SOUTH PARIS — Eli Soehren made some big kicks for the Oxford Hills football team last fall.

But he saved the biggest field goal of his freshman year for Tuesday night.

Soehren’s 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left in regulation sent the Vikings and Windham Eagles into overtime, which Oxford Hills dominated to pick up a 50-42 Class AA North boys basketball win.

Hayden Paine scored seven of his game-high 16 points in overtime to lead the Vikings (4-13), who avenged a 35-30 loss to the Eagles exactly one month earlier. Tanner Herrick added 10 points and Soehren nine points.

Kaleb Cidre paced the Eagles (6-11) with 11 points and five steals, while Chris Naylor added nine points.

Oxford Hills, which never led during regulation, rallied from a 10-0 deficit early and trailed 37-33 with 90 seconds left. Herrick made one of two free throws to trim the margin to three, providing the Vikings a chance to tie after a Windham turnover.

Advertisement

The Vikings initially tried to get a quick two points but missed a pair of layups from almost point-blank range. Yet they still retained possession and took a time out with 13.1 seconds left to draw up a play.

“It was designed first for Eli and then for Jesse (Leonard),” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “Eli ended up with the ball in a spot where he could shoot it.”

Credit Paine with finding Soehren open a little to the left of the top of the 3-point arc with the perfect pass.

“We had a play going in,” Soehren said, “and it didn’t work out right, what we wanted. But we got it to Hayden and he made a great pass out and I was wide open. I knew I was going to shoot that.”

“Guys did a good job staying true to our defense on that last possession,” Windham coach Chad Pulkkinen said. “But we can’t give them three opportunities to make a shot to force overtime. Those are just championship plays that you have to have.”

The Vikings forced Naylor to heave up an awkward, off-balance shot from the corner at the buzzer to ensure overtime.

Advertisement

Will Mannette sank a pair of free throws to give the Eagles the first lead in the extra session, but they went the first three minutes without a field goal.

Oxford Hills seized the opportunity with back-to-back buckets by Hayden Paine, who Patrick Paine found both times cutting to the hoop. The second hoop also resulted in a foul, and Hayden Paine nailed the free throw to make it 42-39 Vikings with 2:57 to go.

“We were more patient in the second half,” Graffam said. “In the overtime, especially, we got the ball to the baseline and then into the bucket, two or three right in a row. That made the difference. The execution at the end was good.”

Naylor’s hoop with one minute left pulled the Eagles within 44-42, but Herrick and Keegan Watson converted 4-of-4 free throws in the final 42 seconds and Hayden Paine made a layup to seal it.

Plagued by 24 turnovers over the first three quarters, Oxford Hills had to dig its way out of the early 10-0 hole, yet trailed by only four, 24-20, at halftime. That was despite Windham shooting 4-for-7 from 3-point range and shutting off the paint at the other end with its 2-3 zone.

“We turned it over for three-and-a-half quarters and then all of a sudden didn’t,” Graffam said. “Maybe (Windham) ran out of gas. The game down there was very similar to this one. They were ahead most of the game and we had a chance to catch them and beat them, but we didn’t (in the first game).”

Advertisement

The Vikings tied it at 25-25 with a Herrick trey early in the second half. Windham, meanwhile, cooled off significantly from beyond the arc in the second half and overtime (1-for-10), yet it still held a 34-29 lead heading into the fourth.

“Oxford Hills is known around the state for getting you into a dogfight no matter who you are, where you are,” Pulkkinen said. “We got great shots. We got a lot of foul shots, we just missed a lot of foul shots, a lot of open shots. We got the shots we wanted. Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in.”

The win not only gave Oxford Hills a shot of confidence but vaulted it out of the No. 8 spot in the Class AA North Heal point standings. It has a chance to move up even more, perhaps as high as No. 6, if it can beat Bangor in Wednesday night’s regular-season finale (6:30 p.m.) at home.

“This will be way bigger if we come out tomorrow and beat them. A six seed would be great.” Soehren said. “We’re executing way better than we have been.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.