Oxford Hills’ Atreyu Keniston, left, and teammate Janek Luksza battle for a rebound with Deering’s Darryl Germain, front, and Ben Onek during their game in Paris on Wednesday. (Brewster Burns photo)

PARIS — A second-half team all season, Oxford Hills sees no reason to change in the Class AA North tournament.

The third-seeded Vikings held No. 6 Deering without a bucket for nearly four minutes during a game-deciding 11-2 run in the fourth quarter and emerge with a 57-52 win in Wednesday night’s quarterfinal.

The Vikings (13-6) have now won eight in a row and advance to the semifinals next Tuesday, where they will meet No. 2 Edward Little at 2 p.m. at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. Deering ends its season at 8-11.

Carson Coulton led a balanced scoring attack for the Vikings with 15 points, along with nine rebounds, four assists and three steals. Chris St. Pierre added 14 points and Spencer Strong 13 points.

Cole Martinson paced Deering with 15 points on five 3-pointers. Nicsoni Bushiri added 12 and Ben Onek finished with eight points and nine rebounds.

“We knew (Deering) would come out with a lot of intensity for the second half, so we just have to make sure to match their intensity and more,” said St. Pierre, a senior guard. “We knew that we have to come out with our brand of basketball.”

Darryl Germain’s 3-pointer tied the game for Deering at 42-42 with 5:43 left, which is where it stood until St. Pierre drilled a 3-pointer to put the Vikings in front for good with 3:22 to go.

An offensive foul called on Onek drew the ire of Deering coach Todd Wing, who was assessed a technical foul. St. Pierre knocked down both free throws. More importantly, it was the fourth foul on Onek, AA North’s second-leading scorer (20.1 ppg).

A pair of Blaze Vail free throws pulled the Rams within three again briefly befor Janek Luksza found Carson for a bucket on an inbounds play to make it 49-44. Onek fouled out with 1:36 remaining, and Strong and Garrett Record converted back-to-back layups for an insurmountable 53-44 lead. Deering’s next field goal didn’t come until Bushiri scored with under a minute left.

With Oxford Hills’ defense focused on containing Onek, Deering had little choice to fire from the perimeter early. Martinson and Bushiri made the Vikings pay, combining for three 3-pointers as the Rams raced out to a 20-13 lead after the first quarter.

“Cole Martinson is a sophomore and he really stepped up,” Wing said. “He’s a 3-point threat. When it comes down to it, we start three sophomores, one junior, and we lose one senior (Bushiri), and our youth shined through at times.”

“It was very similar to the Greely game (a 51-39 loss Jan. 13). We weren’t digging in defensively,” said Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam, who was named AA North coach of the year. “They were beating us up and down the court. They hit wide-open 3s. We weren’t paying attention defensively.”

Oxford Hills, which beat the Rams, 40-37 on Jan. 5, struggled to hit shots consistently in the first half (11-for-32). But yeoman work on the offensive glass by Carson, Keniston and St. Pierre supplied the Vikings with a dozen more shot attempts than the Rams (10-for-20).

The Vikings, meanwhile, usually limited the Rams to one shot, and just eight points in the second quarter. Strong’s layup tied it up at 28-28 heading into halftime.

“We knew going into the game that if we controlled the boards, we’d be in a great position, but I think they ended up with 20 offensive rebounds, and that’s the tale of the tape,” Wing said.  “That gives them second-chance points and it takes us out of position where we can get cheap fouls called.”

Carson’s only 3-pointer of the game put the Vikings in front, 33-31, in the third. He also acted as a facilitator, setting up a cutting Keniston for a layup and St. Pierre for a wide-open 3 that helped the Vikes take a 40-36 lead into the fourth.

“It’s great playing with Colton,” St. Pierre said. “He can find everyone on the floor. He’s got good vision. He can score. He can rebound. He can do everything.”

“The third quarter is always our strong quarter,” Carson said. “We always come out with the intensity.”

St. Pierre usually drew the tough assignment of guarding the 6-foot-6 Onek, although the Vikings threw help defenders at him constantly.

“We knew he was ultra-aggressive, so I just overplayed him a lot and made him have to put the ball on the ground, and then we had good help on the help side,” St. Pierre said. “We just played good defense.”

“We did a nice job getting into Onek’s traveling lane so he’d have to turn it over or we’d draw the charge,” Graffam said.

Oxford Hills’ Chris St. Pierre Drives the lane between Deering’s Nicsoni Bushiri, left, and Cole Martinson during their game in Paris on Wednesday. (Brewster Burns photo)Oxford Hills’ Colton Carson eyes the basket as he gets above Deering’s Blaze Vail, center, and Cole Martinson during their game in Paris on Wednesday. (Brewster Burns photo)


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