Bangor’s Matthew Fleming swings the net after winning the Class AA North final against Edward Little on Friday at Cross Insurance Arena. (Portland Press Herald photo by Ben McCanna)

PORTLAND — Bangor held Edward Little without a field goal for over five minutes in the fourth quarter and rode clutch shooting from senior Matt Fleming to a 56-52 win over Edward Little in the Class AA North final Friday night at Cross Insurance Arena.

Edward Little’s Maxwell Creaser finds space between Bangor’s Matthew Fleming, left, and Jason Smith during the Class AA North final on Friday at Cross Insurance Arena. (Portland Press Herald photo by Ben McCanna)

Fleming led all scorers with 27 points, including five 3-pointers, and 11 rebounds. Damien Vance added 12 points for the top-seeded Rams. Wol Maiwen paced No. 2 EL (18-3) with 23 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and four blocks, while Max Creaser added 19 points.

“We preach defense. That’s our main focus. It has been all year,” said Fleming, whose team held EL to 39 percent shooting from the floor. “(We were) getting in the passing lanes, making it tougher for shooters to shoot.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of them and how they stuck together,” first-year Bangor coach Brad Libby said of the Rams. “Edward Little’s a great team. They made a run there and cut it to two, but we stuck together and we fought.”

Bangor (19-2) will face Bonny Eagle, the winner of Friday night’s AA South final in the state title at 9:05 p.m. next Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena.

The Red Eddies trailed by as much as 17 in the second half but gradually swung momentum in their favor through the third quarter and into the start the fourth. Creaser’s jumper with 5:59 left made it 44-38 and highlighted an 8-2 Eddies run to start the fourth, but it would be their last field goal for an agonizing stretch.

“That’s been us all year,” Edward Little coach Mike Adams said of his team’s shooting woes. “We’ve had long stretches against good teams of not scoring.”

Edward Little forced five turnovers in the first three minutes of the fourth, and Creaser and Maiwen each hit a pair of free throws to make it 44-42 Rams with 5:01 left.

Everything seemed to be going EL’s way when Vance fouled out on a player control foul a short time later.

“Probably the first thing that went through my mind was we’re losing our second-best scorer and a dynamic guard,” Libby said. “But I have all of the trust in the world in these guys. It’s been all year long that if it wasn’t one guy’s night then the next guys stepped up.”

The Eddies couldn’t convert on their ensuing opportunity to tie or go ahead. Fleming made the missed chance sting more by driving to the basket to get a three-point play with 3:52 remaining that sparked an 8-1 Bangor run.

Cam Yorke’s 3-pointer ended Edward Little’s shooting drought and made it 52-46 with 54 seconds to go. But Bangor went 10-for-11 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to maintain at least a two-possession lead over the final half of the period.

Bangor got Fleming going early, as he was responsible for four points in a 6-0 run to start the game. Fleming’s seven points in the quarter helped the Rams maintain that cushion, 13-7, at the end of the first period.

But Fleming was just getting started. He sparked a 7-0 Bangor run to start the second quarter with five points, including a 3-pointer that made it 20-7.

“Bangor shot the ball really, really well,” Adams said. “Fleming showed why he’s one of the best players if not the best player in the state, skill-wise. But beyond that, I was wicked proud of our kids. They showed a lot of toughness and grit.”

“Our goal the whole game was to attack Wol,” Fleming said. “We wanted him in foul trouble. He didn’t sit as much as we wished he could because of foul trouble. But he wasn’t guarding me the whole game. They switched someone else on me. So they were very cautious about him getting fouls.”

Edward Little rode a quick spurt from Maiwen that included a steal he converted into a dunk, and a fall-away jumper that closed the margin to 22-17. But the Rams ran off the last nine points of the half on a 3-pointer by Isaac Cummnings and two treys from Fleming, who finished with 11 points in the quarter and 18 in the half, to take a 31-17 lead into halftime.

A 3-pointer by Vance pushed Bangor’s lead to 17 on the first possession of the second half. EL chipped away behind Creaser and Maiwen and pulled within 42-34 at the end of the period.

 

Bangor’s Isaac Cummings reacts after winning the Class AA final against Edward Little on Friday at Cross Insurance Arena. (Portland Press Herald photo by Ben McCanna)

Bangor’s Isaac Cummings drives around Edward Little’s Camryn Yorke during the Class AA North final on Friday at Cross Insurance Arena. (Portland Press Herald photo by Ben McCanna)

Bangor celebrates after winning the Class AA North final against Edward Little on Friday at Cross Insurance Arena. (Portland Press Herald photo by Ben McCanna)

Bangor’s Matthew Fleming takes a shot wagainst Edward Little’s Wol Maiwen during the Class AA North final on Friday at Cross Insurance Arena. (Portland Press Herald photo by Ben McCanna)

Bangor players react to a 3-pointer during the Class AA North final Friday against Edward Little at Cross Insurance Arena. (Portland Press Herald photo by Ben McCanna)