Standing on the block, waiting for a shot to roll off the rim, is something Colby relishes. She may be boxed out initially, but it may not be for long.
“My favorite position to be in is to be rebounding for my team on a foul shot,” Colby said. “I love that. I feel like I have the advantage even though they’re closer.”
Colby had a pair of crucial offensive rebounds on missed free throws down the stretch Thursday. She added two critical free throws of her own that helped the Vikings outlast Brunswick, 35-32.
The game was won at the free throw line in the final minutes. Shannon Kriger broke a 30-30 tie with two free throws with 45 seconds left. Colby made it a three-point game with a pair from the line. After two free throws by Gillian Doehring with 13 second left, Kriger finished the game off with a pair with one second remaining.
“Shannon had an amazing game today getting rebounds,” Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier said. “Every time we’d get a rebound, they had two players on her. She outlet the ball really well. Jayden had two offensive rebounds that were huge when we were missing free throws. Every single kid, I felt, had a part in that win, which is good. You like close games that you win because you learn something from it.”
Mikayla Morin returned to action and led the Vikings (2-2) with nine points. It was her first game of the regular season. Kriger and Erin Eastman each had seven while Colby finished with six.
“What Mikayla gave us tonight was huge,” said Pelletier, who opened the year without Morin, Anna Winslow and Tiana Sugars in the lineup because of injuries. Sugars is still out and expected back in a few weeks. “She’s not even close to 100 percent, but she’s sick of watching. She wanted to get out there and play.”
Brunswick got six from Doehring and five points each from Emily Black, Julia Champagne, Kolby Levesque and Margaret Dickinson.
“That was a game where you hope every kid can contribute and every kid did,” Brunswick coach Sam Farrell said. “Levesque hit some big shots. Maddy Suhr had some big rebounds.”
The Vikings battled foul trouble for much of the game. Though Morin made her debut, she wasn’t in the lineup with Winslow for long stretches because of foul trouble. Winslow eventually fouled out and Morin had three fouls.
“When we did have them together, that’s when we got the lead in the first half,” Pelletier said. “Anna sat for most of the second quarter because she was in foul trouble. The fouls are what they are. They called a lot of fouls on both teams. My kids have to be able to adapt to that.”
Brunswick had rallied to get within 28-24 after three. The Dragons then scored six straight to open the fourth and take a 30-28 lead. The Vikings tied the game with 3:41 left on a Morin rebound.
Kriger broke the tie with a free throw with less than a minute left. On her second free throw, she missed but Colby grabbed the offensive board and preserved the Viking possession. The Vikings had the chance to add to the lead but Morin missed a pair of free throws. On her second miss, Colby got the boards. She was fouled and made it 33-30 with 37 seconds left. The Vikings missed eight free throws in the final quarter.
“I was nervous,” Colby said of her two free throws. “It was the first time I’ve been in that situation. That’s what needed to happen. I was luck enough to get it done.”
Brunswick drew a foul with 13 seconds left and Doehring’s two free throw got the Dragons within 33-32. Brunswick nearly forced a turnover but Doehring couldn’t control the ball after a steal. It went out of bounds, giving the Vikings possession. Kriger was fouled seconds later and sank both with one second left.
“The second half was nothing about the plays we were running or the defense we were running,” Farrell said. “It was all heart. We were there. A couple bounced go our way or a couple of calls go our way, who knows what happens at the end.”
The Vikings had opened a 22-9 lead in the second quarter. Despite Winslow nursing foul trouble, Oxford Hills scored eight straight during a 10-2 run to finish the half. Eastman had five points in the second while Colby had a pair of baskets. Erin Morton and Maighread Laliberte also scored.
“We have a lot of young players,” said Colby. “We’re a lot deeper than we have been in the past. Our young players are maturing well. With all the injuries, we have to step up.”
Brunswick started to be more aggressive in the second half. Though the Vikings were up by as many as 14, the Dragons rallied with 10 straight to finish the third. Champagne, Doehring and Levesque all hit 3’s.
“We started to move,” Farrell said. “The first half, we weren’t moving without the ball very well. If you go and stand next tho their zone, it’s a heck of a zone.”
Brunswick took the lead to open the fourth. Levesque hit a jumper. Black scored inside and Suhr hit a baseline jumper for a 30-28 lead with 4:05 left.
“They hit some 3 that hurt us,” said Pelletier. “I’m not saying that we panicked. We just weren’t making shots and they were, and they climbed back in it.”