Oxford Hills junior Julia Colby is the 2018-19 Sun Journal All-Region Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

At the end of the Class AA state championship, after Julia Colby led Oxford Hills with 34 points en route to the school’s first gold ball in girls’ basketball, coach Nathan Pelletier asked her how many she thought she had scored.

“I don’t know, maybe 12 or 15?” Pelletier recalled Colby saying after the game.

“I had no idea,” Colby said. “I thought it was definitely not that much. A lot of them were assists from Cecilia (Dieterich) and foul shots.”

That’s pretty on-par with her demeanor on the court. The junior guard isn’t the flashiest player on the court, nor is she the loudest or most emotional. There were multiple occasions during the season that Pelletier figured Colby had only scored eight or 10 points in the game, when in reality she scored 20 or 22.

“What’s great about her is she doesn’t get emotional with things, there are no highs or lows with her,” Pelletier said. “She’s even-keel all the time. She won the state championship and it was like she won the first game of the season.

“There aren’t any extreme emotions, just like if she loses a game, you just gotta get back to work. As an athlete, I don’t think you can get a better leader on the court than that.”

Colby stood out throughout the season, and is the 2018-19 Sun Journal All-Region Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

Colby was so nonchalant on the court as a sophomore that prior to the 2018-19 season, Pelletier encouraged Colby to take control of the game and to have more of an active role.

“Last year she would go through spells where, she wouldn’t take plays off but you don’t really see much from her for a quarter and then all of a sudden she would do really well the next quarter,” Pelletier said. “This year the stress was, ‘Hey, I want you to keep that intensity and be involved in the game for all four quarters.’ She definitely did that, and that’s why all the numbers went skyrocketing. Sometimes when you’re one of the top players you need to demand the basketball a little bit more.”

The numbers sure did go up. Colby scored 18.5 points per game, led the team with 6.5 rebounds per game. She also was first on the team steals and second in assists. And she was also named to the AA North all-defense team.

“She’s just the prototypical player that any coach would love to have,” Pelletier said. “I can’t say enough about how awesome she was for us this year.”

Part of the reason the production was so high was because Colby and many of the other juniors have played together on the same team for years.

“I’ve been playing since first grade,” Colby said. “I’ve always loved it, but in fourth grade I started to really like it because that’s when we got a travel team with all the juniors on our team now.”

That team chemistry helps the offense work. In the state championship game, Dieterich, another junior guard, had seven first-half assists, most of them to Colby. The team knew they were going to get Colby’s all, just like every game.

“I think the team always knew they were going to get everything from Julia,” Pelletier said. “They were never worried. In the state game she was the beneficiary of a lot of great passes, but some of the passes she received I’m not sure any other player could make the layups she made after the pass.”

Part of the consistency comes from her work ethic. The loss to Edward Little the year prior also added motivation.

“That loss definitely didn’t feel good, and so we used it as motivation,” Colby said. “We didn’t want it to happen again.”

“She was voted as a team captain, so obviously the team thought she was a leader in her own sense,” Pelletier said. “She’s a leader in work ethic. She didn’t miss a Sunday shoot-around and I had to open the gym every Sunday so she could get more shots up. And that’s her reaching out to me, not me reaching out to her. She just wants to work on her game and the kids see that and they understand she’s passionate about it.”

Oxford Hills loses just two players to graduation before next season. Colby will be returning with the core of the team and as a front-runner for Maine Ms. Basketball.

Oxford Hills junior Julia Colby is the 2018-19 Sun Journal All-Region Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

“She’s, to me, one of the best ball -handlers in the state, and you can match her up with Greely’s Anna DeWolfe,” Pelletier said. “Those are the two guards I’d go with in the state. She’s not flashy, Anna is a great player, we’ve seen her way too many times, but Julia just gets things done.”

Pelletier expects to continue the speed in which his team played at this year, getting shots up left and right and as frequently as possible. However, he knows that teams adjust and have placed a target on the Vikings’ back.

“Next year is about what can we tweak to be a little different from last year,” Pelletier said. “If you try to do the same thing over and over again, then teams learn to defend you. We are going to work this summer on tweaking things. I wouldn’t expect us to slow down at all.”

With changes to Oxford Hills and teams around the state, you can expect Colby to remain constant, scoring more than it seems and never getting too overwhelmed by the moment.

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