For a moment, the Vikings saw their rematch with Brunswick take a sudden turn for the worse. Their lead disappeared and starting forward Anna Winslow was on the bench with three fouls. Brunswick had built a six-point lead.
“She’s a key player for us,” junior guard Mikayla Morin said. “She’s a starter. She’s averaging 20 points per game. So she’s definitely a loss when she’s not out on the court with us. We had some players come off the bench help fill her spot enough to get us through the first half.”
The Vikings did more than simply survive that second quarter. Oxford Hills rallied from behind with a late surge to take the lead and barely looked back in the second half for a 57-42 win over the Dragons.
“It’s always tough when your leading scorer is in foul trouble early,” Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier said. “We talked to the girls about it. That’s what good teams do. Good teams can overcome these obstacles. Other people have to step up and tonight we did have other people step up.”
Morin led the Vikings (13-4) with 18 points. Winslow still managed 11 for the Vikings. Tianna Sugars had nine while Crystal West added six. Brunswick (9-8) got 12 from Julia Champagne. Lyse Henshaw added eight for the Dragons.
The Vikings are seeded third currently in Eastern A and are likely to finish there after Thursday’s game at Mt. Blue. Brunswick was ranked fifth. The Dragons soundly beat the Vikings in their first meeting, 49-22.
Brunswick was up 20-14 Tuesday after eight straight points to open the second quarter. Winslow picked up her third foul three minutes in.
Morin scored and West followed with a 3 to get the Vikings within one. After a Henshaw leaner, West hit another 3 to tie it at 22-22 with 3:56 left. Kolby Levesque’s 3 put the Brunswick back ahead but it was the last lead for the Dragons. Morin answered with a 3 of her own and the Vikings finished the half with nine straight. After two free throws by Ally Hanley, Brooke Murch and Sugars each scored in the post for a 31-25 lead.
“There was some energy to beat them the second time around,” Morin said. “We’re now figuring out where people are going to be in certain situations, and we’re playing as a team. We finished the shots when we needed to.”
Oxford Hills came out strong in the second half and built the lead up to as many as 14. Winslow had six straight during that quarter to make it 40-26. Brunswick missed its first six shots and went just 3-for-11 in the third.
“In previous games, we’ve had the lead at halftime and come out in the third quarter and we’ve been flat,” Morin said. “Coach has really been adamant with us to come out strong in the third quarter. I think doing some layups at halftime and getting our blood flowing again was a key to us continuing our momentum in the third quarter.”
Brunswick made a late run in the third with five points from Champagne and a basket by Gillian Doehring to get within 40-33 after three.
Morin opened the four with a three-point play. After a basket by Sugars, Murch hit a free throw and Morin converted a steal to make it 48-33. The Vikings hit six of their first eight shots of the fourth.
“Those six shots were right where we needed them, in the paint and on fast breaks,” Pelletier said. “If we come down and we start jacking 3’s and we’re not making them, that’s not what we’re looking for. We want to be able to use our height inside and then kick out.”
The Dragons missed its first 12 shots of the fourth and finished 2-for-14 in the quarter and 5-for-25 in the second half.
“Our length defensively hurts teams,” said Pelletier, whose team has a number of defenders with height, long arms and quick feet. “We play a 2-3 zone, but it’s an extended 2-3 zone and an aggressive 2-3 zone. The girls have bought into it all year. Our goal is to keep teams under 40 points, and we’re pretty close to that right now.”