SOUTH PARIS – It took them about a half, but Oxford Hills found a way to exploit Edward Little’s tired legs, beat its matchup zone and avoid a major upset.

It didn’t hurt that Kelsea Pelletier scored all 10 of her points in the second half as the Vikings survived a scary 48-41 win Tuesday night.

This was the first meeting this season between the two teams, who virtually swapped coaches during the offseason when Craig Jipson retired briefly from coaching at Oxford Hills, then filled the opening with the Red Eddies’ varsity, and Nate Pelletier moved up from the Edward Little JV to the Vikings’ varsity.

Yet, as well as the two teams knew each other, the Vikings (11-2) struggled in the first half with EL’s amoeba-like matchup zone. They finally started to break it down in the second half with skip passes over the defense and dribble penetration into the teeth of it.

“In the second half, we played a totally different offense with cutters, and that helped us out a lot,” Nate Pelletier said. “We got a lot of good looks at the basket.”

“Our effort was absolutely outstanding on their floor,” said Jipson, whose team was confident coming off a win over Mt. Ararat last Friday. “We’re playing some of our best basketball right now.”

Terry Bunce finished with 13 points and four steals to lead the Vikings. Kelsey Nicolas led the Red Eddies (3-9) with 13 points and nine rebounds. Brittney French had 11.

Trailing by six at the half, the Vikings enjoyed immediate results from their new offense, getting a 3-pointer from Kelsea Pelletier, a basket from Allison Fox and two free throws from Kari Pelletier to tie the game at 31 late in the third.

The Eddies seized their last lead on a pair of French free throws with 3:52 left. Back-to-back drives by Kelsea Pelletier and Teira Durgin over the next two minutes gave the Vikes the lead for good. Durgin added a steal on EL’s next possession, one of six Eddies turnovers in the quarter. Then the Vikings salted the game away with Bunce drilling four-of-four free throws and Fox adding two more from the charity stripe in the final minute.

“We didn’t sub as much as we should have, and I think we were a little slower (in the fourth quarter),” Jipson said. “We did a great job of taking away their cuts. What hurt us in the fourth quarter was a little bit of dribble penetration. We have a lot of youth on our bench, and in a game like this, it’s hard to go with some of those kids.”

Oxford Hills appeared ready to pull away early, opening up an 18-10 lead early in the second quarter. Nicolas, who scored 10 in the period, pulled the Eddies back in the game with four free throws and a putback that sparked a 13-2 run to close out the half. Kate Dargie added a trey and French and Allison Forgues converted fastbreak layups off their own steals to give EL a 28-22 lead at the half.

“They isolate a lot of players, and in the first half, we weren’t taking that away at all,” Pelletier said. “Kate Dargie, Brittney French, they have a whole slew of them that can play really hard and are good players. Coaching there last year, I know it.”


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