AUBURN — Try as it might, Edward Little couldn’t distance itself from Deering throughout Tuesday night’s Class AA North boys’ basketball game.

So the contest came down to the final shot.

Max Morrione took the inbounds pass at half-court with 6.3 seconds left, spun off a defender and drove to the hoop and into a crowd for a short runner that bounced off the back iron. Edward Little’s Wol Maiwen pulled down the rebound and killed the final second for a 63-61 Red Eddies’ victory.

Maiwen led the Red Eddies (9-2) with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Max Creaser added 17 points and nine boards.

Ben Onek paced Deering (6-5) with 23 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with 21 seconds remaining. Darryl Germain added 18 points, including five 3-pointers.

“That was a big win for us. Everybody stepped up for us and did something different, and the things they were supposed to do,” EL coach Mike Adams said. “They have a lot of weapons and they use them well, and it’s a nice two-man game that they have with (Onek and Germain), and other players stepped up and did things really well for them.”

Deering took possession with a chance to tie or win after Maiwen missed a pair of free throws with 9.5 seconds to go.

After a Deering timeout, Edward Little used the foul it had to give near midcourt, stopping the clock before the final play.

“We got the shot that we wanted,” Deering coach Todd Wing said. “Edward Little made a play on the ball. You want the players to decide that. There might have been a little contact, but no coach expects that contact (to be called a foul). The players have got to decide it.”

Edward Little led by as much as eight in the first half and by as many as seven in the third quarter. But Deering, which shot 50 percent both inside (23-for-46) and outside the 3-point arc (13-for-26) battled back to within 33-30 at halftime and took a 49-48 lead into the fourth quarter thanks to back-to-back 3s from Onek and Cole Martinson.

“There’s no break in this team,” Wing said. “They believe that they can be right there at the end. I believe in them. We’re playing our best basketball right now that we’ve played all year. And we’re playing it against the best teams.”

Deering took its biggest lead of the game when Germain drilled a pull-up jumper to make it 56-52. A hoop by Creaser and a steal and dunk by Maiwen tied it with 3:54 remaining.

Creaser put the Eddies in front for good with a hoop that made it 60-58 with 1:04 left.

Deering’s next two chances to tie or go ahead ended with a missed shot by Germain and with Creaser taking a charge from Onek for the latter’s fourth foul.

Edward Little broke Deering’s press with a baseball pass to Austin Brown for a layup that increased the lead to 62-58. Onek answered with a 3-pointer with 21 seconds to go, but then took his fifth foul to stop the clock by getting Creaser.

Creaser made the first free throw and missed the second, but hustling teammate Jamaine Luizzo forced a jump ball on the rebound with alternating possession giving the ball back to the Eddies.

Deering played zone defense throughout the night but it did little to thwart the Eddies in the first quarter (10-for-14 shooting). EL’s Cam Yorke picked up six of his eight assists in the period, the sixth setting up Maiwen on the baseline for a dunk that opened a 22-14 lead.

“We had ups and downs (with the zone). We had some lapses, and good teams take advantage,” Wing said. “Edward Little was able to sneak behind it a little bit and get some easy buckets. We tried to pack it in and they kept on finding those little holes. That’s what good teams do.”

“This might be one of the best passing groups that I’ve coached, and I’ve coached a lot of good passing groups,” said Adams, whose team had just six turnovers. “I say that, but if you watch us play this season, we’re turning the ball over passing (the short distance) from me to you. But tonight, we passed the ball really well.”

The ball movement didn’t lead to as many easy hoops in the second quarter (5-for-16), though, and 3-pointers from Germain and Martinson gave the Rams a 23-22 lead.

The Rams couldn’t keep up the torrid pace after making six of their first eight 3-pointers, however, and EL went on a 9-2 run, led by a 3-pointer and steal and layup by Brown, to lead 31-25.

A trey by Morrione and a hoop by Onek closed the EL lead to three points before halftime.


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