PORTLAND  — Oxford Hills’ gallantry was admirable in the the fourth quarter, but defusing Cheverus’ second-half momentum became impossible in Saturday’s Class AA North seminal game at Cross Insurance Arena.

The second-ranked Stags came to life in the second half and ran away with a 52-36 victory over the top-ranked Vikings.

“Our third quarters haven’t been great all year,” Cheverus coach Bill Goodman said. “I find my team just does better when I yell at them. It was too quiet, so I started yelling at them.”

Cheverus (17-3) advance to next Saturday’s state title game, where it will face the winner of the Class AA South final between No. 2 Scarborough (16-4) square off against No. 1 Gorham (17-3), which was played late Saturday.

The Vikings, who won the two most recent Class AA state championships, in 2019 and 2020, finish the season at 18-3.

Maddie Fitzpatrick scored a game-high with 19 points and Emma Lizotte added 13 for Cheverus. The Vikings were led by freshman Ella Pelletier’s 16 points and 15 rebounds. Brooklyn Alexander contributed 10 points.

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After the first half ended in an 18-18 tie, the Stags turned to the long-range stuff in the third quarter and went on a 9-1 run take a 30-21 lead. Maeve Kelly started it with a 3-pointer and Lilian Singleton followed with another.

The Vikings struggled to score and mustered only three points in the period — all free throws by Pelletier.

The Stags continued to build their lead in the fourth quarter, while the Vikes struggled to hit their marks.

“You’ve got to make baskets if you want to win the game,” Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier said. “We just not buy a basket. I thought we were getting great looks. At the end of the day you have to make baskets.”

The Vikings managed to dent the deficit but couldn’t mount a sustained rally, and Cheverus won its first AA North title and earned its first trip to a state championship game.

“I don’t think anyone was worried (about Oxford Hills) closing, in,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think we all trust each other. It just turned out so well because we believe in each other.”

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The Vikings and the Stags faced off twice during the regular season and split a pair of close matchups, Cheverus winning 62-59 on Jan. 22 and Oxford Hills evening the season series with a 49-48 overtime win Jan. 31.

Saturday’s regional final showdown was another tight matchup for the first two quarters.

Cheverus’ shots weren’t falling early, and the Vikings capitalized on the misses and several turnovers to build a 11-7 lead.

The Stags didn’t score until 4 minutes, 27 seconds into the first quarter, after which their offense showed signs of life, but Oxford Hills’ defense held them in check for most of the period.

The second quarter got physical in a hurry, and the Vikings’ shooting slowly cooled, allowing the Stags to take a 16-15 lead. Molly Corbett also picked up her third foul at 4:35, putting a little more pressure on Oxford Hills.

From there, both teams slugged it out to an 18-18 tie.

“I thought defensively in the first half, we did exactly what we wanted to do — hold them to 18 points,” Pelletier said.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated to correct Cheverus’ prior state title game history. This is the program’s first time reaching a state final.

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