PORTLAND — Sierra Carson was back in action and Oxford Hills’ sudden burst of energy in the last five minutes of a Class AA North girls basketball semifinal threw the Vikings’ transition game into overdrive.

The Vikings offense exploded in that fourth quarter and ditched tenacious Hampden Academy 48-35 on Wednesday afternoon at Cross Insurance Arena.

Top-ranked Oxford Hills (19-1) will face second-seeded Cheverus (18-2), which disposed of third-ranked Bangor with a 38-29 semifinal win, in the regional final on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Cross Insurance Arena.

“One of my assistant coaches said it best: ‘We were finally able to get into transition, which we want to do.’ (The Broncos) did a great job of slowing the tempo down and not giving our transition points,” Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier said. “Sierra Carson came in. When she was in foul trouble early in the first half, she sat a lot. She got a big steal for us on a layup. Molly (Corbett) got a steal on a layup and we just started pushing the tempo.

“That’s what we’ve been trying to do all year. (Hampden) did a really good job of slowing us down. They are very well-coached. We knew it was going to be tough.”

The fifth-seeded Broncos (11-9) got within six points of the Vikings with 5:50 left in the game before Ella Pelletier and Carson teamed up, with each scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter. Pelletier led all scorers with 19 points, including going 3 for 3 at the foul line. Carson deposited 12 and her two 3-pointers ignited the Vikings in the final stanza.


“There was definitely the fouls and everything, (and) it was more of a mental thing getting through,” Carson said. “When the second half came, (coach) was like, ‘You just gotta come out and push (the ball).’ Pushing that ball and fast-breaking is our game.

“You could tell in the fourth quarter (the Broncos) were tired, but we could go, so it was really just making it through the whole game. I’d like to give a shout out to Gabby Tibbetts and Ashley (Richardson) because (Hampden’s) Bella McLaughlin … is an amazing player.”

Carson said the pair helped with trying to contain McLaughlin, who scored the team-high 18 points for the Broncos.

Ella Pelletier explained that there is a certain way of thinking on offense that runs through the entire team.

“I think it is the mentality of even though we might be up, we still have to try and score and still go because you never know if (teams) are going to come back — and doing everything you can to push the tempo,” she said. “(The Broncos’) defense was really good. With a player like Bella, she’s really good, and so you have to play really good defense on her. She is tough to guard.

“I thought we came out a little nervous, but then energy picked up and we started getting into our groove, especially in the second half. We got more fast breaks and started to push the ball better. I think overall as a team, we played a lot better.”


Oxford Hills beat the Broncos twice during the regular season, but what really impressed Nate Pelletier is how other players stepped up against Hampden.

“With Sierra on the bench for as long as she was, that’s not something we dealt with this year,” he said. “We got in that situation where she had to sit for most of the first half, but other kids stepped up and we were able to keep that seven-point lead, which was big for us.”

Both teams took some time getting used to the Cross Insurance Arena hardwood as turnovers hindered each team’s progress on the floor, but thanks to Pelletier’s four points, the Vikings held a 7-3 advantage. It was a 7-5 Oxford Hills lead after one quarter.

The Vikings’ confidence grew in the second quarter, with Corbett dropping in back-to-back 3-pointers to give Oxford Hills a 19-12 lead heading into the half. Pelletier began making drives inside the key and performed a dazzling turn-around shot for two of her four points in the frame.

The Oxford Hills lead was 28-21 heading into the fourth quarter, then the Vikings went off for 20 points in the final period.

“We just felt like if we could get close to 50 points, 60 points, we had a good chance to win,” Nate Pelletier said. “We only had 48, but that was enough today.”

Corbett added eight points to the Vikings’ cause, and Tibbetts chipped in with five.

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