Edward Little’s Jamaine Luizzo, middle, battles with Oxford Hills’ and Keegan Watson, left and Tanner Herrick, right, for position under the basket during Monday’s game in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — What looked to be just a slow start by Edward Little proved to be a solid defensive performance from the underdog Vikings. 

Oxford Hills went blow for blow with the top team in Class AA North into the fourth quarter before the Red Eddies pulled away for a 51-41 win. 

The two teams will meet again on Wednesday at Oxford Hills.

The Eddies (10-2) struggled to find any offensive rhythm to start the game, and coach Mike Adams credited the Vikings’ scheme and toughness. 

“Coach (Scott) Graffam is a great defensive coach and his kids are tough as nails,” Adams said. “They defend the ball well, they keep the ball in front of you and they rebound well. They’re just really solid defensively and they took a lot of things we were trying to do away. We didn’t play very well but I think a bigger credit was how solid they were defensively. They’re young and they’re learning how to play, they’ve been in every game this year, so in two days at Oxford Hills it could be the other way around.”

Cam Yorke grabbed four rebounds in the first quarter and made a basket to give the Eddies a 12-7 advantage after one quarter, but in the second the Vikings (2-11) roared back. 

Colby Huckins started to attack the rim, something the Oxford Hills junior has been working on this year, and scored back-to-back buckets to reel in the Eddies. Huckins also hit three free throws in the quarter while freshman Elias Soehren hit a couple shots to bring the Vikings within one point at halftime. 

Huckins finished the game with a team-high 13 points.

“He’s been playing really well for us and he probably should have shot eight more foul shots in my opinion for this game and he probably would have made six or seven of them,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “He was playing really aggressive and I am really pleased with his development.” 

Edward Little’s John Shea was held to just one basket in the first half, while Vikings forward Patrick Paine hauled in six rebounds, two offensive, in Oxford Hills’ huge performance in the paint in the first half.

“I was telling Mike (Adams) before the game that there was something about ‘EL still owns the paint,’” Graffam said. “He said until someone takes the paint away, we are going to use it. That’s what we tried to do. I thought for three quarters we did well but then Shea sort of wore us down in the fourth and we couldn’t double him as well.”

Shea did just that, scoring three of Edward Little’s first four baskets to start the second half. The sophomore finished the game with 10 points. 

“I just had to be more aggressive,” Shea said. “My teammates found me in certain ways and made me able to score easier in the second half. It’s more of a mindset. I just had to get more physical and so that’s what I did and it worked out for us.”

The Vikings got points from five scorers in the third to keep the game close. Shea got a technical foul after fouling a player late in the third and let Huckins hit two free throws to make it a two-point game before the fourth quarter. 

“The technical was huge and that’s what we told him,” Adams said. “You have to learn that. Good players don’t have to react. That was just a cumulative thing that was building for a while. Hopefully he will learn from that, we’ll learn from that, and he’ll be a better player.”

Oxford Hills was aggressive but quickly found itself in the double bonus, allowing EL to make 11 of 12 free throw attempts in the final frame to pull away. 

Yorke was a big part of EL’s offense in the fourth, scoring 10 in the quarter to help the Eddies win by 10. EL pressed on defense and played smarter to keep the Vikings at bay.

“We are really unselfish and we shared the ball better in the second half,” Adams said. “I thought our zone in the third quarter did a better job of keeping the basketball in front. I thought earlier in the game they got by us whenever they wanted.”


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