AUGUSTA — Top-seeded Oxford Hills knew when and when not to attack No. 3 Deering’s defense in Friday night’s AA North girls’ basketball final, and the Vikings more than rewarded themselves for their choices.

Clutch free-throw shooting and defensive stops in overtime allowed the Vikings to pull away for a 44-39 win at the Augusta Civic Center, earning them their second regional title in four years and a shot at unbeaten Gorham for the state championship at 6 p.m. next Saturday, also at the Augusta Civic Center.

Oxford Hills (19-1) made 7 of 7 free throw attempts in the extra session, and 17 of 19 in the game. 

“That was the longest four minutes of my life,” Oxford Hills sophomore center Jadah Adams said. “(Going to states) is definitely kind of surreal because last year we were in the same position and our season came to an end right here. But we have a chance to move further on, and we’re ready.”

“When it comes down to it, if you make free throws, you’re going to win games,” Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier said. “We work on free throws so much because I watch these tournament games and you see teams miss free throws and shoot themselves in the foot. I think the girls really understand why we did it now.”

“Our 3s weren’t falling and we finally decided to take it to the rim. That’s what was working, so we kept doing it,” Oxford Hills senior Erin Morton said.

Maighread Laliberte’s three-point play put the Vikings in front to stay at 38-35. Deering (13-8) cut the lead to one twice, the final time on a pair of Tasia Titherington free throws with 1:13 remaining. 

The Rams wouldn’t score again, and Morton and Julia Colby combined to sink six straight from the charity stripe to seal it.

“Our coach said that we needed to push it, and we just attacked because we wanted to get fouled,” Colby said.

Colby finished with 13 points. Adams also had 13 points to go with eight rebounds, and Laliberte added nine for the Vikings. Titherington, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, led all scorers with 21 points, while Mandy Mastropasqua added nine points for the Rams.

Adams dominated the first quarter, scoring 10 points to send the Vikings out to a 16-7 lead.

“I think we came out just like a bullet right out of a gun, ready to go with the mentality that we’re going to win this and hustling our butts off,” Adams said.

They extended that margin to double digits on a pair of Morton free throws, but Deering went to a 2-3 zone, slowed Oxford Hills’ momentum and rallied with a 10-3 run to end the half.

“We’re not a zone team, and you could see them struggling with it,”  Deering coach Michael Murphy said. “The problem with that is they do have some shooters and we had kids all over the place that normally don’t play in certain spots. But it changed the tide a little and got us back in and believing.”

The Vikings also lost some steam when Adams had to go to the bench after picking up a personal foul and a technical (for slamming the ball down in frustration), giving her three fouls with 1:44 to go in the half.

Titherington made three of the four resulting free throws to pull the Rams within 18-16. Laliberte’s 3-pointer was the Vikings’ only field goal of the period (1-for-10 shooting). Titherington followed with a hoop to make it 21-18 Oxford Hills at intermission.

With Adams remaining on the bench to start the second half, Deering saw an opening and went on a 12-3 run, capped by Titherington’s three-point play that made it 30-24 Rams. 

The Vikings closed most of the gap, though, with a hoop from Laliberte and a buzzer-beating 3 by Erin Eastman. 

Oxford Hills held the ball a couple of times to pull the Rams out of their zone, but both teams went cold in the fourth, going the first 5:40 without a field goal before Colby hit a runner to put the Vikings up, 33-31, with 2:20 to go.

Forty seconds later, Mastropasqua tied it with a steal and layup. After a Vikings turnover, the Rams set up for the last shot and got more — a drive and miss by Titherington and a missed putback by Amanda Brett — before the ball went out of bounds off the Vikings. Inbounding under their own basket with time for one more shot, the Rams never got it thanks to good interior defense by the Vikings.

Oxford Hills senior captains Erin Morton, front left, and Erin Eastman, front right, hoist the Northern Class AA Championship trophy after beating Deering in overtime in Augusta on Friday. 

Erin Morton (12) and Jadah Adams (22) of Oxford Hills celebrate their overtime victory over Deering in Augusta on Friday. 

Erin Morton (12) and Jadah Adams (22) of Oxford Hills celebrate their overtime victory over Deering in Augusta on Friday. 

Julia Colby of Oxford Hills pulls up for a shot over Delaney Haines (23) of Deering during the second period in Augusta on Friday. 

Julia Colby of Oxford Hills pulls up for a shot over Delaney Haines (23) of Deering during the second period in Augusta on Friday. 

Julia Colby and Jadah Adams (22) of Oxford Hills reach for a rebound during Friday’s game against Deering in Augusta on Friday. 

Julia Colby and Jadah Adams (22) of Oxford Hills reach for a rebound during Friday’s game against Deering in Augusta on Friday.