LEWISTON — Lewiston scored the final six points to emerge from a back-and-forth fourth quarter with a 51-46 victory over Oxford Hills in a Class AA North boys basketball game Thursday on Coach Masse Court.

“I’m really proud of my guys, how they just came out and just kept working,” Blue Devils coach Elgin Physic said. “It’s a really big win for our program — obviously, Oxford Hills is No. 1 — it’s just a big game.”

Lewiston, which has won five straight games, had several players make important plays throughout the game. In the closing minutes, it was Jibril Holloman, Caden Boone, Eli Bigelow and Yusuf Dakane who stepped up after the previously unbeaten Vikings (7-1) took a 46-45 lead with about three minutes remaining.

“We didn’t back down from them,” Bigelow said.

The Blue Devils (6-2) went ahead for good on a putback by Holloman with 2:10 left. Following a few stops by both teams, Lewiston called a timeout and set up a play. One of the contingency plans was for the players to spread out the Oxford Hills defense, and doing so allowed Boone to break free and score a layup — his only basket of the game — to make it 49-46.

Both defenses again made stops. Oxford Hills’ Teigan Pelletier, who scored a game-high 19 points, pulled down a defensive rebound with 26 seconds remaining and dribbled the ball up the court until he was fouled with 17.9 seconds remaining.


The Vikings called a timeout to set up a play. In the Lewiston huddle, Physic urged the Blue Devils to not allow Oxford Hills the chance at a 3-pointer.

“Basically, I said, ‘I would give up the two, just don’t let them shoot the 3,'” Physic said, later adding, “I just wanted to make sure they didn’t give up the 3 — I didn’t want any more Pelletier magic today.”

However, Pelletier, known for the clutch shots he made in last winter’s playoffs, did get off a 3-pointer.

Tanner Bickford received the inbounds pass and quickly passed to Pelletier. A defensive switch gave Pelletier a brief opening, and he launched a shot from about 3 feet beyond the 3-point line. Dakane closed the gap quickly and jumped high enough to get his hand near the release of Pelletier’s shot, which fell short.

Boone grabbed the rebound from a scrum of Lewiston and Oxford Hills players. He passed to Dakane, who threw the ball upcourt to Holloman, but Oxford Hills’ Eli Soehren caught up and forced Holloman to shoot high off the backboard. Bigelow pulled down the offensive rebound and was fouled with two seconds remaining in the game.

Bigelow made both free throws to seal the victory over the defending AA North champions. He finished with eight points and shot 4 for 4 at the foul line.


“They have all the hype,” Bigelow said. “Everyone thinks they’re just going to have an easy path to the championship, Class AA’s theirs, there’s really no one in competition. So going into that, it’s like, ‘We have nothing to lose, so why don’t we just go out there and give it everything they have and see what happens?’

“And look what happened, we pulled out a win.”

Dakane led Lewiston with 17 points. Michael Klick added 13 and Holloman scored nine.

“They’re good, there’s no question about it,” Vikings coach Scott Graffam said of Lewiston. “I thought we did a decent job on Yusuf, but we couldn’t score. We didn’t shoot the ball very well, and that’s more to do with their defense, I think, than anything. And then down the stretch we made some silly decisions that cost us the game.”

Tanner Bickford scored 11 — three 3s and a two-point basket, most of those made shots coming at key moments — for Oxford Hills and Holden Shaw had eight.

The Vikings were playing without Cole Pulkinnen, one of their top scorers, and Jake Carson, who missed the game due to illness. Bigelow noted the impact of their absences, but Graffam refused to use it as an excuse.


“I expected it to be a tight game. That’s a quality team. They’re good,” Graffam said. “We struggled to score, that was part of the issue. That’s because they’re a good defensive team.”

Lewiston, which is ranked ninth in the latest Varsity Maine boys basketball poll, maintained the lead for most of the first three quarters.

Oxford Hills, No. 1 in the Varsity Maine poll, tied the score a few times but didn’t take its first lead until about a minute remained in the third quarter. As they did the first two quarters, the Vikings finished the third strong and took a 37-35 lead into the final period.

The teams exchanged small leads for most of the fourth — usually trading a basket for a basket — until the Blue Devils made their final push.

In the teams’ first meeting on Dec. 13 in Paris, Lewiston had a strong third quarter to get within four points, but Oxford Hills took control in the fourth and claimed a 56-44 victory. In Thursday’s rematch, the Blue Devils finished strong to earn their first win over the Vikings since Physic took over the program prior to last season.

“We didn’t execute perfectly, but we executed when we needed to execute,” Physic said.


Last month’s meeting featured a lot of foul calls and key players from both teams in foul trouble. Physic and Graffam both noted that Thursday’s contest was much more physical with a lot less fouls.

“The game was played like how a game should be played. There wasn’t a lot of fouls called, and, you know, that’s fine. Sometimes kids need to understand that that’s how it’s going to be,” Graffam said.

Physic was proud that the Blue Devils were unfazed by the physical play.

“We all know Oxford Hills is a physical team, and I thought our kids did a good job of not caving into physical contact,” Physic said. “The refs let us play. (If) we didn’t get a foul call, we just kept being relentless and kept at it, kept at it, kept at it, kept being tough.”

Lewiston built leads in the first and second quarters, but Oxford Hills closed both periods with scoring spurts to close the gap.

The Blue Devils scored the game’s first five points on a 3-pointer by Dakane and a basket by Holloman.


The Vikings battled back to tie the score at 7-7, but a pair of baskets by Bigelow put Lewiston ahead 11-7. Again, Oxford Hills fought back with a pair of buckets, including a putback by Shaw in the final seconds to even the score at 11-11 heading into the second quarter.

Dakane scored the first seven points of the second to give the Devils an 18-11 advantage. It took the Vikings more than four minutes to score their first points of the quarter. Soon after they did, Klick drained a couple of corner 3s to add to Lewiston’s lead.

Oxford Hills, though, scored the final five points of the half, including a trey by Soehren, and went into halftime only trailing by three points, 24-21.

“We usually do play well at the end of quarters because we play fairly smart,” Graffam said. “We had a one-point lead tonight with less than three minutes to go, and we didn’t get good looks, and they did a good job executing, scoring at the end.”

The Vikings, who were coming off a thrilling come-from-behind win over Portland on Tuesday, play again Saturday at winless Massabesic (0-6).

Lewiston also plays on the road Saturday, at high-scoring Noble (3-3), which has scored at least 56 points in each of its six games.

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