AUGUSTA — When you face Portland in boys’ basketball, you cling to glimmers of hope.

Edward Little found its ray of sunshine in the form of four minutes of lockdown defense to start the second half. Jarod Norcross Plourde’s second-chance basket pulled the Red Eddies within an area code of a miracle, 10 points down, in the Class AA semifinals at Augusta Civic Center.

Portland’s reply: A forceful fuhgeddaboutit, in the form of nine consecutive points. The disparity was 21 points by the third-period horn, and the Bulldogs were well on their way to another title game, 70-43.

“We were kind of on borrowed time. You just hope you come out and play your best,” EL coach Mike Adams said. “We didn’t play our best, and a lot of that was because of Portland. They’re quick and athletic, and they’re really strong defensively.”

Age-old rivals Portland (18-1) and Deering (17-2) will ride one hour up the interstate to play the predicted one-versus-two final at 8:45 p.m. Friday.

Sophomore guard Terion Moss scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the first quarter to set the agenda for Portland. Amir Moss and Griffin Foley each added 14.

Foley scored off the opening tap, and Portland was only minimally challenged throughout.

“We know we can play our game when we need to,” Foley said. “We know we can step up and make plays or big shots.”

Portland went man-to-man and all-out, all 94 feet from the start, by design, in hopes of shaking off the rust that may have developed from a quarterfinal bye.

“Away from home, late at night, not a big crowd, I said we had to create some of our own energy,” Portland coach Joe Russo said. “Even though a 2-3 zone would probably be a better choice against EL, we needed energy. Just the fact that we were running kept us engaged.”

Plourde posted 13 points for EL (11-9), which has reached the regional semis every year since 2008. Senior Austin Cox contributed 11 in his final game for the Eddies.

Amir Moss answered Plourde with a putback to break Portland’s drought in the third quarter. Joe Esposito kept it rolling with a 3-point play, followed by a fast break layup from Foley.

Charlie Lyall capped the run with a layuip. Foley’s 3-pointer beat the buzzer for a 51-30 lead.

“They’re just too good. Joe’s a great coach and he’s got great players, and that’s a bad combination to play against,” Adams said.

EL took its lone lead of the night, 5-4, on a 3-pointer by Cox. Portland dominated the remainder of the period and raced out to a 22-9 advantage.

The Red Eddies couldn’t counter the speed and explosiveness of Terion Moss, who piggybacked two layups on the run with a pair of 3-pointers. Emmanuel Yugu also provided a 3-pointer.

“I must have said, ‘Jeezum Crow, they just turned the corner and got to the paint again’ a hundred times,” Adams said. “They’re so quick and so strong. They’re really fundamental, as well. They’re definitely the better team. You just wish that we could have played the way that we know we’re capable.’

Plourde’s six points were the extent of EL’s first-period offense aside from Cox’s trey.

Terion Moss was less of a problem in the second quarter. The Bulldogs spread the floor, instead. Amir Moss connected for two baskets. Foley hit a 3-pointer. Yugu and Ben Griffin combined for six points off the bench.

“I thought the bench was huge,” Russo said. “We made good passes and got to the rim. It was really a team effort. Griff Foley played well tonight. Joey and Amir didn’t have great games, but a lot of the credit goes to EL. Mike was doing some good stuff and it took those guys out of their game.”

EL rallied from a 1-5 start to make the tournament, then battled back from a seven-point deficit in the final minute to clip Cheverus, 46-43, in the quarterfinals.

“They made it to the semifinals, and nobody ever would have said that at the beginning of the year,” Adams said. “They lost five in a row and they kept on persevering. They’re a great group.”

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