Edward Little’s Grace Fontaine drives to the basket past Oxford Hills’ Maighread Laliberte during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little’s Piper Norcross waves the net after the Auburn players won the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Oxford Hills’ Maighread Laliberte drives down the court in the last moments of the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. She is shadowed by Edward Little’s Grace Fontaine. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little High School fans bring the enthusiasm in the stands during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. The Auburn team beat players from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little’s Grace Fontaine goes up for a basket during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little players celebrate winning the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. ( Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little’s Grace Beaudet looks to her teammates to pass the ball while pressured by Oxford Hills during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little celebrates winning the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. ( Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little coach Chris Cifelli talks to his team in the last timeout of a very close Class AA North girls’ basketball final at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. Edward Little took the win. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little’s Jade Perry pushes past Oxford Hills’ Maighread Laliberte during the Class AA North girls’ basketball final at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

PORTLAND — With a minute to play in Friday’s Class AA North girls’ regional final, Oxford Hills had the lead, and the ball.

Edward Little had an answer.

Grace Fontaine powered through the lane and hit a layup to give Edward Little the lead. She teamed up with Grace Beaudet on a big defensive stop two trips down the floor later to help the Red Eddies edge the Vikings, 48-45, at the Cross Insurance Arena.

“We talk a lot about resiliency, and about that until the final horn goes, we’re going to keep playing,” EL coach Chris Cifelli said. “And I think one of the things that I was really impressed with . . . there was that sense of urgency, but at the same time we weren’t anxious. So maybe inside there was churning, but it looked like we were pretty calm about things.”

Fontaine drilled a 3-pointer with 2:17 to play to give the third-seeded Red Eddies (14-7) their biggest lead of the second half at 44-40.

But the top-seeded Vikings (17-4) battled back and scored the next five points. Jadah Adams converted a three-point play to answer Fontaine’s triple, then after an EL turnover, Adams made a layup to make it 45-44 Oxford Hills with 1:45 to play.

That score stood through three timeouts, the last of which was called with 45.8 seconds to play. But the Vikings committed a backcourt violation out of the timeout to give the ball back to the Red Eddies.

“I didn’t call (another) timeout on that play,” Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier said. “We had a layup available for us, and I didn’t call it, and we get a backcourt call. So that’s on me, that’s not on them.”

Fontaine, the victim of some unfriendly bounces off the rim earlier in the game, drove in for a layup, giving EL the lead with 36 seconds on the clock.

“I was just thinking, ‘I need to make this, I need to make this,’ and if not, I can’t go back and fix this, so it’s just, I had to make it,” Fontaine said.

Going the other way, Julia Colby tried to do the same for the Vikings, but she was called for a charge, giving the ball back to EL with 27.3 ticks remaining.

“It was a big momentum change because Julia does such a good job of getting to the rim, and being able to really distort your defense by her dribble penetration,” Cifelli said. “So when we got those offensive fouls, I think not only did it take a little bit of wind out of their sails, but you just see your bench gets pumped up more.”

Fontaine missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 17.6 seconds left, but the Vikings turned the ball over again, this time along the sideline near the benches. Fontaine impeded the ball-carrier’s path, and Beaudet tipped the ball away from behind.

Piper Norcross made the front end of another 1-and-1 with 6.3 seconds left, but missed the second. Fontaine again chased down the loose ball near the sideline, snagged it and banked a hard toss off an Oxford Hills player and out of bounds.

“Down the stretch I was really impressed and pleased with our kids’ composure in that tight situation,” Cifelli said. “We’ve played a lot of tight games against a lot of good teams this year, so I think there’s that experience.”

Norcross said she didn’t intentionally miss the back end of the two free throws, and didn’t miss the back end of another set with 2.5 seconds to go.

The Vikings got the ball off that miss and called timeout, down three with two seconds to play. The inbounds pass out of the timeout, underneath the EL basket, went the length of the floor and out of bounds, once again giving the ball back to EL.

“We just kept saying, ‘Hold the ball, just secure it.’ We were almost there,” Norcross said.

“It was a back-and-forth game, just in the end we couldn’t get a key rebound or just inbound the ball when we needed to,” Pelletier said. “We just made some turnovers in the end. We had the lead, and it’s my fault.”

The win returns the Red Eddies to the Class AA state championship, in which they played two years ago.

Oxford Hills was the regional champion last year after getting knocked out by the Red Eddies in the AA North title game.

The teams had split during the regular season, with EL winning on the road in the season-opener, and the Vikings returning the favor in a blowout in Auburn in late January.

