OAKLAND — For the second time in three days the Messalonskee High School boys basketball team saw an opportunity to seize a win pass it by in the fourth quarter.

After suffering a two-point loss to Hampden Academy in overtime Tuesday, the Eagles returned home Thursday and suffered a 64-57 loss to Edward Little in a game that was tied heading into the fourth quarter.

“We didn’t value our possessions,” Messalonskee coach Peter McLaughlin said. “When you take quick shots and we have a mismatch like we do on the inside, and we’re throwing passes up and we have unforced turnovers you’re not going to win against a caliber team like an Edward Little.

“It just came down to execution and ultimately we gave away too many possessions.”

The game saw each team spurt ahead of the other throughout, but at the start of the fourth quarter, the Red Eddies managed to surge ahead to a 52-46 lead on baskets from Kaleb Main, Luke Sterling and Elijah Roe.

A conventional three-point play from Jack Bernatchez with 4:18 remaining helped Messalonskee cut the deficit to 52-49, but on the ensuing possession, Ian Mileikis drew a foul and knocked down a pair of free throws.

From that point forward, the Eagles never got within a single possession thanks to an 8-for-10 performance from the free throw line in the final four minutes from Edward Little.

“(In the) second half our defensive principles kind of broke down a little bit and we started getting hectic instead of just being fundamentally sound,” McLaughlin said. “The other thing offensively was being patient, just making sure we’re valuing every possession and ultimately that’s why the game ended the way it did.”

Nick Mayo — the 6-foot-8 Eastern Kentucky University commit — finished with a season-low 13 points to go along 15 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

Edward Little employed a man-to-man defense that largely featured zone principles to ensure that there was always a defender helping over the top to prevent lob passes as well as a primary defender fronting Mayo.

“That’s basically what we’ve been seeing all along,” McLaughlin said. “They rotated a lot of different guys from Main to (Llewellyn) Jensen to Mileikis and it was pretty much just pinching on the back side man-to-man.

“They went a little bit of zone, they went to a 1-3-1 but more or less I don’t think it really bothered us.”

Even still, it proved to be effective as the Eagles struggled to get into their offense. Mileikis and Main drew the primary assignment of guarding Mayo in the first half, but after each picked up their fourth fouls in the third quarter Jensen stayed on Mayo for the remainder of the contest.

The foul trouble turned out to be in the Red Eddies’ favor, however, as Jensen held Mayo scoreless in the fourth.

“Lew had the flu a few days ago, he didn’t play against Mt. Blue, he wasn’t in school yesterday so I didn’t want to use him (on Mayo),” Edward Little coach Mike Adams said. “I wanted Lew’s offense and I didn’t think he could give us both tonight, but he did.”

With Mayo garnering so much attention from the Edward Little defense, Nathan Violette stepped in and had a strong game at the offensive end for the Eagles.

“He’s only a sophomore for us but he plays a much bigger role,” McLaughlin said. “He’s a heck of a basketball player. He’s matured by an enormous amount over the last year and we’re looking at him being an offensive threat when teams are doing that to Nick.”

Violette finished with 23 points, including eight as a part of a 14-4 run to open the third quarter that allowed Messalonskee to take a 44-37 advantage.

Ultimately though, it would not be enough. The Red Eddies closed the third on a 9-2 run to tie the game and take control in the fourth.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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