Julia Colby of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School brings the ball up the court while being defended by Caroline Hammond of Edward Little during the third period in Auburn on Friday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — It took half a quarter for the Oxford Hills wheels to start turning, but the Vikings quickly got their sports-car offense rolling. 

A strong second quarter and a suffocating press defense then helped propel Oxford Hills to a 67-35 Class AA North girls basketball victory on the road at Edward Little on Friday. 

For the first four minutes the Vikings (6-0) couldn’t find the bottom of the net. Edward Little (0-7) played a strong defense and forced multiple turnovers, but only took a 2-0 lead. 

A free throw by Cecelia Dieterich with 3:36 left in the first quarter got Oxford Hills on the board, but EL’s Caroline Hammond hit a 3-pointer to put the Red Eddies up 5-1 with 3:20 left. 

Oxford Hills quickly found its stride, and the Vikings, who average 65 points per game, started to do what they do best. 

Julia Colby scored on a floater and then two quick layups to give the Vikings the lead in the blink of an eye and after one quarter the Vikings led 13-7. 

“I thought we were getting some good looks, but coming out of Christmas we’ve had four days off and it’s a weird start time,” Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier said. “It came together a bit and I think we finished the quarter with 13 points, which isn’t a bad number to get to especially after you don’t score for four minutes.”

For Oxford Hills junior Cassidy Dumont, it was all about staying the course. 

“We had to keep possessing the basketball and making sure we were taking care of it, and shots would start falling once we had it more,” Dumont said.

Shots did indeed start to fall for Dumont, who opened the second-quarter scoring for the Vikings with a 3-pointer, followed by seven more points in the quarter. Dumont finished the game with a game-high 14 points, as did Colby. 

“Cassidy is just a solid player all around,” Pelletier said. “She’s a great vocal leader for us and consistently scoring 12-15 points for us. She’s been like that the last couple of years. She’s a great compliment to Julia and Cecelia because she does everything well.”

Edward Little did what it could on offense, with four different player scoring in the second quarter. Aiwen Maiwen led the Eddies with five points in the second quarter, but baskets did not come easy for EL due in part to Oxford Hills’ ferocious press. 

“We have been really working on our rotations in our press,” Pelletier said. “It’s a man-to-man press, but we try to run and jump a little bit and it causes some chaos. We have been working at it and things are starting to come together. We still have some wrinkles that we have to deal with, but overall it’s gone really well for us.”

Edward Little coach Chris Cifelli said that the man-to-man press, unlike a zone press that many teams run, is difficult to get through because of its uniqueness. 

“It’s very aggressive and it’s one of those things that’s hard to replicate in practice,” Cifelli said. “When that happens you’re kind of learning on the job. The problem is they’re so good at finishing so it’s hard to learn on the fly. They do a nice job, too, of not giving up in the press.”

EL’s Emily Piper scored five of her seven total points in the first half and was a key reason that the Vikings didn’t pull away earlier, according to Cifelli. 

“I liked how we came out strong, and defensively we did a couple of things that surprised them,” Cifelli said. “Early on, because they couldn’t score they couldn’t set up their press, so that was a big part of it. I also liked that we hit some open shots. I thought Emily Piper stepped up and stopped a couple of their runs on some good looks.”

In the third quarter, five players for Oxford Hills scored to take its lead to 54-23 after three quarters. Viktoria Sugars didn’t score in the third, but the junior forward did grab three rebounds and was a force in the post all game long. 

“She’s coming off a shoulder injury… but she’s sort of a physical post player that has helped us slow down the game a little bit,” Pelletier said. “She doesn’t freak out when the ball hits her hands and she’s very methodical and makes good decisions. Right now it’s just about getting her more minutes.”

Dumont has enjoyed having Sugars on the floor with her as it adds a new dimension to the team. 

“It’s awesome,” Dumont said. “We haven’t really had a strong post presence since I’ve been there, and she’s come in and put in a lot of work and it’s working out for her and I am really happy for her.”

Despite the scoreboard, Cifelli was impressed with his team’s defense against one of the top-scoring teams in Maine. 

“We turned them over a lot in the first half,” Cifelli said. “We had 13, ourselves, but I thought for the first half and some of the third we did well in the quarter-court defense.”

Freshman Erin Cowie scored seven points in the fourth quarter for Edward Little, one of three players to finish with seven, joining Maiwen and Piper.

Ella Kellogg (14) of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School and Caroline Hammond (10) of Edward Little compete for a rebound in Auburn on Friday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Caroline Hammond of Edward Little High School battles for a loose ball during Friday’s game against Oxford Hills in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Kaelynn Girouard of Edward Little High School picks up a loose ball during Friday’s game against Oxford Hills in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Chantel Ouellette of Edward Little High School looks to pass between Oxford Hills defenders during Friday’s game in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Julia Colby of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School breaks up the court while being defended by Kaelynn Girouard of Edward Little during the first half in Auburn on Friday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Cecelia Dieterich of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School drives against Brooklyn Alexander, left, and Madisyn Turcotte of Edward Little during the first half in Auburn on Friday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Cassidy Dumont of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School makes a long pass during the first half of Friday’s game against Edward Little in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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