AUBURN — Edward Little slowed Oxford Hills’ high-powered offense and got another big offensive performance from John Shea in a 47-35 Class AA North boys basketball victory Tuesday.

After establishing a 27-19 lead at the half, the Red Eddies (8-1) leaned on Shea throughout the third and fourth quarters as they held off the Vikings.

The senior center took over on both ends of the court in the third, scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds while Edward Little grew its lead to 38-27 lead heading into the fourth.

At halftime coach said we have to stick to our strengths and what we do well,” Shea said. “I know what I do well: put the ball in the hoop down low, find my open teammates and clear people out and try to get my rebounds — try to do the best for the squad to keep that number one spot, basically.”

After Colby Dillingham’s layup pulled Oxford Hills (7-2) to within 38-29 with 6:55 to play, Shea hit a layup and was fouled. He struggled at the foul line Tuesday, shooting 4-for-10, but made this free throw to finish the three-point play and put the Eddies up 41-29 with six minutes to play.

Dillinghamm, who led the Vikings with 17 points, eventually fouled out with three minutes to play, and Edward Little held on for the victory.

We wanted the game to be fast, and we got some pressure, and every time we got it down to four or six points, we missed a shot and then they hit a layup,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “John Shea made the difference; he’s Mr. Basketball, as far as I am concerned.”

Shea finished with 31 points and 19 rebounds. It’s his seventh 30-point performance in nine games this season.

EDDIES START STRONG

Shea also was the catalyst early in the game, scoring 10 points as Edward Little jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the first quarter. His points came from behind the arc, at the free throw line and under the basket.

The Red Eddies’ lead reached 16-6 in the second quarter, but junior Eli Soehren’s (11 points) shooting got the Vikings back in the game.

Soehren scored seven of his nine first-half points in the second as Oxford Hills climbed to within four points, 21-17, with four minutes left in the first half. Dillingham helped out with a 3-pointer in the period.

Edward Little, though, got some of its lead back. Landon Cougle scored a layup after a swift pass from Shea to put the Red Eddies up 25-19 with 1:40 left in the quarter, then Shea added a layup on the next possession to make it 27-19 at halftime.

They weren’t making shots. I’m not sure if it was (an off) night for them, but I don’t think we did anything special defensively,” Edward Little coach Mike Adams said. “Pat Anthoine matches up well with Teigan (Pelletier), John matches well with Dillingham, Eli (St. Laurent) did a good job of keeping Cole (Pulkkinen) out of the paint, and that was a big goal for us because he’s really shifty and can create.

“We just tried to keep the ball in front of us and help. They run some stuff that no one else does that is effective for them, and I thought we did some things to limit their offensive opportunities. They’re a really good team, so that’s really important.”

Oxford Hills’ Elias Soehren is defended by Edward Little’s John Shea during Tuesday’s game in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

As they did in the teams’ season-opening matchup, won by Edward Little 66-65 on Dec. 10, the Vikings made the Red Eddies battle for the victory, holding them to their second-lowest scoring game of the season.

We opened with Oxford Hills, we’ve seen them play numerous times and they’re a tough, physical team,” Adams said. “They’re going to beat on you because they’re strong and athletic and they’re winners. We didn’t like how we played, but we liked that we didn’t get bullied. I liked our toughness in our kids, they did a really good job.”

Today, we just played hard,” Anthoine added. “That was our goal coming in. They’re a football-based school, they’re tough kids, and we had to battle back and we fought and showed our strength, and I think that’s what won us the game.”

Shea said that through nine games, the Red Eddies have shown how tough of team they are.

“We’re good,” Shea said. “A lot of teams don’t have respect for us, I feel, and starting the season off 8-1. I think we are showing teams that we are here to play. I don’t think a lot of teams really respected us at the beginning, and now they should be seeing that we’re the real deal.”

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