AUBURN — When Ashee Arnold hobbled off the court early in Tuesday’s basketball game, it was likely going to be a defining moment.

With one of the Red Eddies top players and scorers going to the bench with an injury, it was the kind of opportunity Oxford Hills could seize.

Instead, it was EL that responded. Already behind, the Red Eddies shrugged off the lose of a key player and got down to business. EL erased the deficit, took the lead and cruised from there in a 49-27 win over the Vikings.

“We knew we had to step it up,” said freshman guard Tianna Harriman. “With our good shooter out, we had to start shooting.”

EL had missed its first 10 shots and fallen behind 5-0. When Arnold left, it seemed uncertain whether she’d return or how the Red Eddies would react without her. Arnold returned in the second quarter but by then, EL had opened the lead.

“Tianna came right in and took some shots,” said EL coach Craig Jipson. “I know the first time Ashlee stepped on the floor her freshman year she hit four 3’s against Messalonskee. Tianna came in and did a nice job.”

The Vikings wilted from there. Oxford Hills went 21:24 without a field goal and was plagued by over 20 turnovers. Coach Nate Pelletier pulled his starters for much of the second half.

“We struggled from every position to score,” said Pelletier. “Things happen. It was one of those nights. We’re averaging 45 points a game. So I’d expect more than that. You have to forget about it and move on.”

Arnold returned in the second quarter and added a late flurry of eight points as EL built a 25-11 lead. She finished with a game-high 10. Crissy Lewis and Kory Norcross each had nine while Kate Sawyer added seven.

Oxford Hills (3-4) got just 13 points total from its starters. Crystal West had nine off the bench while Abbie Eastman added six. Mikayla Morin  added five off the bench as well.

The Vikings opened up a 5-0 lead on a basket by Alex Rowe and a three-point play by Brooke Murch. It would be the last field goal for Oxford Hills until early in the fourth.

Then Arnold fell in a heap on the floor with 5:49 left in the quarter. She walked gingerly off the court and spent the rest of the quarter on the bench.

EL (5-2) was struggling from the floor, but after adjusting to missing Arnold, the Red Eddies finished the quarter with an 11-2 run. Brooke Reynolds got EL’s first basket. Then Harriman scored back-to-back hoops and EL was in the lead.

“Those were pretty big,” said Harriman. “We were down by five. So those two baskets brought us up. We started to feel better about our shots and felt we could do it.”

An Eastman free throw tied the game, but Sawyer hit a jumper and then added a 3 as EL finished the quarter up 11-7.

Lewis started the second quarter with a three-point play. Then Kelly Philbrook added a jumper. Oxford Hills could only keep pace with free throws by Eastman. Then Arnold hit a pair of 3’s and added two from the foul line for the 25-11 lead at the half.

“I was just so happy with our defense,” said Jipson. “We played really well in the court-to-court defense and haven’t been playing that well defensively.”

EL kept it going in the third with a 15-2 advantage. Norcross had six points during the stretch and set up a Lewis basket as well. The Vikings next field goal didn’t come until the first minute of the fourth quarter.

“We’ve played so many big games, one-point games and overtime games,” said Jipson. “They’re a very good basketball team, and it was our night. Everything went our way.”

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