Edward Little’s John Shea is fouled as he tries to shoot against Portland on Thursday at the Portland Expo. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald

Prepare all you like, there’s just no stopping Edward Little senior center John Shea.

Shea scored 18 points in the first half and the Red Eddies took an eight-point lead over Portland on Thursday afternoon at the Portland Expo.

Portland made a second-half run and got within a point, but Shea came up huge time and again with the game on the line, finishing with 38 points and 13 rebounds to lead Edward Little to a 47-41 victory.

“Shea is very difficult to cover even though we knew exactly what he was going to do,” said Bulldogs Coach Joe Russo. “He has great footwork, he knows how to get position and he can score.”

Portland (4-2) got off to a promising start when Aiden Christensen scored the first five points of the game. Shea, however, began to take over down low and the Bulldogs lead was 11-8 after the first quarter.

Edward Little (5-1) then went on a 10-0 run to start the second to take the lead for good. After dominating inside all half, Shea stepped out and drained a 3-pointer to give Edward Little a 23-15 halftime lead.

“I have four teammates on the perimeter who free me up pretty well,” said Shea, who scored 13 points in the second quarter. “They get me open.”

Portland junior guard Pitia Donato then single-handedly led his team back in the third quarter, scoring 12 points, including a reverse layup at the horn to cut the Red Eddies’ advantage to 33-31.

Shea started the fourth with a layup, but a 3-pointer from Pepito Girumugisha pulled the Bulldogs within one.

Hamza Sheikh answered by taking a pass from Shea and hitting a short jumper, then Shea added a layup and made two free throws to help close it out.

“It’s always going to be physical going against teams like Portland who have long, athletic kids who know how to play basketball,” said Shea, who is still weighing his college options. “It’s fun to play against teams like that that give us great competition.”

Edward Little Coach Mike Adams said that Shea’s commitment to improving has been steady, even during the pandemic.

“When COVID first hit, (John) was one of the first people who said he was going to lose weight and get in better shape,” Adams said.

“He takes up so much space and uses his body well and the more we use him, it allows our guards to do what they do well.”

Donato scored 18 points for Portland, while Spencer Cross finished with eight. The Bulldogs missed six of eight free throws and their late rally wasn’t quite enough.

“We prepared for (Shea) a couple different ways, but we didn’t execute what we needed to do,” Russo said. “Pitia got us back in the game, but we couldn’t make enough shots.

“It was an exciting game for the fans, but not as much fun for the losing team.”

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