johnson said of the Butlers. “Finally, we broke some pressure off to free Katie up. When she attacks the basket, she’s pretty hard to stop.”

Jacques led EL with 21 including 11 in the fourth quarter. Harrimand had nine while Brooke Reynolds added seven.

“We also made some big shots,” Jipson said. “We hit some shots that helped us cut it to two or three. They had an 11-point lead. We just didn’t hit enough baskets early. We told them we needed it to be a track meet for us to win. We wanted it to be 65-61. We just weren’t able to make enough baskets early to really press.”

EL was down by as many as 10 in the first half but closed it to 19-14 at the half. After Mary Butler opened the lead to 25-16, the Red Eddied got a pair of 3’s from Harriman that helped EL cut it to 28-24. Mary Butler hit a pair of 3’s in the third and Emily Gilmore, who scored the game-winner in the regular season meeting, added another. A Jacques drive got it to 31-26, but a Mary Butler 3 made it 34-26 after three.

“I knew coming out at halftime that six points wasn’t a huge gape,” Butler said. “I think we came out with an extra focus. We wanted to get a jump on them.”

The Rams extended the lead in the fourth. Katie Butler led the charge with five points during a 6-2 run that made it 40-28. EL managed to rally with a three-point play by Jacques. Then Callie Murray and Brooke Reynolds hit baskets to make it 40-35 with 4:16 left. EL’s defense picked up the pace and started to play with some urgency. A Jacques 3 got EL within 40-38 with 3:27 remaining.

“Thankfully, we’ve been in a lot of close games this year,” Johnson said. “We responded pretty well throughout the year. We got rattled with their pressure because they’re good at it, but once we cracked it a couple of times and got some layups out of it, it made a difference in the game.”

Katie Butler scored in the post with 1:51 left to make it 42-38. Then Mary Butler added to the lead with a pair of free throws with 1:35 remaining. EL kept charging. Jacques scored with 1:17 left. Then Brooke Reynolds hit a short jumper to cut it to 44-42 with 1:07 left.

Gilmore sank a free throw with 50 seconds left to make it 45-42. EL had a couple of opportunities to dent that lead but failed. Harriman was held scoreless in the fourth.

“(Harriman) made a couple of deep threes,” Johnson said. “We closed out harder and we did a good job. She didn’t get many looks at the basket after that.”

The Butlers combined for six points and Sarah Bragg hit a 3 in the first quarter as Bangor opened an 11-4 lead.  EL struggled, missing its first five shots and going 2-for-9 from the floor. The Red Eddies, which have haven’t clicked in the zone offense at times this year, started the second hitting just one of its first seven shots.

“With all that size, we were tentative and playing afraid too much on offense, but I really liked how we fought through the second half,” Jipson said.

Though EL battled back from behind, the Rams did a nice job playing with the lead and responding to any Red Eddies rally.

“We were always playing from behind,” Jipson said. “We cut it to four in the third quarter. Mary Butler hit a big three. We were just giving up some big shots.”

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