AUBURN — The summer league playoff final between Edward Little and Leavitt felt like a late-January hoops battle between two teams gearing up for the playoffs.

Fans packed the stands at Edward Little High School and saw the Red Eddies stave off a down-to-the-wire challenge by Hornets and earn a 39-35 victory in the first Dubois Edward Little Summer League championship Wednesday.

Both teams’ coaches said the competitive nature of the summer league’s playoffs should pay dividends during the upcoming winter season.

“It was great. We’ve never had playoffs with this before,” Edward Little coach Mike Adams said. “Where it was our first one. We wanted to win because it’s in our gym. We started the summer off not playing good at all. Seeing the improvement was a direct correlation with how they’ve worked in practice. Leavitt, they’re really good, real strong and they do what they do well. We aren’t very big. It was a bit of a worry. Playing in the back-to-back games, we learned how some of our guys would respond; and some of our guys have never been in this situation before, so it was a really good, important day for us.”

The Eddies and Hornets reached the final by winning semifinal games earlier in the day — Leavitt beat Lewiston and Edward Little topped Yarmouth.

“It was really important for us,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said of the playoffs. “For one, we’ve got a little bit of a different look this year and we lost a lot of our points from last year, so we are trying to figure some things out. The summer league, Mike always does a good job with that, but the finish was great for us. We had a great win over Brunswick the other day in the quarters, a great win over Lewiston and a good battle with EL, so we are playing good teams and playing well at the finish.”

Late in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s championship matchup, Leavitt’s Ben Sirois scored a layup on a fast break to cut the deficit to four points, 36-32, with 3:40 left to in the game. A minute later, Dragan Jordan blocked Edward Little’s John Shea to keep the Hornets within reach.

With 1:35 remaining, Sawyer Hathaway hit two free throws to pull Leavitt to within two. But that was the comeback’s last gasp. Moments later, Shea finished off a fast break with a layup with six seconds left on the clock, and then he hit a free throw a second later to finish off the Hornets and give the Red Eddies the win and the title.

“We talked about Katie Ledecky today, who lost in the 400 in swimming at the Olympics but came back and won the 1,500 when she could have quit,” Adams said. “It was about overcoming adversity and not feeling sorry for yourself. There were a couple times today where we could have given up. I am really proud of our kids, win or lose, and it was great to end the summer that way.”

After a two-man approach in Wednesday’s semifinal, during which Patrick Anthoine and Shea scored most of the team’s points, carried Edward Little to a win over Yarmouth, the Leavitt defense forced other Red Eddies to get involved in the title game. Edward Little also had to weather the Hornets’ tough and physical defense.

“My goal was to get my teammates open and more shots,” Anthoine said. “I have confidence in every single one of them, on the bench and on the floor, that they can make a shot. Our key is ball movement. We want to swing the ball, reverse, get the ball in and get as many good looks as we can.”

Shea scored nine of his team-high 11 in the second half, while Anthoine added nine. Marshall Adams also scored nine points, all from 3-pointers and all in the second half, for the Red Eddies.

“One thing we tried to stress to our team was if we play individually we will lose,” Mike Adams said. “If we use each other’s strengths — if someone takes John away, we have to use each other and trust each other. It’s not basketball today, not AAU ball, not NBA basketball, but that’s what we have to do. We start with John, but we have four or five guys that can score 20. They might not score, but they have to understand that they helped the other guy score 20.”

Hunter Hayes led Leavitt with 11 points, followed by eight from Sirois and six from Brett Coburn.

“They don’t surprise me with their effort or toughness,” Mike Hathaway said. “That’s who they are. Today, I thought we took good care of the ball. Defensively, I thought we did well against John and their shooters.”

SEMIFINALS

LEAVITT 35, LEWISTON 31: The Hornets survived the Blue Devils’ comeback bid to earn a spot in the championship.

Leavitt went scoreless for 10 minutes, its drought starting in the first half and extending into the second, but clutch scoring from Hunter Hayes in the final minutes carried the Hornets to victory.

Hayes finished with 10 points. Five of those were scored in the final few minutes, including two free throws with 4.5 seconds left that sealed the game.

Leavitt’s Sawyer Hathaway added nine points, all in the first half.

The Blue Devils also struggled to score during Leavitt’s scoreless stretch but kept themselves within reach. Yusuf Dakane led the Blue Devils with nine points.

EDWARD LITTLE 55, YARMOUTH 41: After trailing at the half, the Red Eddies took control in the second half, thanks to the sharp-shooting of Patrick Anthoine and the powerful inside play of John Shea, and pulled away from the Clippers in the second semifinal.

Shea scored 24 points, 17 of which came in a dominant second half. Anthoine scored 14 of his 22 in the first half to keep the Red Eddies in the game.

Yarmouth was led by Peter Psygogeos’ 19 points, while Matt Waeldner contributed nine.


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