WALES — Oak Hill called a timeout just over six minutes into Friday’s South regional Unified basketball semifinal so that coach Peter Dennis could have a “heart to heart” talk with his players.

The Raiders responded.

When Lewiston coach Bill County did the same thing at halftime of the contest, it was for a different reason. His players responded, as well.

Yet there was no stopping the Raiders, the No. 1 seed who remained undefeated with a 45-22 victory over the fourth-seeded Blue Devils.

The Raiders (8-0) trailed 5-4 when Dennis called his timeout.

“I think they tried to gain some of their composure back,” Dennis said. “They were real nervous before the game, and you can see how that will cause a lot of dissension amongst the teammates. I just had a little heart-to-heart talk with them, and told them this was about making your teammates look good, not about you looking good, and let’s start playing as a team.”

Advertisement

Playing as a team, the Raiders then went on a run, jumping ahead 14-7 by the time County called a timeout less than two minutes later. Marcel Trepanier was a spark off the bench and Lee Mower capped what was at that point an 8-0 run with a 3-pointer.

Oak Hill kept that run going all the way into halftime, doubling up the Blue Devils (7-3) 24-12 at the break. Lewiston hit a pair of banked-in 3s thanks to Breck Gagnon and Nick Allen-Smith, but little else went the Blue Devils’ way on offense.

“It means a lot to them. So when it doesn’t go, and we don’t win, and it’s been a good month and a half since we got beat, you could see they were getting frustrated,” County said. “And then at halftime we did a lot of talk about sportsmanship, and it’s a great lesson for them. It’s the only competitive environment where they’re going to learn that sometimes you got to take your lumps, and sometimes it doesn’t feel good, but you continue to be good sports.”

The frustratingly unfriendly bounces continued for Lewiston in the second half, all while Oak Hill kept pulling away with a 15-0 run out of the intermission.

“The last game that we played against them, we worked really hard on trying to beat that fast-break transition. Worked well for the first half, anyway,” County said. “And then I think we got tired. They’re quick, they’re fast to the ball. They’ll be tough to beat next week.”

Lewiston hadn’t lost since an early-season defeat to the Raiders, winning seven straight games heading into the semifinals. Dennis said he knew the Blue Devils were a strong team, and he felt blessed when the opponent’s shots weren’t going in early. By the time the Raiders’ 15-0 second-half run ended with a Jalissa Scott putback, he was hoping those same shots would just go in.

Advertisement

“It’s so tough at the end. I want to cry at the end,” Dennis said. “I don’t want to win every game, or any game, by 20 points. But these kids have worked really hard all year and I want them to reap that profit.”

Scott’s second-chance basket started an 8-0 run for Lewiston, with field goals from Hawo Doorow, Edwin Rivera and Gagnon following.

County attributed his team’s scoring spree to a change in a strategy.

“Traditionally, during the season we just play a rotation — three kids that play together, and we just rotate them through,” County said. “We didn’t do that today. We just wanted to keep some of our more competitive players on the court. I think when we went back to our regular grouping, the kids had a little more fun. They’re used to playing with those partners, and so we were more successful.”

Trepanier eventually ended Lewiston’s late run and finished tied for the team in points with Mower, each pouring in 13 points. Devon Fournier added 10, including two quick layups to start the second half.

Doorow led the Blue Devils with six points. Gagnon added five, and five other Lewiston players found the bottom of the net.

The Raiders now advance to the regional final for the first time in the three-year history of Unified basketball in the state. They’ll face No. 3 Lisbon, which won the regional title each of the last two years.

“That’s the kids’ goal, has been all year, is to get to that big game,” Dennis said. “I think they’re up for the challenge. We face Lisbon next week, and they’re looking forward to that game, too, because that’s a big rival for us.”

[email protected]

Lewiston High School’s Nick Allen-Smith, right, looks over his shoulder as Oak Hill High School’s Lee Mower chases him down during their Unified basketball semifinal in Wales on Friday.

Lewiston High School’s Nick Allen-Smith, right, looks over his shoulder as Oak Hill High School’s Lee Mower chases him down during their Unified basketball semifinal in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Tim Riendeau (15) passes the ball in front of Lewiston High School’s Taha Mahamat during their Unified basketball semifinal game in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Tim Riendeau (15) passes the ball in front of Lewiston High School’s Taha Mahamat during their Unified basketball semifinal game in Wales on Friday.

Lewiston High School’s Josh County, right, guards Oak Hill High School’s Ben Ridlon during their Unified basketball semifinal in Wales on Friday.

Lewiston High School’s Josh County, right, guards Oak Hill High School’s Ben Ridlon during their Unified basketball semifinal in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Lee Mower, left, looks to pass the ball in front of Lewiston High School’s Connor Jewett (23) during their Unified basketball semifinal in Wales on Friday. Following the play is referee Tony Gowell.

Oak Hill High School’s Lee Mower, left, looks to pass the ball in front of Lewiston High School’s Connor Jewett (23) during their Unified basketball semifinal in Wales on Friday. Following the play is referee Tony Gowell.

Lewiston High School’s Edwin Rivera, left, tries to shoot over Oak Hill High School’s Marcel Trepanier with Lewiston’s Mya Letourneau looking on during their semifinal game in Wales on Friday.

Lewiston High School’s Edwin Rivera, left, tries to shoot over Oak Hill High School’s Marcel Trepanier with Lewiston’s Mya Letourneau looking on during their semifinal game in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Ben Ridlon (30) gestures for the ball to go into the hoop during a Unified basketball semifinal against Lewiston High School in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Ben Ridlon (30) gestures for the ball to go into the hoop during a Unified basketball semifinal against Lewiston High School in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Devon Fournier controls the ball during a Unified basketball semifinal game against Lewiston High School in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Devon Fournier controls the ball during a Unified basketball semifinal game against Lewiston High School in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Alexis Bean, left, and Lewiston High School’s Caleb Beaupre jostle for position under the net during their Unified basketball semifinal in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Alexis Bean, left, and Lewiston High School’s Caleb Beaupre jostle for position under the net during their Unified basketball semifinal in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Lee Mower, left, goes in for a layup in front of Lewiston High School’s Jalissa Scott during their Unified basketball semifinal in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Lee Mower, left, goes in for a layup in front of Lewiston High School’s Jalissa Scott during their Unified basketball semifinal in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Caleb Treadwell brings the ball up the court during a Unified basketball semifinal game against Lewiston High School in Wales on Friday.

Oak Hill High School’s Caleb Treadwell brings the ball up the court during a Unified basketball semifinal game against Lewiston High School in Wales on Friday.

Comments are not available on this story.