Oxford Hills players celebrate after winning the Class AA state championship Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena. Portland Press Herald photo by Derek Davis

PORTLAND — In the biggest game of the season, it seemed Julia Colby couldn’t miss.

The Oxford Hills junior scored 34 points to help the Vikings beat Scarborough 55-45 and capture the school’s first girls basketball state championship in the Class AA title game at Cross Insurance Arena on Saturday.

Colby scored 14 consecutive points at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth to help put the Red Storm away. Her 34 points is a Class AA state championship record.

“She does so much that it’s tough for me to recognize sometimes,” Pelletier said. “But that’s awesome, (14) straight for her. In the end. She wanted the ball in her hands and she made some free throws.”

Colby also set AA state championship records for most free throws (12) and field goals made (10). Oxford Hills’ 55 points is an AA title game record, as well.

The Vikings used defense to take over the game in the first half. Their zone, with Colby and Cecelia Dieterich on the wings and the long-armed Jade Smedberg at the top, causes many teams problems, and Scarborough was no different.


Oxford Hills found every passing lane in the first half, whether pressing in the backcourt or hounding ball-handlers in the front-court, which led to breakaway after breakaway.

Dieterich started many of those fast breaks, making five of her seven steals in the first half.

Oxford Hills players celebrate as Maggie Hartnett (11) and Cecelia Dieterich come off the floor for a timeout following a strong start to the Class AA state championship at Cross Insurance Arena on Saturday. Portland Press Herald photo by Derek Davis

“I think we played a lot of zone in the half-court, and our big girl up front, Jade, she gets a lot of tips, which allows me to get a lot of steals on the wing because she’s so tall,” Dieterich said.

Dieterich finished one breakaway by finding Colby with a behind-the-back bounce pass for an easy layup to give Oxford Hills a 14-4 edge just before the first-quarter buzzer.

“I think when we steal the ball in our press it gives us a lot of energy and confidence,” Colby said. “When I see someone steal I think everyone on our team tries to run towards the ball.”

“I think we were just kind of rattled at the start, for sure,” Scarborough coach Mike Giordano said. “We had respect for (Colby) coming in, she might be the best point guard in the state, and she’s a kid that does a lot of things really well.”


On top of her five steals, Dieterich also dished out six assists in the first half. Colby was on the receiving end of a few of those and finished with 11 points before the break.

Bailey Whitney of Oxford Hills looks to score against Scarborough defenders during 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

In the second quarter, Madison Blanche hit a 3-pointer and then a layup on back-to-back possessions to pull the Red Storm within five points. The Vikings kept pressing and harassing ball-handlers, though, and built a 23-12 lead by halftime.

Scarborough’s leading scorer in the regular season, Julia Freeman, was obviously a point of focus in the week of preparation leading up to Saturday’s game, but it was the supporting players who gave the Vikings trouble.

Jocelyn Couture and Blanche scored 14 and 16 points, respectively, to help keep Scarborough within striking distance. Both had strong second halves.

“At the end, we had to stop everybody,” Pelletier said. “The Blanche girl goes to the rim, the Couture girl was going to the rim. … We did enough to win and we have a gold ball, first one in school history.”

Dieterich started the third quarter with two more steals in the opening minute that were turned into four more Oxford Hills points points.


Blanche hit a layup and a 3-pointer to draw the Red Storm to within seven points with 4:35 left in the quarter.

That’s when Colby took over. She scored six more points in the third to help the Vikings keep a comfortable lead, then scored the team’s first 12 points to start the fourth.

Oxford Hills players celebrate with the gold ball after defeating Scarborough in the Class AA girls basketball state championship at Cross Insurance Arena on Saturday. Portland Press Herald photo by Derek Davis

“That’s just her, it’s who she is,” Pelletier said. “She has ice water in her veins, her emotions don’t go up and down. She might have cracked a smile by winning a gold ball, but that’s what you’re going to get from her. As an athlete, that’s what you’re looking for.”

Free throws were a big factor for the Vikings late in the game. The Red Storm cut the deficit to 29-25 with 2:50 left in the third, which was a little too close for Oxford HIlls’ comfort.

The Vikings continued to push the ball and pressure the Scarborough ball-handlers in an effort increase the lead.

“We want to get in transition and 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, ‘If we get to 50 points, we are going to win this game.’ We got to 55 and it was close.”


Blanche hit another trey with five minutes remaining in the game to cut Oxford Hills’ lead to 41-34. Then Colby went back to work, hitting two free throws and another 3-pointer to extend the Vikings’ lead to 46-37 with 3:15 left in the game.

Colby made nine of her 10 free throws in the final frame to help clinch the school’s first title.

“She does things all year where I say, ‘What’d she have, 12 points?’ And all of a sudden she has 25,” Pelletier said. “And she just does all the little things and made her free throws down the stretch. If we don’t make those free throws, the game would have been a lot closer.”

The win means just as much to the Oxford HIlls players and coaches as knowing their community was with them every step of the way.

“They’re all so supportive and you can see there were a lot of them out here today, so it’s awesome,” Dieterich said. “Not only for us but for them, too.”

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

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

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