SOUTH PARIS — Two frustrating losing streaks hung in the balance in the agonizing final five seconds of Tuesday night’s KVAC tilt between Lewiston and Oxford Hills.

Trailing by three, Lewiston had two chances to tie the game on the final possession. Shawn Ricker’s 3-point attempt went halfway down before rimming out. The Blue Devils controlled the rebound and got it to a wide open Cody Mousseau on the left wing, but Mousseau’s shot was just short and bounced high off the rim and to the other side as the final buzzer sounded, giving the Vikings a 57-54 victory.

Dan Taylor had a game-high 20 points and five steals as the Vikings snapped their six-game skid. while the Blue Devils dropped their fifth straight.

“It’s about time,” Taylor said. “We’ve lost a bunch of close games this year. It’s just been hard.”

The Vikings (3-7) have lost four games by six points or less, three by four or less. All five losses during the Devils’ streak have been by six points or less.

“We had two good looks. Shawn’s was in,” Lewiston coach Tim Farrar said.

But Farrar felt the game was lost by how sloppily the Devils played to start each half.

“Seven out of our first 10 possessions in the game and six of our first eight in the second half, we turned the ball over. We could have easily put them away. Instead, we let them back in,” he said.

Lewiston (4-6) led by as much as 12 in the first half and by seven at halftime, but two dozen turnovers helped the Vikings take a six-point lead late in the fourth quarter.

“Part of it was their (fullcourt) pressure. I mean, they’re not sitting back in a 2-3 zone letting us walk it up,” Farrar said. “But we’ve worked on this. (Turnovers are) a continuing theme with us.”

“The second half, we had a really good defensive effort,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said.

“(Playing) man-to-man got us going,” Taylor said. “I think man-to-man works a lot better for us than the zone we’d been doing. It gets us more focused.”

Ricker scored 11 of his team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, and his 3-pointer pulled the Devils within three with 1:33 remaining.

It turned into a free throw shooting contest after that. Joe McKinnon knocked down a pair for the Devils to make it a one-point game, but Derek Morin answered with two for the Vikings.

Oxford Hills made it a two-possession game after Matt McVety (eight points, 11 rebounds) sank a pair with 47 seconds left. The teams exchanged turnovers, then Lewiston’s Luke Cote drilled two from the charity stripe for a 56-54 margin with 19 seconds to go.

Lewiston immediately fouled Brian Lynch (11 points), who hit one of two from the line to make it a three-point game with 17 seconds left and set up the dramatic finish.

“Graf is always talking about how we can’t make free throws, but this game, everyone made them,” Taylor said.

The Vikings hot 14-for-18 from the free throw line, including 9-for-11 in the fourth quarter.

“That’s amazing for us, because we’re a less than 50 percent free throw shooting team on the season,” Graffam said. “But tonight, we hit clutch free throws.”

Fifteen turnovers nearly doomed Oxford Hills in the first  half. Led by Ricker and Corbin Hyde (10 points, 10 rebounds), Lewiston went on a 15-2 run to start the second quarter and led 28-18.

Taylor hit a pair of 3-pointers to spark a 9-3 Viking run to close the half and McVety’s putback at the buzzer made it a 31-24 game.

“Thank God for Taylor in the first half or we would have been way behind,” Graffam said. “Luckily he hit a couple of 3s and kept us in the game.”


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