Edward Little’s Wal Maiwen goes up for a slam during the second half of Saturday night’s game against Oxford Hills. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

AUBURN — Edward Little found itself in foul trouble for the first time all year, according to head coach Mike Adams.

The Red Eddies also found themselves trailing for much of Saturday’s Class AA North boys’ basketball contest against Oxford Hills, but they overcame the fouls, and the deficits, to rally past the Vikings, 58-53.

“It was great to just do a lot of little things to try to overcome all those things, and the kids made stops and got big baskets when we needed to,” Adams said.

Save for a couple brief leads in the first half, the Red Eddies (10-2) spent much of the game playing from behind. They trailed by as many as six points with less than six minutes to play, but a Wol Maiwen putback with 45 seconds left gave EL a 53-51 lead that it never let go of.

“You know, every night you have to play your perfect game to have a chance to win,” said Vikings coach Scott Graffam, who called his team’s schedule brutal. “And, you know, if you can’t make foul shots and you don’t box out — and that’s what happened to us in the fourth quarter.”

The Vikings (7-6) missed three of their seven foul shots in the final frame, including the front end of a 1-and-1 twice. The Red Eddies, meanwhile, made nine of their 12 in the fourth, including Austin Brown making all five of his attempts.

Those were paramount in a game that saw 45 fouls called — 23 against Oxford Hills, 22 against Edward Little. That included two each in the first quarter for Maiwen (3:15 into the game) and Oxford Hill’s Colton Carson (31 seconds in).

“Colton and Wol were both in foul trouble, you know, which is too bad because they’re two of the best players in the state,” Adams said. “So neither team could really get into a rhythm without some of their players.”

EL also had to sit starters Max Creaser and Cam Yorke with two fouls apiece in the first quarter.

Oxford Hills took advantage with its guard play. Spencer Strong and Garrett Record scored four points each in the first quarter, which the Vikings ended with a 15-11 lead. Carson’s replacements — Tanner Herrick and Patrick Paine — also added baskets.

“Tanner and Pat Paine gave us really good minutes off the bench,” Graffam said.

Maiwen drew a third foul on Carson midway through the second, then sank two free throws to give EL a 17-16 advantage, but Herrick answered with a three-point play to hand back the lead to the Vikings. An Eric Robinson layup knotted the game back up, but then Record responded with a jumper to make it 21-19, and Oxford Hills held onto that lead until midway through the fourth.

The third quarter saw the game jump back and forth between a one- and two-possession game. A Maiwen dunk in transition made it a one-point game (40-39) one minute into the fourth, but Oxford Hills eventually stretched its advantage to six after a Record 3-pointer with 5:45 to play. A Carson driving layup made it the same advantage with with less than five minutes to go.

But fouls helped the Red Eddies get back in it. Three-point plays by Yorke and and Brown were both game-tiers, Brown’s making it a 51-51 game with 1:31 to play.

It was the fouls that weren’t called that Graffam said in part doomed his team.

“You know, we got fouled a couple times and they didn’t call it, and kids get it in their heads, instead of being mentally tougher,” Graffam said. “They got to play through that stuff.”

The Red Eddies did.

“We were in the situation to do some things that we worked on (in practice), but it’s always good when your kids show growth, and show maturity,” Adams said. “We practice great situations against a really good team with a really good players. So tonight it worked in our favor. Tomorrow, it might not, you know, because Oxford Hills is really good.”

Maiwen led all scorers with 18 points, despite picking up three fouls in the first half. Brown added 13, with six coming in the first and seven down the stretch in the fourth.

Record led the Vikings with 13, in what Graffam called his best game of the year. Strong had 10, but Adams was happy to hold him to that much, which is half of his season average.

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Edward Little’s Cam Yorke, left, drives to the basket as Oxford Hills’ Spencer Strong defends during the second half of Saturday’s game in Auburn where the Eddies won a close game. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

Edward Little’s Cam Yorke left and Eric Robinson, right, trap Garrett Record in the backcourt and force a loose ball during the second half of Saturday’s game in Auburn where the Eddies won a close game. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

Edward Little’s Eric Robinson rips down a rebound between Oxford Hills’ Patrick Paine, left and Will Dieterich, right, during the second half of Saturday’s game in Auburn where the Eddies won a close game. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)