SOUTH PARIS — During the timeout in the closing seconds of regulation Wednesday, Nate Pelletier looked over at Crystal West and told her she was going to deliver the win for Oxford Hills.
Apparently, he didn’t mean right then and there.
West never got the try at the winning shot late in regulation, but she drilled a pair of crucial 3’s in overtime to lead the Vikings to a 52-48 overtime win over Edward Little.
“I told her on that last play that she was going to win the game for us,” said Pelletier. “It just happened in overtime instead of regulation.”
Oxford Hills (5-2) would have settled for either. The victory bounced the Vikings up the Eastern A standings, putting them ahead of the Red Eddies (5-2).
“It’s a big win,” said West, a junior guard. “We haven’t beaten them in like, two years. We’ve been working hard in practice. We knew it was a big game for us, and we had to go out and give it all we had.”
All of West’s points came in overtime. Tianna Sugars led the Vikings with 15 while Merrissa Scarborough added 10. Abbie Eastman added eight. EL got 14 from Ashlee Arnold and 12 from Kory Norcross. Kate Sawyer added nine.
“This team has developed so much,” Pelletier said. “We see it in practice how good they can be. It’s a matter of them showing people. Now, they’re starting to learn that in close games, we can win.”
The game featured less-than-stellar officiating. There were nearly 40 fouls called, not including a technical given to Pelletier midway through the first quarter for saying, “That’s not a travel.” It forced both teams to use its bench and juggle the lineups. EL fouled out two, including Arnold. EL had three other players nursing three fouls. The Vikings fouled out one and had two others with three late in the game.
The foul-fest helped EL, especially in the final quarter. EL sank its first 21 free throws and finished 23-for-26 from the line. All of Arnold’s points came from the line and 11 of the Red Eddies 13 points in the fourth quarter were foul shots.
“We were down 37-31 and they were taking the air out of the ball,” said EL coach Craig Jipson. “We showed some great composure down the stretch and came back to take the lead.”
EL erased the deficit and tied it with two Kate Sawyer free throws with 1:25 left. The Vikings had missed chances to pad the lead from the line in the final minutes. Then with 1:14 left, Eastman appeared to be bumped in the backcourt. After watching numerous hand-check and body contact fouls called, Viking fans were livid as no foul was whistled, and Norcross managed to steal the loose ball and put EL up 42-40. Eastman tied the game with 30 seconds left on a drive to the basket.
EL had a chance to take the lead, but a Tianna Harriman 3 that swished through with three seconds remaining was waived off for a travel call. The Vikings had a chance with three seconds left, but a Sugars shot didn’t drop.
Though Oxford Hills missed some key shots and free throws late in regulation, the Vikings got them in overtime. West hit one 16 seconds in. Then EL got an Eraleena Hairston basket with 1:19 left to close the gap to 47-46. West then drilled her second 3 with 40 seconds remaining.
“I knew I just needed to keep shooting and they’d go in eventually,” West said. “They went in when it counted.”
Oxford Hills also got key free throws from Eastman and Sugars in overtime to maintain the lead.
“We had two chances at layups starting in overtime with freshmen and sophomores and we missed them,” said Jipson, whose team was without forward Brooke Reynolds due to disciplanary reasons and had to rely on younger players in larger roles. “We missed wide open layups. That’s going to happen.”
EL hit just three of 11 shots in overtime, 6-for-23 in the second half and overtime. The Vikings were 2-for-4 in overtime and 4-for-7 in the fourth from the floor.
“It’s a long season but they’re going to win 13 or 14 games,” said Pelletier. “That’s huge for us.”