Middle school Vikings undefeated this season

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7th GRADE BOYS — Oxford Hills Middle School Boys Basketball team, back, from left, Teigan Pelletier, Tanner Bickford, Brendon Palmer, Wyatt Cooper, Holden Shaw, Lincoln Merrill, Trey Morrison, Eli Soehren and Ayden Dellimeter. Front, Bryce Attkinson, Kolby Brown, Cole Pulkkinen, Jordan Edwards, Thomas Richards, Zack Corbett, Mekhi Hill and Bronsyn Grant. (Photo by Brewster Burns)

OXFORD HILLS — The future of both girls and boys basketball looks bright in Oxford Hills.

The Oxford Middle School 7th grade Boys and Girls went indefeated this season.

In addition to both Varsity Teams hosting home playoff games this week, success has also been evident throughout the foundational younger levels. This has been most evident with both the 7th grade Boys and Girls Middle School Vikings which finished the season with a combined 20 wins and 0 losses.

A successful feeder system is essential to varsity success and at the Middle School level, players not only develop individual skills necessary to improve in basketball, but it also helps these young student athletes develop lifelong skills such as perseverance, determination, motivation and commitment.

Both head coaches Lynn Wheeler and Mark Soehren recently reflected on their perfect seasons.

“This 2017/2018 season was a terrific one,” said Wheeler. “I like working with beginner level players and teaching the game and skills needed. I was fortunate this year and had some talented 7th grade basketball players that had strong basic skills for their age. I had a full team of 15 players this year and due to the strengths of half of my players, this allowed me to balance out the stronger players amongst the players just learning the game. That allowed for some good continued flow of the game that helped all players. With such a great group of kids to work with, it makes my job so much fun.”

“The 7th grade boys basketball team is a group of incredibly hard working and coachable athletes,” Soehren added. “They both practiced and played hard everyday and were excellent competitors. They are a very close team and you could see how unselfish they were and they played for each other.”

While progress often goes beyond wins and losses, the season was productive for both coaches regarding the development of players.

“Kilie LaPlante and Tori Hall are players that I feel improved the most this season,” noted Wheeler. “Kilie’s level of confidence definitely increased as the season went on. She is one of the most coachable players. She not only listens to what you are saying to her. but she also listens and adapts to what others are getting for instruction and applies it.

“She hustles, sprinted up the floor in transitions and played three different positions. Tori also gained confidence as a point guard this season. She began driving to the basket and shooting more. Tori always gave it her all when she was on the court in practices and games.”

Soehren added, “All of the players really improved this season, but both Holden Shaw and Ayden Delameter showed a high level of growth. Each really made a point to listen to coaching and watch what was going on each game in order to become better basketball players. They will be successful someday because of their attention to detail and listening skills.”

No one can remember a year when both genders from the same grade went undefeated.

“It’s not been the norm,” Oxford Hills Basketball Coach Scott Graffam reflected. “This year’s Junior boys went undefeated their 8th grade year, as did the current Sophomore girls, but never the same class in the same year. Both 7th grade classes should be proud of their accomplishments. Both the boys and girls have had such good coaching throughout their younger years.”

Wheeler expanded on Graffam’s comments saying, “I was able to put players in two or three different positions on the court. That was a terrific asset this year as a team and even better for the players to have the opportunity to play different roles and challenge them to be a better player. Towards the end of the season I could see the girls starting to put everything we have been working on all together and that is such a great feeling as a coach.”

Soehren concluded, “Winning is fun, but at this level I really like to focus on improving their basic skills in order to prepare them for High School basketball. I will enjoy watching this group grow in the years to come.”

7th GRADE GIRLS — Oxford Hills Middle School 7th Grade Girls Basketball team, back, from left, Head Coach Lynn Wheeler, Stephanie Jewell, Wynter Smith, Kirsten Coombs, Maddy Stack, Sierra Carson, Delaney Stone, Kille LaPlante and Molly Corbett. Front, Tori Hall, Skylar Truman, Carlee Cash, Kaylin Danforth, Ashley Richardson, Lilly Pierce and Haley Hall. (Photo by Brewster Burns)