TOPSHAM — Everyone in the gym knew who was going to have the ball in the final seconds of Thursday night’s boys’ high school basketball game between Mt. Ararat and Edward Little.

Shyheim Ulrickson almost pulled it off.

Down seven inside two minutes, Alex LaFountain drove to the basket for a hoop-and-harm play. He missed the ensuing free throw, but the Eagles pressured the in-bound and got the ball right back. Then Ulrickson got open beyond the arc and nailed a deep trey to bring his team within two. A missed front end of an Edward Little 1-and-1 gave Mt. Ararat the ball. With less than 10 seconds, Ulirckson dribbled around and was forced to drive to the hoop, where he was fouled with three seconds left in the game.

Just when it looked like the Eagles’ Senior Night had life, the first free throw bounced off the rim and the crowd sank. Edward Little launched the in-bound down court and hung on to win a Kennebec Valley Athletic conference game, 48-47.

Edward Little (10-8) trailed 27-16 at the half, but came out firing in the third quarter, going on a 14-2 run to end the frame and take a 34-33 lead into the fourth. The Mt. Ararat (11-7) lead that was built up over the first half evaporated quickly.

“Our flow wasn’t there,” Mt. Ararat coach Steve Cox said of the second half. “When we move the ball and the offense flows well, things look really good. And when they don’t, we as a coaching staff try and figure out how to get it back. We just didn’t get it back today. We didn’t make the shots we typically make.”

Jarod Norcross Piourde led the Red Eddies, scoring 11 of his 16 total points in the second half. He scored six straight points for the visitors in the middle of the fourth quarter that helped build the lead.

For coach Mike Adams, the biggest difference was closing down the middle, where his team was beaten in the first half.

“We did a better job, not great, but a better job of limiting their paint touches and getting the ball inside for ourselves,” Adams said. “We do make a big emphasis to get the ball into the paint, and we didn’t do that in the first half. A lot of the credit goes to the bench. We pulled our starters out at one point and they really brought energy in. They gave us a great four minutes and that was big for us. We started to believe.”

Ulrickson finished with 11 points and the lone trey for the Eagles. He was held scoreless during Edward Little’s comeback in the third quarter. The 3-pointer came after four missed attempts from outside, and the senior uncharacteristically missed three free throws.

“It was just hectic at the end of the game. We were just trying to get an open look, and everyone knows that Shy(heim Ulrickson)’s going to be the one to take the last shot. It just didn’t fall this time,” LaFountain said of the free throw.

LaFountain led all scorers with 20 points, and pulled in a game-high 10 boards. Still, in the second half, LaFountain was covered inside, scoring just three buckets all half before his crucial hoop-and-harm. The rebounds he was grabbing after Red Eddie shots were suddenly turning into offensive boards and then into points.

“Defensive rebounding,” LaFountain said. “We gave them too many chances off their misses. We need to do a better job boxing out and they came back and wanted it more in the end.”

“I was happy they battled back and reached a little deeper in the tank,” Cox said. “But it was tough to give that lead up.”

The Eagles started hot and sustained the early lead in the second frame. They finished 43 percent from the floor, but according to Cox, if his team had made more shots, the game changes drastically.

“First half, we didn’t get the ball inside,” Adams said. “They kicked our butts on the glass. They got the ball inside way too much. They did a really good job of controlling the ball and limiting our dribble penetration. We didn’t do a good job of getting lower and attacking to elbows.”

Edward Little hit 38 percent of its shots, and with the second half adjustments, turned eight first-half turnovers into just two after the break. Tyler Morin tallied 11 points and Austin Cox finished with 10.

Mt. Ararat dropped four out of its last five games, with a potential playoff rematch with rival Brunswick looming.

“We took the first half away from tonight,” Cox said. “We know Brunswick as well as anybody, and if that ends up being the matchup, then we’ll prepare. We’ll be ready, and hopefully we’ll play two first halves.”


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