Bangor held Edward Little without a field goal for over five minutes in the fourth quarter and rode clutch shooting from Matt Fleming to a 56-52 win over Edward Little in the Class AA North final Friday night at Cross Insurance Arena.

Fleming had 27 points, including five 3-pointers, and 11 rebounds. Damien Vance added 12 points for the top-ranked Rams (19-2). Wol Maiwen of second-seeded Edward Little (18-3) had 23 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and four blocks. Max Creaser had 19 points.

“We preach defense. That’s our main focus. It has been all year,” said Fleming, whose team held the Eddies to 39 percent shooting. “(We were) getting in the passing lanes, making it tougher for shooters to shoot.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of them and how they stuck together,” first-year Bangor coach Brad Libby said. “Edward Little’s a great team. They made a run there and cut it to two, but we stuck together and we fought.”

Bangor will face Bonny Eagle in the state final at 9:05 p.m. March 2 at Cross Insurance Arena.

The Eddies trailed by as much as 17 in the second half but gradually gained momentum through the third quarter and into the start the fourth. Creaser’s jumper with 5:59 left made it 44-38 and highlighted an 8-2 run to start the fourth, but it was their last field goal for an agonizing stretch.

“That’s been us all year,” Edward Little Coach Mike Adams said of his team’s shooting woes. “We’ve had long stretches against good teams of not scoring.”

Edward Little forced five turnovers in the first three minutes of the fourth, and Creaser and Maiwen each hit a pair of free throws to make it 44-42 Rams with 5:01 left.

Everything seemed to go the Eddies’ way when Vance fouled out a short time later.

“The first thing that went through my mind was we’re losing our second-best scorer and a dynamic guard,” Libby said. “But I have all of the trust in the world in these guys. It’s been all year long that if it wasn’t one guy’s night then the next guy stepped up.”

The Eddies couldn’t convert on the opportunity to tie or go ahead, then Fleming drove for a three-point play with 3:52 remaining that sparked an 8-1 Bangor run.

Cam Yorke’s 3-pointer ended Edward Little’s shooting drought and made it 52-46 with 54 seconds to go. But Bangor went 10 of 11 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.

Bangor got Fleming going early; he was responsible for four points in a 6-0 run to start the game. His seven points in the quarter helped the Rams open a 13-7 cushion.

But Fleming was just getting started. He sparked a 7-0 run to start the second quarter with five points, including a 3-pointer that made it 20-7.

“Bangor shot the ball really, really well,” Adams said. “Fleming showed why he’s one of the best players if not the best player in the state, skill-wise. But beyond that I was wicked proud of our kids. They showed a lot of toughness and grit.”

“Our goal the whole game was to attack Wol,” Fleming said. “We wanted him in foul trouble. He didn’t sit as much as we wished but he wasn’t guarding me the whole game. They switched someone else on me. So they were very cautious about him getting fouls.”

Edward Little rode a quick spurt from Maiwen that included a steal he converted into a dunk, and a fall-away jumper that closed the margin to 22-17. But the Rams ran off the last nine points of the half on a 3-pointer by Isaac Cummnings and two treys from Fleming, who finished with 11 points in the quarter and 18 in the half, to take a 31-17 lead into halftime.


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