Edward LIttle’s Hannah Chaput, right, puts up a floater as South Portland’s Meghan Graff applies pressure during the first half of Tuesday’s game in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — Edward Little entered Tuesday’s girls’ basketball game wanted to change the zero in South Portland’s loss column.

“Before the game started, we said we wanted to be that one on their record that said they lost,” Red Eddies guard Hannah Chaput said, “and we did it.”

Jade Perry hit a tie-breaking free throw with 32 seconds left, and the Red Eddies made clutch defensive stops to win 45-44 and hand the Red Riots their first loss of the season.

“We knew they were tough, and we just had to play as a team,” Perry said. “We had to pull it together, we had to be team players and not count on one person, we had to count on everybody bringing their ‘A’ game.”

The Red Eddies’ offense started cold, going more than three minutes without a point. The Red Riots weren’t faring much better, taking two-and-a-half minutes to score.

Chaput, though, heated up quickly, draining a game-tying 3-pointer a little more than three minutes into the game. She it another to cut South Portland’s lead to 9-6.

Caroline Hammond gave Edward Little its first lead with a trey after the defense forgot to pick her up. Then, in the closing seconds of the opening quarter, Chaput hit her third 3 to give the Red Eddies a 14-12 lead.

Chaput scored 10 of the Eddies’ first-quarter points.

“She just helped me and our team build confidence,” Perry said. “Like, ‘OK, here we go, let’s keep it going.’

“She got it started.”

The Red Eddies held onto the lead until late in the fourth quarter.

Grace Fontaine opened the second quarter with a 3 — EL made seven in the opening half — as the Red Eddies began to build a lead that reached six points, 27-21, at halftime after Chaput hit her fourth trey.

“I haven’t shot that many 3-pointers in a while,” Chaput said.

“I think we’re not used to being down, and we were down by, what, six at the half?” South Portland coach Lynne Hasson said. “I think we didn’t finish shots. Hats off to Edward Little, they’re a really strong team, they played really well, they shot it really well.

Chaput’s fifth and final 3-pointer midway through the third quarter gave EL its largest lead at 32-23.

“Hannah hit a whole bunch, and her confidence in taking those really did affect their defense, I think, too, because they had to send one of their best defenders on her, and that opened some other shots up for some other kids,” Edward Little coach Chris Cifelli said.

The Red Riots started to chip away at the lead and got it back down to six, 39-33, by the end of the third.

South Portland (14-1) continued to get closer, but its comeback was slowed by big shots from the Red Eddies.

“There were some big shots made in big moments that kind of stopped their momentum,” Cifelli said.

Finally, the Red Riots caught up, and took a 44-42 lead after Meghan Graff’s three-point play with 2:13 remaining.

Again, the Red Eddies answered. This time, Grace Beaudet tied the game with a bucket.

After EL’s defense forced an errant pass that sailed out of bounds, Perry drew a foul with 32 seconds left.

Perry missed the first free throw, and Cifelli called a timeout and reminded Perry that she had “done this a million times.”

“Um, personally, I wish I would have just been able to shoot the other one,” Perry said with a smile. “But it did give me a chance to calm down and relax.”

Perry made the second shot to give the Eddies a 45-44 lead.

“I knew I had to do it,” Perry said. “It was definitely a lot of pressure, and it was definitely very scary, but I just had to calm myself down. My dad always tells me, ‘You do this all the time, it’s just another free throw. They’re free for a reason, you can make them.’”

At the other end of the court, Chaput knocked down a pass and drew a foul on a collision while going for a loose ball with 14 seconds left.

Three seconds later, Perry drew another foul to put EL in the bonus. She missed the front end of the one-and-one, but the Eddies’ defense again clamped down and forced the Red Riots into a rushed, off-balance try from 3-point range that bounced off the side of the rim.

“They made their kids run clock and settle for a shot that they might not have wanted,” Cifelli said.

Chaput finished with a game-high 17 points. Perry and Beaudet added nine and Grace Fontaine scored seven.

Margaret Whitmore had 13 for South Portland. Graff and Kathryn Whitmore each scored nine.

“Credit to them for how well they played. They’re a good team,” Hasson said. “We’ll re-evaluate and see exactly what happened, but I think some key rebounds and not making some shots we usually make, and playing a team that’s our caliber and figuring out how to handle it.”

The win moves Edward Little up to second place behind Oxford Hills in the Class AA North Heal point standings.

Edward Little’s Julia Milks, right, battles for a loose ball with South Portland’s Jena Leckie, left and Meghan Graff during the first half of Tuesday’s game in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

South Portland’s Eva Mazur defends against Edward LIttle’s Hannah Chaput during the first half of Tuesday’s game in Auburn.(Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

South Portland’s Katie Whitmore is fouled by Edward Little’s Jade Perry as she goes up for a layup during Tuesday’s game in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Edward Little’s Piper Norcross, left and South Portland’s Maggie Whitmore jockey for position under the basket during Tuesday’s game in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Edward LIttle Varsity girls basketball coach Chris Cifelli cheers his team on during the first half of Tuesday night’s home game against South Portland. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)


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