Oxford Hills’ Spencer Strong drives to the basket against Cony’s Bryan Stratton, left and Ashton Cunningham during Thursday’s basketball game in Paris. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)

PARIS — At one point earlier this season, before the calendar flipped, Cony would have been exactly the kind of team Oxford Hills did not want to face.

Oxford Hills has learned how to settle itself down over the first half of the season, however, and showed it had the antidote for the kind of chaos the Rams like to create on the court Thursday night.

The Vikings jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back, cruising to a 65-44 win over Cony.

Spencer Strong led all scorers with 24 points to go with four rebounds and four assists for Oxford Hills (6-4), while Colton Carson added 15 points and nine rebounds.

Luke Briggs paced Cony (7-3) with 10 points.

Oxford Hills made its first four shots of the game, highlighted by a Strong 3-pointer, to sprint out to the quick lead.

After Dakota Dearborn (eight points) got the Rams their first bucket nearly three minutes into the game, Carson scored on back-to-back layups to make it a 13-2 Vikings.

Cony pulled to within 13-6 by the end of the period. But good ball movement against Cony’s press and in the half-court helped the Vikings start the second quarter even better than the first, highlighted by seven points from Strong as part of a 13-2 run that made it 26-8.

“Great start,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “We couldn’t play any better than that. We’ve gotten better against pressure. We’re not turning the ball over as much when teams come to get us. We’re playing smarter. Earlier in the season, we really struggled with pressure.”

Oxford Hills turned the tables on Cony, particularly with senior stopper Janek Luksza assigned to guard Cony catalyst point guard Simon McCormick (three points). The Rams shot just 5-for-23 from the floor in the first half, including 0-for-8 from beyond the 3-point arc.

“Their defense took us out of stuff that we wanted to do,” Cony coach T.J. Maines said. “We had some open looks that we still forced with quick shots. I just never felt we were comfortable in the first half.”

“Janek is so good defensively that we can count on him taking one of their guys out of the game,” Graffam said. “Unless you’ve got two really good scorers, you’re going to struggle with that.”

Eleven points from Strong in the second quarter staked the Vikings to a 36-11 halftime lead.

Cony started the second half with more energy and got its first 3-pointer in nine attempts from McCormick to cut the 25-point deficit to 18 late in the third but never seriously threatened.

“I didn’t think we played hard enough in the first half. I didn’t think we played with a lot of pride,” Maines said. “Second half, I thought we did. I thought it was a much different effort from guys on the bench to the kids that were on the floor. There was much more engagement and playing the way that I expect us to play. That’s on me. I didn’t prepare the kids enough for what they were going to face today.”

“We got caught up in it a little bit and took some bad shots. We were up so much at halftime, they couldn’t help but want to play up and down (the court),” Graffam said. “Once we started slowing it down, the fourth quarter, we really took care of business.”

The crowd reacts after Oxford Hills’ Jesse Leonard made a great move to get open for a jump shot during Thursday’s basketball game in Paris.  At left sitting on a big comfy couch is Ella Pelletier who was with a friend who won a raffle that allowed them to lounge in the comfortable front-row couch.  (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)

Oxford Hills’ Garrett Record left and Cony’s Simon McCormick scramble for a loose ball during the first half of Thursday’s game in Paris. An alert teammate called a time out for Oxford Hills. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)

Oxford Hills’ Spencer Strong pulls up for a jump shot as Cony’s Ashton Cunningham, left and Nick Wilcott defend during Thursday’s basketball game in Paris. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)

Oxford Hills’ Spencer Strong puts up a floater in the lane between Cony’s Brian Stratton, left and Nick Wilcott during Thursday’s basketball game in Paris. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)

Oxford Hills’ Garrett Record makes an easy layup after making a steal during Thursday’s basketball game in Paris. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)

Oxford Hills boys’ basketball coach Scott Graffam looks on during Thursday’s basketball game in Paris. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)

Oxford Hills boys’ basketball coach Scott Graffam looks on during Thursday’s basketball game in Paris. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)

Cony boys’ basketball coach Thomas Maines gives fist bumps during a time out at Thursday’s basketball game in Paris. (SUN JOURNAL PHOTO BY RUSS DILLINGHAM)