AUGUSTA – Kari Pelletier feels at home at the free-throw line more than most basketball players.

Friday afternoon, the Oxford Hills junior guard had more than an average free throw in her hands, but she tried not to think of it that way.

“I just tried to take my time and get my shot in the air and not focus on anything but shooting,” said Pelletier. “I just tried to make sure everything was aligned and make sure it was in the air and not miss it short.”

Pelletier was a 70-percent foul shooter in the regular season, good enough for eighth in the KVAC South. Her one free throw with seven seconds left lifted Oxford Hills to a come-from-behind 40-39 win over Mt. Blue at the Augusta Civic Center.

The Vikings (16-3) advance to Wednesday’s semifinals for the second straight year and host Cony, a team it lost to twice in the regular season.

“The girls definitely picked up the intensity in the second half,” said Vikings coach Nate Pelletier, whose team had to rally from 11 points. “That’s what I wanted them to do. We missed a lot of layups. When you miss a lot of layups, you have to keep battling because eventually, it’s going to turn your way, and it did.”

Pelletier finished with 13 points while Allison Fox led the charge in the second half with nine of her 12 points in the last two quarters.

“She had as many as 15 rebounds when we needed it,” said Nate Pelletier of Fox. “Most of them were defensive rebounds. Against this team, that’s what you need to do.”

The Vikings spoiled Mt. Blue’s hopes of advancing to the semifinals, something the Cougars have not done since 2000. Mt. Blue (11-7) got 10 each from Christina Mosher and Alyson Webster.

While the Vikings struggled through a dismal first half, the Cougars clicked offensively. Mosher had eight of her 10 points in the first half, and Mt. Blue got outside shots from Sarah Fournier, Webster and Bonnie Silkman.

The Vikings were down 28-17 at the half after Mt. Blue finished with a 9-2 run. Oxford Hills shot 6-for-22 in the first half and had nearly a dozen turnovers.

“We weren’t really frustrated, maybe a little worried,” said Kari Pelletier. “We’ve been down by 10 a couple of times during the year. We knew we could come back.”

Mt. Blue’s offense went cold, hitting one of its first eight shots of the second half, as the Vikings picked up the defense, but the Cougars were still able to make it 31-20 on a Fournier 3-pointer. The Vikings got within six on a Terry Bunce jumper, but a Mosher basket made it 33-25 entering the final quarter.

“I still think we were getting good shots,” said Mt. Blue coach Jeannine Paradis. “We just didn’t have people in place to put it back up. We needed to take care of the ball in that aspect and make sure we were able to box out when we need to. We weren’t always in position.”

When Mosher picked up her fourth foul in the fourth, it allowed the Vikings to get more aggressive in the paint. Fox and Megan Joyce, who finished with eight points, took advantage, combining for 10 straight points to open the fourth. A 3-pointer by Fox tied the game with 4:42 left at 33-33.

“I’ll tell her in the huddle that if you’re open, take it,” said Nate Pelletier. “I’m not sure she was open, but she still took it and still made it.”

Fox also scored off a steal, and two Pelletier free throws made it 37-33. Mt. Blue had missed its first six shots of the final quarter and didn’t get its first points until 3:01. After a Webster free throw, Fournier hit a 3-pointer to tie it with 2:30 left. After a Pelletier steal, Webster scored in the post to tie it with 1:27 left. When Joyce missed a shot with 42 seconds remaining, the Cougars had a chance for the final shot. They worked it into Silkman for a short jumper, but she missed. Lauren Brett got the rebound.

“It was make sure we get the best shot or make sure we have people in position to rebound,” said Paradis. “We wanted to take the best shot we could, and we did. It just didn’t fall.”

Pelletier took an inbounds pass at halfcourt and immediately found a two-man trap. She tried to maneuver around it and drew a blocking foul with seven seconds left.

“I saw a gap on the outside,” she said. “So I tried to attack that. My coach was telling me to go by her.”


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