No. 3 Oxford Hills didn’t look like the team that No. 2 Deering blew out during the Class AA North boys’ basketball regular season. Not until the moments when it mattered most in a regional semifinal classic at Augusta Civic Center.

Down by seven points with three minutes remaining, Deering held Oxford Hills scoreless for the duration and swiped a 73-67 victory.

“I thought we had our composure until the very, very end,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “We had a nice lead there, and we had two of three trips where we missed foul shots or turned it over. They took advantage. That’s a good basketball team. For 29 minutes we were the better team.”

The sudden seismic shift abruptly ended the sensational high school career of Andrew Fleming. In his final game before taking his well-rounded game to the University of Maine, Fleming chalked up 28 points and 10 rebounds.

Deering (17-2) looks to avenge both its regular-season losses against No. 1 Portland in the championship game at 8:45 p.m. Friday.

Anthony Lobor hit a spinning, short jumper to launch the comeback. Raffaele Salamone, Lobor and Max Chabot swished seven consecutive free throws to put the Rams in front.


The Vikings still led 67-66 when Lobor slid to the floor to make a steal with just over a minute to go. That led to a 3-point try by Chabot, whom freshman Matt Fleming fouled in the act of shooting. Andrew’s younger brother fouled out with 13 points and five assists.

“I was just thinking ‘don’t miss.’ We like to tire them out in the fourth quarter,” Chabot said. “Luckily we went on a stretch of our own like a couple they had in the first half.”

Ben Williams stole the ball in the backcourt and laid it in, suddenly making it a two-possession game. Oxford Hills (16-4) missed its final five shots from the field as well as the front end of a one-and-one down the stretch.

Earlier, two Andrew Fleming free throw tries rolled around the rim, and off, as the Vikings held on for dear life to a 67-64 lead.

Malik White led Deering with 23 points and four steals. Lobor landed 15 points and eight rebounds. Salamone scored 10 and Chabot chipped in nine.

“We were down like this to (Thornton) and came back to win. It’s not a big deal. We just play our defense and take it one possession at a time,” Lobor said. “Everyone was working really hard and playing their hearts out. Everyone just sprinted to every single spot they had to be in.”


After Salamone’s layup knotted the game at 60, the Fleming brothers scored seven consecutive points in less than a minute to put the Vikings on the cusp of their second regional title game in three years.

Andrew broke the tie with a drive to the hoop off a feed from classmate Jake Beauchesne. The same duo delivered on the Vikings’ next possession, when Fleming knocked down Oxford Hills’ 12th 3-pointer of the night.

Then the siblings joined forced for a layup by Matthew. The idea that those would be the Vikings’ final points of the night was unfathomable.

“We’ve played against every defense known to mankind this year because of Andrew,” Graffam said. “We’re young other than Andrew and Jake. Some of that inexperience came through. We took some fast shots.”

Deering used a variation of the box-and-one to limit Andrew Fleming’s effectiveness in the second half.

“It was more of a 1-3-1 minus the top, and we defended Fleming,” Deering coach Todd Wing said. “I think that kind of gave them fits, and you’ve got to figure, 9-of-16 (from 3-point range) in the first half, they’ve got to cool off a little bit. Those second-half legs come into effect, and I think that’s what happened.”


Neither team led by more than four points in the second half until Oxford Hills’ outburst.

Cole Verrier put Oxford Hills in front, 39-36, with a 3-pointer just before intermission. It was the Vikings’ ninth.

Salamone answered Andrew Fleming’s trey with a drive to end the third period and give Deering a 51-50 edge.

“They came out making 3s like nobody’s business,” Chabot said. “They have a lot of good shooters. They have probably the best player in the state in Fleming to go inside-out. I think we probably caught them off guard the first time. They played well and we were lucky to get the ‘W’.”

The first half was easily superlative in this tournament and probably one of the best in years.

Oxford Hills enjoyed its largest lead of six, 16-10, on consecutive 3s by Chris St. Pierre and Beauchesne midway through the opening quarter. Back stormed Deering, buoyed by Manny Chikuta and White’s long-range marksmanship.


“On the bus ride up, talking to my coaches, I said let’s look at the scenarios. If we come away with a loss, why did we lose? It was going to be because they hit a lot of 3s,” Wing said.

Lobor scored back-to-back hoops, and Salamone continued the run with a layup, hoisting the Rams to a 22-20 lead after one.

Deering’s lead crested at seven, 29-22, punctuated by Chikuta’s running, left-handed flip and a White 3-pointer.

“When we played them before, they beat us up and down the court, which they did a little bit today but not as much,” Graffam said. “We played zone out of bounds, so they didn’t get as many baskets with that as they did before.”

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