Mountain Valley’s Rylee Sevigny gets the rebound in front of Oak Hill’s Audrey Dillman during Friday night’s basketball game at Oak Hill High School. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

The Mountain Valley girls’ basketball team doesn’t have a lot of time to feel sorry for itself after unbeaten Oak Hill handed the Falcons their first loss of the season, 60-34, on Friday night in Wales.

The Falcons’ schedule this week features home games against Spruce Mountain (Monday) and Boothbay (Saturday) sandwiched around a Thursday road trip to Winthrop. The three teams go into the week with a combined 22-2 record. Winthrop and Boothbay have yet to lose.

Mountain Valley coach Craig Milledge challenged his team after the Oak Hill loss to play with a chip on its shoulder as it headed into the teeth of its Mountain Valley schedule.

“I told them in basketball, you can respond by getting deflated and getting sad, or you can get a little bit angry,” Milledge said. “If you take the latter, then you’ll be OK. If we’re upset about what happened and we mean it, we’ll be okay moving forward.”

“Spruce, Winthrop, Boothbay, Monmouth (on Jan. 22) … we’ve got a murderer’s row coming up,” Milledge said. “It won’t get easier, which is good for us. It will let us know where we’re at. We had a little gut check (against Oak Hill), a wake-up call.”

Milledge hopes his team’s struggles against Oak Hill’s league-leading defense, which held the Falcons to a season low for points, will help his team contend with other stifling defenses they will face down the stretch.

“We need to learn from what they did defensively and we need to be better at (the offensive) end of the floor. There’s no doubt,” Milledge said.

“We have got to find a way to get our shots,” he added.

BENCH HELPED VIKINGS’ TURNAROUND

Oxford Hills’ 0-3 start wasn’t necessarily shocking given that the Vikings had to play the iron of Class AA North right out of the gate — defending state champion Edward Little, Bangor and Portland.

But coach Scott Graffam saw more trouble down the road if he didn’t extend his rotation and give his starters more of a break. Both the bench and the starters responded, and the Vikings ripped off a four-game winning streak before Deering snapped it Friday night to push them back to .500.

“At the beginning of the season we had a tough schedule, obviously. But part of it was I didn’t trust our bench. So I didn’t play guys and I think we ran out of gas, and I think we ran out of gas against EL and Bangor in the second half,” Graffam said. “Since then, we’ve developed a little bit of a bench. We’ve trusted them. They’re working hard in practice. They’re getting to play and they’ve got their roles down.”

The stretch included tough road wins at Lawrence and South Portland, then a revenge win at home against then-unbeaten Bangor, 53-47, last Wednesday night.

The bench played a big part in that victory, too, led by junior forwards Patrick Paine and Tanner Herrick. Both did yeomen’s work on the offensive boards and gave the Vikings a boost by combining for seven points in the second quarter, when they converted a 10-10 tie into a 25-19 lead that the Vikings would never relinquish.

Paine also had the difficult assignment of covering Bangor star, and Oxford Hills transfer, Matt Fleming after starting center Colton Carson went to the bench with his second foul late in the first quarter.

“He’s really been giving us some great minutes. Against South Portland he did. Against Portland, to a certain extent, and again (against Bangor),” Graffam said of Paine. “He’s really playing well right now.”

The Vikings may need their bench even more this week when they face Lewiston, Cony and Greely, three teams that like to push the tempo and wear down opponents.

CONFIDENCE IN WALTON REMAINS HIGH

Spruce Mountain forward Tate Walton will be the first one to tell you that he was disappointed with his performance against Hall-Dale High School on Thursday night, but coach Scott Bessey’s confidence in the senior is not shaken at all.

“He is struggling right now in there …” Bessey said. “We have got his back. That was his first big game. He came off the bench last year, played a few minutes here and there, rededicated himself and ridiculously transformed his body.

“I don’t know if you remember him last year. He has really got himself into an athletic (body) and this was his first big game. It was his first experience in a huge game and he struggled a little bit, but we all got his back.

“We all love him and he will get better.”

Walton finished with five points in the loss for the Phoenix.

RED EDDIES COMING AROUND

Edward Little has taken two last-second losses already this season, one to Oxford Hills off a turnover that turned into a layup to beat the buzzer, another by a free throw to Scarborough. Last year the season began pretty similarly before the Red Eddies found their footing.

Everyone knows how last year finished: With a state Class AA state title. This season, the Eddies have found their stride together, with no clearer example than Friday night’s win at home over Portland.

Guards Hannah Chaput and Grace Fontaine stepped up and scored 39 of the team’s 43 points as Edward Little was down a starter in Chantel Ouellette. Normally, Jade Perry is another high scorer for the Eddies, but on Friday the duo of Chaput and Fontaine used the chemistry they’ve been building since the beginning of last season, when Chaput transferred over from Lewiston High School.

With new faces surrounding Fontaine and Chaput, the team has been coming together to find where the two scorers like the ball. And it’s working.

“Give credit to those two girls, they knocked down a ton of shots,” Cifelli said. “Again, it’s one of our first games where I felt like we really played together well as a team. Kids were getting them open, they knew they had the hot hand so they were trying to set up some screens and find ways to be creative and get them looks.”

One of the players who stepped up Friday — and will need to continue to play well as the season winds down into the playoffs — is Mikaela Scott, who grabbed multiple rebounds, including a few on offense to keep possessions alive.

“Some of our own issues with injuries and illnesses, Mikaela Scott gave us a lot of good minutes today,” Cifelli said. “Maybe she didn’t show up in the scoring column, but she had a lot of big rebounds and did a good job cutting their post player.”

Staff editor Tony Blasi contributed to this report.