Oxford Hills’ Cody Hadley goes in for a lay-up past Lewiston’s Matt Beauparlant in the first half of their game Tuesday night in Lewiston.

Oxford Hills’ Asher White grabs the rebound away from Lewiston’s Alex Chicoine in the first half of their game Tuesday night in Lewiston.

Lewiston’s Trey Ouellette pushes past Oxford Hills’ Ethan Davidson after grabbing the rebound in the first half of their game.

Lewiston’s Mekae Hyde tries to divert Jake Hall’s attention from the net during the first half of their game Tuesday.

LEWISTON — It’s the same lesson our moms, our teachers or our preachers deliver when we’re overheard lamenting our lot in life: Look around and be thankful, because someone’s struggling more mightily than you are.

Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School would be the first to admit that its boys’ basketball offense has been sporadic this winter, at best. But after the Vikings’ 56-26 rout of Lewiston on Tuesday night, fretting aloud would be too much like complaining to an unemployed neighbor about your lack of a Christmas bonus.

The Vikings never trailed after bridging the first and second periods with a run of 14 unanswered points. Oxford Hills (4-5) limited Lewiston to 19 percent shooting and harassed the Blue Devils into separate field goal droughts of four, five, six and seven minutes.

“Defense is the key to our team,” said junior Jake Hall, who sparked Oxford Hills with six points, eight rebounds and three steals. “It’s kept us in games. Every game, really.”

And when the Vikings can’t buy a bucket — as was the case during a 5 1/2-minute, 0-for-8 start to Tuesday’s second half — that defense doesn’t betray them.

In fact, the rim at the other end of the floor is more frequently becoming the payout window. Most of Oxford Hills’ hoops in a game-ending, 29-6 surge resulted from uncontested drives or odd-man weaves at the end of a fast break.

Nine different Vikings scored in the second half, led by Hall’s six-point outburst in the fourth.

“We don’t shoot it really well, and we’ve made a lot of silly turnovers,” said Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam. “But defensively this is one the best teams I’ve ever coached. We’ve really put in a lot of time with our defense. That’s 70 percent of our practice right now.”

Matt Verrier paced Oxford Hills with 13 points. Eight of those came in the second quarter, six as a result of third-chance buckets via the Vikings’ offensive glass.

Cody Hadley contributed 12 points and five assists. No basket was bigger than Hadley’s spinning leaner in the paint to end Oxford Hills’ drought and fuel its finishing kick with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter.

“Since the beginning of the season, offense hasn’t really been our thing. But our defense has picked us up,” Hadley said. “We need to start making shots. We haven’t scored much in any game this season.”

Lewiston (1-8) knows that frustration perhaps better than any team in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.

The first half of the Blue Devils’ campaign ended in familiar fashion, with Lewiston keeping an opponent at arm’s length but nobody emerging to deliver the knockout punch.

Corbin Hyde’s short baseline jumper and Peter Blais’ 3-pointer helped reduce a 27-14 halftime deficit to seven with 3:17 to go in the third. Hard to imagine at the time that the Devils would score only six more points before the horn.

“We play hard. It’s so frustrating. You have to score at some point. You can’t play that hard and not score,” said Lewiston coach Tim Farrar, an Oxford Hills graduate. “It’s not like hockey where, OK, we’re going to barricade, we’ve got the best goalie and we’ll score one goal.”

Hyde led Lewiston with 11 points and eight rebounds. Only four other Devils cracked the scoring column, none with more than five points.

Matt Beauparlant’s 3-pointer and Mekae Hyde’s transition jumper staked Lewiston to a quick 5-0 lead. Corbin Hyde’s put-back kept the Devils in front, 7-5, before the Vikings’ depth, defense and rebounding prowess took over.

Josh MacDonald delivered a traditional 3-point play and four blocked shots late in the first quarter to provide a spark off the bench. Andrew Keniston also chipped in a steal and coast-to-coast drive.

Nate Dubois notched four of his five thefts in the first half.

“We have 10 to 12 guys who play just as hard as anyone else,” Hall said. “We just have to keep working and playing defense, and the scoring will come.”

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