Julia Colby of Oxford Hills goes behind the back to avoid Julia Freeman of Scarborough during the Class AA state championship at Cross Insurance Arena on Saturday. Portland Press Herald photo by Derek Davis

PORTLAND — When asked why Julia Colby and Cecilia Dieterich play so well together, Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier reached down to his knees, the universal signal for they were meant to be on a basketball court together.

“They’ve been playing together since they were about 2 feet tall,” Pelletier said.

Cecelia Dieterich of Oxford Hills drives to the basket as Jocelyn Couture of Scarborough looks for the steal during the Class AA state championship at Cross Insurance Arena on Saturday. Portland Press Herald photo by Derek Davis

The Vikings all felt 10 feet tall after winning the first state championship in the program’s history with a 55-45 win over Scarborough on Saturday night.

No one stood out more than Colby, who rewrote the AA title game record books with her 34-point performance. But the simpatico relationship between her and fellow junior guard Dieterich is the stuff basketball buffs crave.

Dieterich’s stat line (three points, seven assists, seven steals) won’t get any acknowledgment in the record books, but it was critical to Colby’s eye-popping production. More important, it was the key to Oxford Hills’ game plan to use full-court pressure to make the Red  Storm turn the ball over and then for the Vikings to convert those turnovers into easy offense in transition.

“When we have to sit in the half-court offense, it definitely is tough on us. We want to get in transition and just push, push, push,” Pelletier said. “Their press sort of slowed us down a little bit, which didn’t allow us to get in transition, but I told them going in we’ve got to get to 50 points. If we can get to 50 points, we’re going to win this game.”


The Vikings’ pressure allowed them to set a breakneck pace that had Scarborough reeling early and Oxford Hills streaking out to a 14-4 lead in the first quarter.

“I think when we stole the ball in our press, that gave us a lot of energy and confidence,” Colby said. “When I see someone steal, I just … I think everyone on our team tries to get (out on the break).”

Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier gives a high-five to Julia Colby during a timeout in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Class AA state championship against Scarborough at the Cross Insurance Arena. Portland Press Herald photo by Derek Davis

“Especially in the first half,” Dieterich said. “We got ahead early and then we were able to keep (the lead).”

Dieterich and Colby (three steals) were usually the ones getting in the passing lanes and getting the Vikings running in the other direction, with either one leading the fast break.

Dieterich and Colby were so in tune in transition that the former added a little flare for their final basket of the 14-4 first quarter, spinning a behind-the-back bounce pass to Colby for a fast-break layup.

“Every time I get the ball off a turnover, I look up and she’s always there,” Dieterich said.


“We’ve been playing together since fourth grade, so we know each other pretty well,” she added. “We’ve always been told that we never communicate but somehow know what each other is doing. I think it’s just because we have such a strong connection of playing together so long.”

The duo connected on another Dieterich-steal-Colby-layup sequence to give the Vikings a 41-31 lead early in the fourth quarter. But they’re not just a deadly duo in transition.

Julia Freeman, left, and Kayla Conley of Scarborough look to steal the ball from Cecilia Dieterich of Oxford Hills in the second half of the Class AA girls basketball state championship at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Saturday. Portland Press Herald photo by Derek Davis

With the pace slowed and momentum swinging the Red Storm’s way as they pulled to within six points midway through the fourth quarter, Dieterich, dribbling on the left wing, spotted Colby on the opposite wing for a wide-open 3-pointer. Colby, of course, sank to make it 46-37.

Any plan Scarborough could devise to mount a comeback at that point was essentially moot. As good as the Vikings are at pressing and forcing turnovers, they may be even better at breaking opponents’ pressure, especially now that sophomore guard Cassidy Dumont gives them a third elite ball-handler.

“It’s great to have them on the floor because they’re a press-breaker in themselves,” Pelletier said. “And then all of a sudden we put Cassidy in the mix and it’s just impossible to press us.”

And it’s virtually impossible for two high school players to duplicate the chemistry Colby and Dieterich have on the court, unless they start playing together when they’re knee-high to a basketball coach.



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