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)

The presumptive stars of Saturday’s Class AA North boys’ basketball showdown between Edward Little and Oxford Hills had to sit and watch more than they and their respective coaches would have liked.

That only gave a chance for role players to take center stage and put on a show of their own.

Sure, Wol Maiwen scored a game-high 18 points for the victorious Red Eddies, but foul trouble limited his minutes in the first half, and even some in the second with head coach Mike Adams not wanting to further risk losing his senior forward.

Before he did head to the bench, though, Maiwen forced Colton Carson there first, drawing two fouls against the Vikings’ senior center in the first 31 seconds of the game. In came Tanner Herrick, and eventually Patrick Paine, as well, to pick up Carson’s lost playing time.

Junior guard Jesse Leonard also came off the bench and drained a 3-pointer for Oxford Hills.

“Everybody on our bench gave us something, which was a lot better than what happened against Gorham the other night,” Vikings coach Scott Graffam said. “But today it was much better, and I was very proud of those kids.”

EL’s reserves also got extended playing time, with not only Maiwen, but starters Max Creaser and Cam Yorke racking up fouls.

“Ethan Brown came in, Eric Robinson came in. Guys that do get minutes, but more significant minutes tonight in a big, big game,” EL coach Mike Adams said. “And Eric hit some free throws at the end that really helped.”

Robinson made two fourth-quarter free throws that helped the Red Eddies rally, and he finished with five points total. Dan Milks added a 3 off the bench, while Brown, Jamaine Luizzo and John Shea all saw time on the court.

LUMBERJACK MILESTONES

Last Monday, Hebron Academy’s Colin Griggs coached his 300th varsity-level game. It only took him nine years.

Griggs is the head coach of both the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams at Hebron, the girls’ basketball team and the girls’ soccer team. Griggs also subbed in an interim role in 2011-12 for just over a month as the boys’ basketball coach.

During the day, Griggs is the assistant athletic director at Hebron along with many other duties at the Academy. Coaching lets him escape to do something he truly enjoys.

“People always ask me why I like my job,” Griggs said. “In the afternoon, no matter what I’m doing I get to step away from everything else and get to coach. I get to be with kids who have a goal, have a team goal, who work together and those are things that are fun to do.”

This season, Griggs has a good group of girls who have height, speed and high-scoring ability. The offensive attack is led by Franceska Halloran, who on Friday scored the 1,000th point of her Hebron career. Sitting at 7-1, the Lumberjacks are sitting near the top of Class C South. With Allyson Walsh also grabbing double-digit rebounds seemingly every game in the post, Hebron could make a strong run as the season winds down.

GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE

Lewiston hosted Bangor in girls’ basketball on Friday night in a Class AA North showdown. Bangor jumped out to an early lead thanks to sisters Abby and Libby Fleming, but Lewiston stormed back in the second half and cut a 27-point deficit to just 10 points late in the game.

While the Rams came away with the win, both teams showed where their programs are at and the brightness of each team’s future.

Bangor started one senior, one junior and three sophomores, including the Fleming sisters. At 8-5 and in the top-half of AA North, the Rams look to make a strong run this February and Februaries in the future by doing what got them the win Friday: Sharing the ball, hitting 3s and grabbing a whole lot of rebounds.

Lewiston has an equally-young squad, with just one senior on the roster, coupled with six underclassmen. The Blue Devils showed a fighting spirit behind the shooting of junior Maddy Foster and strong guard play from sophomores Emily Strachan and Myah Nicolas. Lewiston has strong middle schoolers coming up through the pipeline and will look to be at the top of AA North by the time they are walking the halls of LHS.

STOP HITTING SNOOZE

A wake-up call for Gray-New Gloucester’s defense led to what might be the Patriots’ signature win so far this season, Friday night’s 60-56 comeback triumph over Wells.

The Patriots fell behind the Warriors 20-7 in the first quarter and trailed by as much as 18 in the second quarter before rallying to beat the two-time defending Class B South champs in overtime.

Gray-New Gloucester coach Ryan Deschenes said his team may have gotten complacent riding a four-game winning streak into Friday’s game.

“We’ve been playing really well defensively up to that point, and I think we took that defense for granted and we were pretty lackadaisical to start,” Deschenes said. “Wells runs a good motion offense, a little flex in there, too, and so there’s a lot of screening. It’s difficult to prepare for … and they may be the best in our class at that. So they got a lot of open looks. They hit us early.”

The Patriots whittled the deficit back down to 13 and picked up some momentum to end the half. They limited the Warriors to five points in the third quarter, which is around the time senior John Martin and junior Nick Pelletier started to take over and knock down big shots at the other end.

“The biggest thing is we applied a little pressure. We mixed and matched a couple of our zone traps. That kept them off balance and that sped them up a little bit, because they are really deliberate. Once we sped them up, we were able to play with a little more pace and that opened some things up for us offensively.”

Pelletier’s 3-pointer with five seconds left in regulation forced overtime, which is when Martin scored eight of his game-high 26 points to secure the win.

“It shows a lot of our senior leadership,” Deschenes said. “It shows a lot with our poise and that we believe in each other and trust each other, that we’ll take it one possession at a time and good things can happen when we do that.”

Deschenes said the Patriots (9-3) are gaining confidence with each win and hope to continue improving in the final three weeks of the regular season, with tough opponents such as Greely, Cape Elizabeth and Freeport left on the schedule.

