LEWISTON — As a first-year varsity head coach, Lynn Girouard of Lewiston can rest assured that she’ll never see her team struggle to shoot the ball as mightily as it did Tuesday night, ever again.
Already facing an uphill climb against reigning Class A East champion Oxford Hills, Lewiston dug itself a canyon by connecting at a 2-for-32 clip in the first half and 7-of-61 (11.5 percent) overall.
Even while enjoying arguably their best defensive game of the young KVAC campaign, the Blue Devils fell hard, 39-19.
“I think we had a cover over the basket. Four points in the first half? I don’t think that’s ever happened,” Girouard said. “It was rough. We definitely created some turnovers. We just could not get it up over the rim.”
Most of the misses, frustratingly, were layups, with Lewiston (1-5) successfully pounding the ball inside but coming up empty.
It essentially gave Oxford Hills (4-2) a free pass when the Vikings weren’t much warmer, and minus their Big Three for much of the night.
Tianna Sugars remains injured and out of the lineup, while Mikayla Morin and Anna Winslow — who were hobbled at the start of the season and are still working their way into shape — each sat down with two fouls before the end of the first quarter.
“I had two very good players sitting the whole first half, and I’ll commend all the players that came in,” Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier said. “They built a lead for us, and that’s what has to happen. (Morin, Winslow and Sugars) being injured the first of the year, these kids are used to playing, so they just come in and know what’s going on.”
Erin Morton hit two of her three 3-pointers in the first half and finished with a game-high 13 points for the Vikings. Winslow wound up with nine points and nine rebounds.
Oxford Hills shot 13-for-56 (23.2 percent) from the floor and 9-for-18 (50 percent) from the line. Through it all, the Vikings led 20-4 at the half and never saw the lead slip below 13 thereafter.
“We pressured their guards the way that I wanted us to. Our shots just wouldn’t go in,” Girouard said. “It would have been different if we had made some of those in the beginning. We’ve always struggled with the little bunnies under the basket, but we’ve got to get through that hurdle. We had some wide open that just would not fall.”
Lewiston forced 25 Oxford Hills turnovers. Kristina Blais bolstered the Blue Devils with six steals.
Amanda Swart and Gabby Barrett led Lewiston with five points apiece.
Winslow’s inside bucket, a Morin fastbreak hoop and a Morton 3-pointer vaulted the Vikings to a 7-0 lead out of the gate. The Devils missed their first 10 shots before Alasia Branche’s steal led to Blais’ basket with 1:55 to go in the quarter.
“I wasn’t really impressed with our defense in the first half, because they were getting a lot of good shots that just weren’t falling,” Pelletier said. “But that said, I thought we rebounded well out of it.”
Pelletier praised the play of Ally Hanley, who hit a pair of second-quarter free throws and ended the night with five rebounds, all on the defensive glass.
“Some of those minutes she got in the first half, she probably wouldn’t have gotten if we hadn’t been in foul trouble,” he said. “The second half, she was playing the whole time because she was playing so well. We tell the kids every day, ‘Who’s going to step it up?’ and she did, maybe not in terms of scoring, but defensive intensity and taking control of the ball.”