When Edward Little boys basketball coach Mike Adams calls out “23,” it means the same thing as when Mt. Blue coach Jim Bessey says it.

“A lot of their style is similar to ours,” Bessey said.

That stands to reason. Adams played for Bessey at Mt. Blue, winning the state’s Mr. Basketball in 1990, and he coached with the Cougars before taking over the Red Eddies more than a decade ago.

“A lot of it is similar, but it’s far enough removed where we each do our own thing, too,” Adams said.

No. 3 Mt. Blue (15-4) will face No. 7 Edward Little (12-7) in the Eastern Class A semifinals at 7 tonight at the Augusta Civic Center. The other semifinal game features No. 5 Bangor (14-5) against No. 1 Hampden (18-1).

An Edward Little win puts it in the regional championship game for the fifth consecutive year. Mt. Blue is playing for its first trip to the Eastern Class A championship game since 1997, when it won the Eastern Maine title.

When Edward Little played Mt. Blue in Farmington in January, the Cougars were without point guard Eric Berry, who had an ankle injury.

The Cougars led by as much as 20 points in the second quarter before pulling out a 58-50 win.

“We’ve got to handle their pressure,” Adams said. “With their transition offense, they’ll make you pay the other way.”

Mt. Blue has one of the top frontcourts in the state, with seniors Cam Sennick (16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds per game) and Nick Hilton (16.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg). Both named first team all-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference North, Sennick and Hilton combined for 49 points in the Cougars’ 72-47 quarterfinal win over Brunswick.

Stopping Sennick, or at least making things hard on him, is a key for the Red Eddies defense, Adams said.

“We need to make (Sennick) work hard for everything he gets,” Adams said. “We need to try and keep him off the boards.”

In the regular season, Mt. Blue led the KVAC in scoring, averaging 62.8 points per game. Edward Little was third in the league in scoring defense, allowing 45.4 points per game.

“They’re very good defensively,” Bessey said. “They’ll try and double (team) in the post some.”

Edward Little found its shooting touch in the second half of their come-from-behind 60-52 quarterfinal win over No. 2 Lewiston. Quinn Leary, who led the Eddies with 16.1 points per game in the regular season, scored 16 points, while Sean Ford added 18. Omar Haji-Hersi, who scored 15 against Mt. Blue in the regular-season game, also is a scoring threat.

“It’s going to come down to who can execute their offense better,” Bessey said.

Hampden beat Bangor twice this season, 56-48 in the season opener and 42-39. Christian McCue, the KVAC North co-Player of the Year with Sennick, averages 17.2 points for Hampden. Bangor is led by Patrick Stewart (12.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg).

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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