South Portland’s Bela Cloutier fouls Oxford Hills’ Brooke Carson during Friday’s game in Paris. (Brewster Burns photo)

PARIS — Oxford Hills erased a seven-point third quarter deficit to pull within one, but a couple of missed shots late, coupled with 23 points from South Portland’s junior forward Maggie Whitmore, halted the last-ditch efforts of the Vikings in a 62-56 win by the Red Riots on Friday.

“It was a matter for us when we play our game defensively then we have a chance to win,” South Portland coach Lynne Hasson said. “I think it could have gone either way, but we made a couple big shots and foul shots down the stretch. It very easily could have been them up two or four and us fouling.”

Whitmore scored 16 first-half points, and the game was tied at 34-34 at the break, a score indicative of just how closely the two Class AA squads were competing,

Then the Vikings only managed six points in the third.

“For us, it comes down to just taking shots,” Oxford Hills head coach Nate Pelletier said.

“We have a goal to get so many shots up a quarter, and that didn’t happen in the third.”

South Portland suffocated the Vikings on defense in the third after stopping Oxford Hills’ forward Jadah Adams proved difficult for the Red Riots in the first half in which the senior scored eight points.

After the intermission, the Red Riots’ attention shifted.

“I think Adams hurt us,” Hasson said. “She got some layups. We got sealed pretty well up top in the first half and she hurt us with layups. We started to play behind her and made her shoot over us. We feel like if we play our game defensively and we go hard to the glass then we have a chance to win any game.”

With forwards Kaleisha Towle, Jena Leckie and Whitmore grabbing rebound after rebound, many on the offensive glass, the focus change was easier to make. The trio also combined to score 10 points in the third.

“I think Jena and Kaleisha are a huge part of this team, rebounding and getting them to rebound offensively,” Whitmore said. “Half our points come from that, so getting them to work inside is really big for us.”

At the start of the fourth quarter, the Vikings came out with a renewed energy.

While the Red Riots made their first two 3-pointers of the quarter, Cecelia Dieterich scored seven points of her own in the first three minutes, including two steals that led to points for the Vikings — one a layup of her own, another a fastbreak layup by Brooke Carson.

Katie Whitmore hit a layup for South Portland to go up by four points, but on their next possession the Vikings forced a 10-second violation to get the ball back. Maggie Hartnett then hit a 3 to cut to the lead to one, which was followed by a five-second violation by South Portland.

Maggie Whitmore said that weathering the storm early in the fourth was key.

“Taking a breather and slowing it down,” Whitmore said. “It gets chaotic sometimes, but taking a deep breath and slowing it down and not going with the crowd.”

Whitmore went on to hit two of South Portland’s seven free throws in the fourth. Towle blocked a layup from Hartnett to seal it with 24 seconds remaining, giving the Red Riots (5-1) their fifth win, four of which have been at home.

“That was a battle,” Pelletier said. “It felt like a playoff battle where neither team wanted to give in. We made a run there at the end and cut it to one at least once, maybe twice, and didn’t make a shot. They made free throws and we couldn’t get back after that.”

Dieterich finished with 16 points for the Vikings, and Adams chipped in 14.

Katie Whitmore finished with 10 points and Leckie ended with nine.

Oxford Hills’ Cecelia Dieterich drives the lane through a sea of South Portland red during Friday’s game in Paris. (Brewster Burns photo)

Oxford Hills’ Jadah Adams looks for a basket as South Portland’s Jena Leckie contests the shot during Friday’s game in Paris. (Brewster Burns photo)

Oxford Hills’ Cassidy Dumont goes up for a shot while be defended by South Portland’s Ashlee Aceto during Friday’s game in Paris. (Brewster Burns photo)


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