“We’re definitely playing good basketball. We’ve still got a little ways to go but we’re climbing the ladder the right way,” Deschenes said. “We haven’t peaked yet, which I love, but we’re certainly playing good basketball. The biggest thing we need is a little more consistency.”

MUSTANGS PULLING THEIR WEIGHT

Monmouth has a simple one-word slogan for this season, and it’s helped them become one of the best turnaround stories of the year.

Pull.

“It means everybody pulls their weight,” senior forward Connor Davies said. “We all just go as hard as we can, and we’ve just gotten better.”

At 9-3, Monmouth already has more wins than the last two years combined, and is well on its way to its first tournament berth since 2016.

Over the last two years, coach Wade Morrill has preached patience while starting with a nucleus of then freshmen and sophomores. Now, those players have grown into juniors and seniors who are comfortable and confident in their roles and with each other.

“It really starts with our seniors and juniors,” Morrill said. “These eight boys, these seniors and juniors, have taken it on the chin in basketball a lot. The last three years, they have played as much as anyone around and they have worked as hard as anyone around, and they’re starting to see all of that hard work pay off.”

“My sophomore year, we had to come in and play most of the varsity minutes because we didn’t have too many seniors at that time,” Davies said. “We’ve lacked experience for the past two years, but this year knowing who our competition was and knowing how much experience we have, it helps a lot.”

The Mustangs started the season with a tough schedule and were 1-3 after losses to Spruce Mountain, Winthrop and Boothbay. But they bounced back with a seven-game winning streak that wasn’t snapped until they threw a scare into defending Class C South champion Hall-Dale in a 71-64 loss on Thursday.

Monmouth’s backcourt of Dylan Lajoie and Gabe Martin sets the tempo. Both are excellent playmakers who are also capable of carrying the team offensively for stretches.

Davies and fellow senior Evan Burnell complement the backcourt with their inside presence and give the Mustangs two more scoring options.

“We’ve got great balance across the board,” Morrill said. “If you’re focusing on one guy, one of the great things about our system here is, fine, we’re going to take what you give us. Everyone can be a threat on the court. If you only have one or two ponies, you’re easier to stop.”

“It’s really about team basketball. Everyone gets to eat,” he added.

Morrill thinks the Mustangs could give opponents a lot to digest at tournament time.

“I think that our boys are starting to believe in their potential,” Morrill said. “I think as long as our defense stays solid and our rebounding stays solid, and we keep our composure and do our jobs, I think that we can be the type of team that a lot of schools would not want to play.”

RAMBLERS ON THE MOVE

Winthrop’s first loss of the season was about as ugly as a loss could get.

The Ramblers had their worst game of the season in a 32-13 defeat at Oak Hill on Jan. 12.

“After that game, we said we could laugh about it or cry about it and so we chose to laugh about it a little bit,” Winthrop coach Joe Burnham said. “But we knew it also pointed out some things we needed to do better.”

One thing it pointed out, Burnham said, was a lack of movement on offense.

“Almost every second of our basketball practices since that game have been dedicated to getting the ball moving, moving without the ball and using our athleticism,” Burnham said.

The Ramblers bounced back from the loss with fine all-around efforts in wins over Madison (52-48) and Spruce Mountain (59-47), with the kind of scoring balance that reflects good ball movement. Kena Souza, Aaliyah WilsonFalcone and Madison Forgue all reached double figures against Madison. WilsonFalcone was the only one to reach double figures against Spruce with 17 points, but got plenty of help from Forgue, Souza and Jillian Schmelzer, who combined for 26 points.

Winthrop will need to maintain, if not pick up, its offensive game this week with a tough slate that features road games against Dirigo, unbeaten Boothbay and Spruce Mountain.

“It doesn’t get easier,” Burnham said.

CHEMISTRY TEST

For a few minutes, at least, Friday night, things looked right for the Edward Little girls in their game against Oxford Hills.

Down 12-6 after one quarter, the Red Eddies doubled that offensive output in the second. It was their best scoring period of an otherwise cold offensive game that they lost 50-32.

All five starters made buckets. Chantel Ouellette and Hannah Chaput hit 3-pointers, while Grace Fontaine, Caroline Hammond and Jade Perry all converted from inside the arc.

“That’s some of the stuff that we’ve tried to talk about, is that we’re trying to find that chemistry of getting a lot of touches on the ball, moving the ball, and that’s what happened in that second quarter, and it looked really, really good,” EL coach Chris Cifelli said. “And we kind of got away from that in that third quarter, and everything kind of unraveled.”

The defending Class AA state champs are still trying to find their way with the season now two-thirds of the way through, sitting at 7-5 after Friday’s loss.

“I think we’re trying to find an identity. I think we’re trying to find, certainly trying to find some chemistry. I think we have — there’s the flashes of brilliance that we can see how well we can play,” Cifelli said. “You know, I think overall I think we have the pieces that we need, but I’m hoping that the kids can take those steps forward to trusting each other.”

Hebron Academy coach Colin Griggs talks to his team during a timeout earlier this month in Freeport. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)Pine Tree Academy’s Adriana DePalma drives to the basket as Hebron Academy’s Franceska Halloran holds her ground earlier this month in Freeport. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)


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