Vikings strike back

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BRUNSWICK – Life appeared pretty easy Saturday afternoon as the Brunswick Dragons opened their basketball matinee.

It was a little too easy as far as Nate Pelletier was concerned. So the Oxford Hills girls’ basketball coach called a timeout just 1:25 into the game and tried to fire up his Vikings.

“They came out and hit some shots and were more aggressive than us,” Pelletier said of the quick 7-0 deficit. “That hapens. They were playing harder than us, and we needed to pick up the intensity. Our guards, I feel, are better, and they showed it in the end.”

Shrugging off the slow start, the Vikings quickly caught and passed the Dragons by halftime. Oxford Hills went on to a 52-36 victory.

“We just knew we had to step up defesively because we started off really slow,” said senior guard Kari Pelletier. “When we got our defensive intensity up, we started playing better.”

Pelletier led the Vikings with a superb outing, scoring 22 points, including 11 in the third quarter as Oxford Hills broke open a six-point halftime lead. Terry Bunce added 14 points, while Teira Durgin chipped in seven.

Brunswick received seven from Claire Baecher and Courtney Coffill.

“Kari played incredible,” said Nate Pelletier, whose team was ranked 12th in the latest Eastern A Heals. “It’s probably the best game I’ve seen her play, ever. She was the one kid I told to keep the ball in her hands because she was scoring. On any given night, it can be any kid, but tonight, it was her. She played very well.”

Brunswick took the quick 7-0 and 9-1 leads by hitting four of its first five shots, while the Vikings missed their first five offerings.

When the Vikings cranked up the defensive pressure, Brunswick’s offense didn’t run as smoothly. Oxford Hills pestered the guards, and the post players took away the inside pass. The Dragons went 1-for-8 the rest of the quarter and 10-for-41 for the remainder of the game. Brunswick also committed nearly 30 turnovers.

“It’s tough to get your own shots after you’re taking it out of the net all the time,” said Nate Pelletier. “When we started slowing them down with our defense, we were able to get shots we liked.”

The Vikings were within 11-9 by the end of the quarter, thanks to free frows by Alley Fox and Kyla Martin. Oxford Hills then took the lead to start the second with a 9-2 run. After Brunswick answered a Martin basket, Pelletier hit two free throws and Durgin drilled a 3-pointer. Brunswick (5-2) stayed within reach until Bunce nailed a long-distance 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 25-19 lead.

“That was really big,” said Kari Pelletier. “It got our intensity up even more because we knew we were up by six.”

The Viking seized the moment and increased the lead to double digits when Pelletier took over in the third. After a Fox free throw, Pelletier scored on a fast break and followed that with a steal for a hoop. After a Brunswick bucket by Baecher, Pelletier had back-to-back drives to make it 34-21.

“That was really important,” she said. “I wanted to play really hard so we wouldn’t have to make it a really close game at the end.”

Brunswick plucked away and got within six late in the third, but 3-pointers by Pelletier and two free throws by Lauren Brett padded the lead. Pelletier and Bunce led the production at the free throw line down the stretch as the Vikings hit 10-of-12 in the fourth quarter to keep the Dragons at bay.

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