PARIS — Oxford Hills’ 65-37 basketball victory over Mt. Blue was pick-me-up for the Vikings after suffering a couple of tough losses the past week.

For the Cougars, it was a chance to see how they held up against Oxford Hills’ physicality.

“I like the fact that we withstood some of the physical play,” Mt. Blue coach Troy Norton said. “The referees were definitely letting the kids play, which was good. We saw some glimpses of us playing more physical, protecting the ball. Being a young team, that’s what we need to work on.”

The Vikings set the tempo the entire game, with their wide leads vacillating between 10 or 20 points. By halftime, Oxford Hills was firmly in command with a 27-14 lead.

“Well, you know, that’s a young team,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “They are struggling to get their identity. They don’t really have a post presence.

“Our kids are battle-tested. Even though we are young, all of our younger kids play AAU all of the time. I am sure (Cougars) do, too. We are bigger and stronger than them. (Mt. Blue) is going to be good. There is no question about it.”

Graffam praised his squad for playing at a consistent level.

When we play EL, we are playing at the same level against (the Red Eddies). We had a bad game over at Leavitt. We got after the (Cougars) pretty well tonight.”

Sophomore Cole Pulkkinen demonstrated his skills as a perimeter shooter, scoring a game-high 17 points and dropping in three of Oxford Hills’ four 3-pointers. Teammate Teigan Pelletier, a freshman, turned in an 11-point performance.

“We moved the ball better than we did the last couple of games we lost,” Pulkkinen said. “We talked better on defense. We just played better as a team.”

The Vikings’ defense strong-armed the Cougars’ offense, holding them to single-digit scoring for three quarters before Mt. Blue rattled off 14 points in the last quarter. 

Chandler Briggs, who made two of the team’s four 3-pointers, and Evans Sterling led the Cougars with eight points apiece. Jayden Meader went 4-for-6 at the foul line and scored six points. Teammate Zach Poisson added seven points.

“(The season) has been a little bit of a grind,” Norton said. “We are just excited to be playing, and this is way more (playing time) than we expected. We are obviously a young team. We are going to learn from it and we will be better in the future.”

The Cougars, the No. 8 seed, next host No. 9 Gardiner in the quarterfinal round of the central Maine playoffs Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The Viking play at Edward Little on Saturday afternoon.

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