PORTLAND — Pass, dribble, pass. Dribble, pass. Dribble, slash, score.

That’s the abridged but substantially explanatory version of how Deering picked apart Oxford Hills in a Class AA boys’ basketball holiday matinee on Monday.

Deering shot 62 percent from the field in the first half, fashioned 50 points and cruised to an 81-49 victory.

“In the first half, we didn’t defend them. We didn’t get after it,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “We had a plan to make them try to shoot jump shots, so we weren’t able to do that. They got to the rim on us and outrebounded us.”

Deering (11-1) put four scorers in double digits, and nearly could boast six. Senior Anthony Lobor scored 12 of his 18 points in the first half. Manny Chikuta brought 11 points off the bench before intermission and finished with 13.

Jean Claude Butera added 11 points and Max Chabot churned out 10. Malik White and Raffaele Salamone each notched nine. Twenty of the Rams’ 31 field goals came with an assist. Deering also made 21 steals out of Oxford Hills’ 30 turnovers, turning the vast majority into easy baskets.


“That’s who we are. If you look at the leaders in the SMAA, we don’t have many, and the guys embrace that,” Deering coach Todd Wing said. “There’s not one guy who’s looking at the stats at their points. They’ve just got one goal in mind, and that’s to win.”

Win convincingly, they did, four days after the top team in Class AA North suffered its initial loss, a 61-51 verdict against age-old rival Portland.

All three losses for Oxford Hills (10-3) of the KVAC — Portland, Sanford and now Deering — have come against teams from the Portland-based SMAA. The Vikings are playing crossover contests in the regular season against them for the first time.

“They’re fast. You’ve got to play against these teams before you really figure it out,” Graffam said. “In our league over the years there haven’t been many teams that play total up-tempo. Cony and Lewiston the last few years, and Mt. Blue did for a while, but most of those teams pound it inside.”

Chris St. Pierre led Oxford Hills with a game-high 20 points. He hit four 3-pointers, three from nearly the same spot in the left corner in the opening period. Deering effectively adjusted by employing a 1-2-2 zone when St. Pierre was on the floor.

Deering contained University of Maine-bound Andrew Fleming to 18 points. He had seven rebounds and four blocked shots. The Rams limited Fleming to four field goals, the final one a dunk to start a 3-point play with 4:59 remaining in the first half.


“We did a good job mixing up defenses. Obviously we keyed in on Fleming. We wanted to make sure he had a hand in his face every shot. I think we did a pretty good job,” Wing said. “That’s what you have to do with a good player, but at the same time we didn’t lose focus on who we are as a pressing team. We got out in transition and got those easy buckets that lead to the spurts that we live and die by.”

The Rams never trailed. Lobor’s reverse layup, two Salamone free throws and a scoop shot by Chabot made it 6-0 out of the gate while the Vikings missed their first five shots. Oxford Hills shot 30 percent overall.

St. Pierre and Fleming combined for 16 in that quarter for the Vikings, who successfully got into basket-swapping mode with the Rams for a while. St. Pierre’s third 3-pointer cut it to 20-16 with 1:54 to go.

Lobor scored inside again, then Butera on the break after Lobor’s steal, to fight off the run and complete an 11-for-13 Deering start.

“They’re good off the bounce, but we do have some guys that you have to respect from the outside,” Wing said. “That makes defenses come up at us so we can go by them.”

Chikuta collected nine second-quarter points, including a 3-pointer during a 9-0 uprising that put the Rams in front, 36-20. He exploded for a traditional 3-point play later in the period.


Deering led 50-32 at the break. Oxford Hills made a modest run in the third period to get within 15 at 60-45, keyed by a 5-for-6 stretch from the line by Fleming.

Eight turnovers ended those aspirations, however. Deering doubled its lead while holding Oxford Hills scoreless with a flourish that took a shade under four minutes.

“We kind of got to the paint a little better in the third quarter. I’m hoping that’s a little more (indicative of) the separation between us. We turned the ball over too much,” Graffam said. “Portland did it to us also. You can’t miss layups and you can’t turn it over against teams of that quality. That’s a very, very good team.”

Butera and White drained 3s during the 15-0 Deering display that led to ample time for reserves.

”I had no doubt how they would respond (to a loss),” Wing, who scored more than 1,000 points during his playing career at Telstar, said. “We didn’t make excuses. This group has stayed very focused throughout the year.”

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