The Red Eddies (14-7) started the rubber match Friday on a 7-0 run and pushed the lead to 11-2, but the No. 1 Vikings (17-4) closed out the first quarter on a 10-0 run, capped off by a Maggie Hartnett 3-pointer with 6 seconds left.

“We knew that even up 11-2 Oxford wasn’t going to lie down. That’s just not in their nature,” Cifelli said. “So we were really almost prepared for they were going to make a couple of comebacks.”

“They’ve fought all year,” Pelletier said. “I have no question, they’re probably one of the hardest-working teams I’ve had, and I knew they were going to get back in the game.”

The Vikings stretched the lead to as many as 7 points in the second quarter, thanks in part to three 3s by Maighread Laliberte, and went into halftime ahead 31-27. Laliberte was 4-for-4 from 3-point range and had 16 points in the first half.

Oxford Hills struggled offensively in the third, though. A Brooke Carson runner halfway through the period were the team’s only points until Colby drained a 3 with 30 seconds left. That triple gave the Vikings the lead after the Red Eddies had taken it on a Jade Perry 3 with just over 3 minutes left in the third. The Vikings’ advantage was 36-34 heading into the fourth quarter.

Perry led EL with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Fontaine added 13 points.

Laliberte had a game-high 20 points and six rebounds. Colby pitched in with 10 points and four assists. Laliberte was the recipient of the Edward “Red” McMann Award, given to the most outstanding player in the AA North tournament.

“It’s tough in the end, but Maighread as a senior stepped up, stepped up all tournament, stepped up all year,” Pelletier said. “We’re going to definitely miss her. She shot the lights out again tonight. But that’s really how it’s been all year for her, so it doesn’t surprise me.”

The Red Eddies will face two-time defending state champion Gorham, which won the first two Class AA state titles, beating EL and Oxford Hills.

The Gorham Rams, a surprise regional champion as the No. 5 seed in the South, will be looking for their third straight state title next Friday.

Oxford Hills’ Ceceila Dieterich makes an unsuccessful bid for the basket as Edward Little’s Chantel Ouellette denies her during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little’s Jade Perry takes the ball past Oxford Hills’ Jadah Adams during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little players celebrate winning the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. ( Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Oxford Hills’ Jadah Adams and Edward Little’s Jade Perry and Chantel Ouellette scramble for a loose ball during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Oxford Hills’ Jadah Adams struggles for control of the ball with Edward Little’s Taylor Depot and Jade Perry during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little celebrates winning the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Oxford Hills’ Ceceila Dieterich drives for the basket between Edward Little’s Hannah Chaput and Grace Beaudet during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Oxford Hills’ Ceceila Dieterich gets pinched between Edward Little’s Hannah Chaput and Grace Beaudet during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday.(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Oxford Hills’ Ceceila Dieterich looks to the basket as Edward Little’s Jade Perry and Grace Fontaine play defense during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little’s pushes past Oxford Hills’ Maighread Laliberte during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Oxford Hills’ Ceceila Dieterich makes an unsuccessful bid for the basket as Edward Little’s Chantel Ouellette denies her during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little’s Jade Perry takes the ball past Oxford Hills’ Jadah Adams during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Oxford Hills’ Jadah Adams and Edward Little’s Jade Perry and Chantel Ouellette scramble for a loose ball during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Oxford Hills’ Jadah Adams struggles for control of the ball with Edward Little’s Taylor Depot and Jade Perry during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Oxford Hills’ Ceceila Dieterich drives for the basket between Edward Little’s Hannah Chaput and Grace Beaudet during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday.(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Oxford Hills’ Ceceila Dieterich gets pinched between Edward Little’s Hannah Chaput and Grace Beaudet during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday.(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Oxford Hills’ Ceceila Dieterich looks to the basket as Jade Perry and Grace Fontaine play defense during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday.(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little’s Piper Norcross waves the net after Auburn won the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Oxford Hills’ Maighread Laliberte drives down the court in the last moments of the game being shadowed by Edward Little’s Grace Fontaine during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little fans bring the enthusiasm in the stands during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little’s Grace Fontaine goes up for a basket during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little’s Grace Beaudet looks to her teammates to pass the ball two while being pressured by Oxford Hills during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday.
(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little celebrates winning the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday.( Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little celebrates winning the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday.( Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little coach talks to his team in the last time out of a very close Class AA North girls’ basketball final in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday. Edward Little took the win. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little’s Grace Fontaine drives to the basket past Oxford Hills’ Maighread Laliberte during the Class AA North girls’ basketball finals in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)