PARIS — Oxford Hills pulled away from Edward Little with pressing defense, aggressive rebounding and good shooting, and finished Friday’s season opener with a 55-27 Class AA North girls basketball victory.

The Vikings’ defense was active and aggressive in the first half, leading to six steals in the opening two quarters, including three by one-time Red Eddies player Brooklyn Alexander, who turned two of the turnovers into quick layups.

“I love that our kids get after it from beginning to end; our bench is involved, it’s great,” Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier said. “This group has come together, and it’s just fun and exciting. We will have our ups and downs but the great thing is that their positive energy is going to be contagious.”

Alexander scored 12 points, all in the first half. She said she was nervous to play against her former team. 

“I was nervous because that’s my old school, so it’s all my friends and people in the crowd I know, so I wanted to play good,” said Alexander, who played for Edward Little her freshman and sophomore seasons. “I liked how hype the crowd was, it definitely got me going.”

Oxford Hills (1-0) freshman Ella Pelletier added 11 points in the first half, including a putback on which she was fouled late in the second quarter. She made the free throw with 1:14 remaining to put the Vikings up 27-14.

Nate Pelletier said his freshman daughter played well in her first varsity game and at a relatively new position.

“She grew up playing point guard her whole life and then she grew a little bit, and now she plays post,” Nate Pelletier said of his freshman daughter. “And this is probably the first time in her career she’s had to play post, and she’s just doing whatever the team needs, and she’s doing a good job.

“She knows she needs to get some rebounds and try to be a force inside, and with some of the teams we (face) this season with 6-footers there will be some battles. I was impressed with her. There are going to be some ups and downs, but she kept her composure tonight.”

Junior Erin Cowie had a team-high four points for Edward Little after two quarters. The Eddies have only three seniors and two juniors, so many underclassmen got playing time Friday night. 

“We made that decision to get them going because it gives us a lot more depth than we’ve had in the last two seasons,” Edward Little coach Chris Cifelli said of playing his younger players. “There’s no better thing than getting the experience instead of sitting and watching, and so we think it could pay some dividends down the stretch. 

“The good takeaway,” Cifelli added, “was I thought we played 32 minutes, still creating turnovers at the end of the game, the bench was really energized and I thought we had some senior leadership trying to teach the younger kids some things.”

CRANKING UP THE PRESSURE

Edward Little (0-1) opened the game’s scoring with a 3-pointer by senior Nikki Clark, and stayed with Oxford Hills for most of the first quarter. Alexander made a basket that put the Vikings up 9-7 with 3:20 left in the first quarter, and Oxford Hills continued to build its lead for remainder of the half. 

Turnovers hampered the Red Eddies (0-1), as the Vikings switched between a full-court press and trapping the Edward Little ball handlers at midcourt.

In the third quarter, Pelletier continued her effectiveness around the hoop on both ends, gathering five more rebounds, including four on the offensive end. 

Junior Sierra Carson also was active for Oxford Hills in the third, pulling in three rebounds, two steals and four points. The Vikings never let up defensively, continuing to consistently press the young Red Eddies.

Carson had an impressive moment on both ends of the court when she stole the ball, drove all the way to the hoop and made a layup while getting fouled. Carson hit the free throw with 2:20 left in the third to push the Vikings’ advantage to 40-17.

Pelletier led all scorers with 16 points.

Clark hit two 3-pointers and led Edward Little with six points.

In the fourth, Red Eddies freshman Layla Facchiano scored three points, blocked a shot and made a steal. She finished with five points in her first varsity game.

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