FAIRFIELD — Lawrence High School’s Folsom Gym is a loud place on an average night. When the Bulldogs host one of the top teams in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, as they did Friday night when Edward Little of Auburn came to town, Folsom gets even louder.
“I’ve talked about playing in this game for 12 years. Kids come down and the place is packed for the JV game. You just can’t emulate it or get into kids’ heads how hard they play, how tough they play defensively,” Edward Little coach Mike Adams said.
Lawrence fed off the noise and emotion, starting the game strong. The Bulldogs finished the game strong, too, and in between, held off a Red Eddies rally to take a 67-53 win. Lawrence is now 9-1, while Edward Little is 8-1.
The Bulldogs played without head coach Mike McGee, who served a one-game suspension for getting two technical fouls in Lawrence’s last game. Assistant coach Jason Pellerin served as interim head coach.
“I think the kids really came out focused. They had a great energy and a great intensity to them. It started in the JV game. I could see it in their eyes,” Pellerin said.
Added junior guard Xavier Lewis, who scored a game-high 25 points: “We wanted to get it for (McGee) and we wanted to get it for our home crowd, too. We want to go 9-0 this season on our home court… We had to step up tonight. Big game. It was such a team effort. Everyone made shots tonight.”
Lawrence came out flying on both ends of the court, taking a 16-2 lead after one quarter. Edward Little committed six turnovers in the first quarter.
“We score two points in the first quarter just by not taking care of the basketball,” Adams said. “A big part of that was their defense. They took us out of everything we wanted to do.”
Lewis played strong defense on the point and his peskiness help prevent the Eddies from finding an offensive rhythm for much of the game. When Lawrence pulled away in the fourth quarter, Lewis was a key reason. His defensive effort, often getting a hand on the ball and starting the Bulldogs in transition, helped spark Lawrence’s 12-6 run over the final four minutes.
“Xavier’s got quick hands. He’s pretty crafty. He’s heady. He kind of picks his spots and he picks big moments to make big plays. When we went on our run, I bet he had three or four tips. He’s a baller,” Pellerin said.
Added Adams: “It was everybody. (Lewis’) pressure on the exterior and Spencer Carey’s pressure on the interior, we couldn’t get any good looks into Quin (Leary).”
While Edward Little never took the lead, the Eddies did make a run. Nate Alexander’s free throw with 3:37 left in the third quarter cut Lawrence’s lead to 32-31. Edward Little was successful getting baskets off inbounds plays, something Lawrence expected.
“We talked about it all week long. We talked about sagging. We talked about the switching. We just got caught maybe being a little over aggressive up top and they’d just curl off that and go to the hoop,” Pellerin said. “They banged a couple 3s off out of bounds plays. Hey, they’re a good team and they’re well-coached.”
With every Edward Little run, the Bulldogs answered. Lawrence closed the third quarter with a 13-8 run to take a 45-39 lead in the fourth quarter.
“Basketball is a game of runs. We were ready for that. Coach (Pellerin) was telling us they’re going to make their runs. At halftime, he told us it was time to make our run,” Lewis said.
Four players scored in double figures for Lawrence. Spencer Carey had 12 points, while Nick Noiles and Mason Travers each scored 11.
After a scoreless first quarter, Leary scored a team-high 16 points for Edward Little. Sean Ford added 15 points for the Red Eddies.
Lawrence made 6 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“This year, we haven’t really been known for closing out our games. Teams get back into it, but we were mentally focused and ready for this one,” Lewis said.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242