PARIS — With the last quarter of the basketball season underway, the Oxford Hills Lady Vikings offense and defense was clicking on all cylinders with a 54-41 win at home vs. #3 seed Gorham and an 86-41 road victory over the Bangor Rams.
The match up pitted the #3 seed in Class AA South Gorham Rams traveling to Oxford Hills, who are #3 seed in Class AA North. The winner of this game would continue to climb the rankings within their conference, which this year results in more home court playoff games and a higher seed with the upcoming playoffs. The loser, would fall to #4 in their conference and face an uphill battle with just five games left on the season.
The positive development of the Lady Vikings was evident in the game, as the team implemented both a full-court trapping press and half-court pressure. The new schemes against Gorham were essential, especially in preventing pre-season All-State player Mackenzie Holmes from having her way against the Vikings. The 6-foot-2-inch Holmes is having a spectacular season, and after being part of last years State Championship team, is being recruited by a variety of major colleges.
The game got off to a quick start, with senior Maighread Laliberte scoring six points in the first quarter and Julz Colby, Cassidy Dumont and Maggie Hartnett all adding a basket each. Midway through the first quarter, the Vikings switched to put full-court pressure on Gorham, who seemed surprise by the flurry of activity and committed five of its 13 turnovers on the night and only managed four points.
“The first quarter really set the tone for the game and it made Gorham play at our pace rather than set up an offense and get the ball into Holmes,” explained Viking head coach Nate Pelletier. “Our girls did a great job of forcing the tempo. When you can have Cecelia Dieterich and Brooke Carson putting pressure on the ball, you can get in a lot of passing lanes and make some steals which leads to fast break points.”
The second quarter proved to again be a defensive showcase, as both teams forced turnovers on three consecutive possessions, before Julz Colby would break the ice with the first of two three-point shots in the quarter.
The Vikings would continue their strong defense and go into half with a 32-16 lead. “I was very pleased with the first half,” commented Pelletier. “The fact that Maighread got off to a fast start scoring and then Julz contributing so significantly, really helped our offense get into a flow. When Maighread scores early, it makes us so multi-dimensional.”
Despite the lead, the second half proved tough for the Vikings, who just a week before had let a 36-30 halftime lead slip away to the #1 Class A Greely team. “We knew they would make adjustments and find a way to get the ball to Holmes,” replied Pelleiter. The Vikings adjusted as well, often doubling Holmes in the paint, taking charges and forcing turnovers that Gorham doesn’t normally make.
Gorham would make one six-point run in the third quarter, but quickly ran out of energy as the Vikings continued subbing 10 girls deep and creating pressure on their way to a 13-point win. On offense, Colby would finish with 16 points, Hartnett with 12 and Laliberte scored 10 to lead the way.
“Our girls played so hard,” Pelletier concluded. “When we play like that, we can play with anybody.”
The Lady Vikings go on the road to Cheverus and Edward Little on Tuesday and Thursday before returning home on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. to face Leavitt.