“But every game is like that,” he said. “It’s fun.”

Few games are quite like this one, however. What it lacked in artistry, it more than made up for with tournament-like intensity and a fittingly frantic finish.

“Well, what did you expect?” Lewiston coach Tim Farrar said.

Farrar’s Blue Devils held on to win a punishing, four-round bout, 41-39. It was perhaps their biggest win of the season, as they went into the night holding onto the ninth and final tournament spot in the Eastern A Heals with 1/3 of the season remaining.

“This was really big,” senior center Carlos Gonzalez said. “We really needed (the win) and I’m glad we got it. We were struggling, but now you can’t can’t worry about anything.”

Gonzalez (11 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) and Harris (14 points, 11 rebounds) anchored a front line that stood toe-to-toe with Oxford Hills’ long and formidable frontcourt. Gonzalez did it while playing most of the final 11 minutes with four fouls and guarding the Vikings’ standout sophomore, Andrew Fleming, who finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and five steals.

“Defensively, he’s gotten so much better,” Farrar said of Gonzalez. “He was able to stay in his stance. He was able to take away things from whoever he was guarding tonight. That’s a big step for him.”

From early in the second quarter to the end, Lewiston (5-7) never trailed. Yet Oxford Hills (7-4) still had a couple of chances to tie or win in the final seconds after Harris missed the front end of a one-and-one.

The Vikings had plenty of time left to get off a good shot, but no one seemingly willing to take it, despite the ball passing through three sets of hands in the final seconds.

“That’s my fault, I should have taken a timeout,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “We left a lot of points on the backboard with missed layups and foul shots, but we defended pretty well. We just couldn’t get it done at the end.”

If anyone began the night with plans to watch a smooth, back-and-forth game, the first quarter crushed those hopes immediately. The teams combined to shoot 3-for-24 from the field (Oxford Hills was 2-for-17) and turned the ball over 12 times to end the period tied at 5-5.

Both sides heated up in the second quarter. With foul trouble forcing senior center Luke Davidson to the bench early, Lewiston went inside to Gonzalez and Harris slashing along the baseline to open up a 17-10 lead.

“Coach was telling us no one could guard us in the paint,” Harris said. “He just said keep getting it into the paint, so we did.”

Oxford Hills rallied behind Fleming, who scored seven points in the quarter, including a bank shot that tied it again at 19-19. Nate Albert converted inside to give the Blue Devils a 23-21 advantage going into halftime, and they led the rest of the way.

Lewiston overplayed Fleming, Davidson and company in the post and slowly widened the margin to eight late in the third

“Coach wanted us to stay in front of them. We’ve got the help defense on the back side if they try to throw it over,” Harris said. “We played as a team on ‘D.'”

The Vikings got a hoop from Tyus Ripley and a 3-pointer just before the buzzer from Ben Morton to pull back within three heading into the final quarter.

Neither team scored for the first 3 ½ minutes of the fourth period until Dalton Rice made it a one-point game with a baseline drive. Albert answered with a putback and Harris a layup off a fast break — the Devils’ last field goal — to make it 40-35 with 3:15 to go.

A drive by Morton made it a three-point game again. Fleming and Rice followed a Harris free throw with two makes and two misses from the free throw line to make it 41-39.

Harris missed the front end of a one-and-one to open the door for the Vikings the first time, but Morton’s 3-point attempt from the top of the key bounced off the iron.

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