AUBURN — Portland was missing two starters, and Edward Little didn’t know how it would fare against a smaller lineup than anticipated. 

In Wednesday’s AA North boys basketball quarterfinal, the top-seeded Red Eddies stayed disciplined on defense and scored in bunches on the offensive end to claim a 77-22 victory over the No. 8 Bulldogs on Wednesday. 

Edward Little will play No. 4 Windham next Wednesday in Portland.

I was talking to (Portland) coach (Joe) Russo before, and you’re thinking before the game, what are they going to do?” Edward Little coach Mike Adams said. “Are they going to come out with the delay and take the air out of the ball? They went with a smaller group, and I was worried that with a smaller group they were going to try to run up and down, and then we were in a matchup problem because our two guys didn’t match up well.

“It was about who was going to exploit the matchup a little bit better.”

On their second possession of the game, the Bulldogs held the ball for almost two minutes as they looked for the best possible shot. Their search ended in a travel, and the Red Eddies went right down the court and scored a quick bucket.

Edward Little turned Portland’s misfortune into points over and over again and led 14-1 after one quarter. 

Portland was without Richard Greenwood and Kevin Smart. Smart being out was unexpected, Russo said, which threw off the Bulldogs’ game plan.

“The intent was not to not shoot, but to take good shots,” said Russo, whose team used stall tactics in an 18-16 loss to Windham last month. “I was looking at the 14-1 and said, ‘I’m not worried about the 14, that’s pretty good. The one isn’t good.’

“To hold them to 14 in the first quarter, I was pleased, but I didn’t count on getting just one point. It kind of went downhill from there.”

In the second quarter, Edward Little started to get out in transition and quickly pick apart the defense on the run. 

Austin Brown was surgical on offense in the second, tallying four of his seven assists in the quarter. Max Creaser scored four of his 16 points in the second, and Cam Yorke scored five of his 12, mostly on fast breaks. 

“We get the ball moving around and we play the way we play, it’s all uphill from there,” Creaser said. “We just keep scoring. It’s fun. We push the ball, see what happens and find the open guy.”

Eddies senior Storm Jipson finished the game with five dimes.

The Bulldogs tried holding the ball a bit more but failed to put the ball in the basket in the second quarter, and Edward Little finished the first half with a 33-1 cushion.

“When they went into the delay, it was the discipline of our guys to get five-second calls, keep the ball in front and just keep them in front and not let them get easy scores,” Adams said. “We hadn’t seen a delay this year, so we remained disciplined.” 

Portland finally scored from the field in the third quarter, and put up 12 points in the frame.

Wani Donato was the Bulldogs’ high scorer in the game with 11 points.

The Bulldogs didn’t have an answer of John Shea, Edward Little’s big man, who came back onto the court after early foul trouble and scored six points and grabbed three rebounds in the third quarter. 

“We are very fragile,” Russo said. “We did some nice things, but we are fragile and basically had a JV team out there. I was disappointed I couldn’t execute the game plan, not that I thought that it would’ve been the cure-all, but it would have been nice. I wanted to isolate Kevin and Richard under the hoop and make it a two-man game. We worked on it for two days, and all of the sudden no Richard and Kevin. I had no way of doing it.”

Yorke and Creaser both added six points each in the third while Edward Little kept up its intensity on defense. 

“We weren’t real happy with our defense at the end of the season, but I thought the boys really refocused this week, and we as coaches, that’s probably on us not preparing enough on that,” Adams said. “We did a good job this week in practice defensively, and the boys did a really good job tonight.”

The Red Eddies led 59-13 after three quarters, and started to bring in reserves  as they coasted to victory. 

“We wanted to close out the game strong and keep up the mentality we had in the first half by just staying the way we were defensively,” Creaser said. “In the first quarter, they had a stretch of a minute-and-a-half to two minutes with the ball, and we wanted to keep that mentality going all game.”

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