Sierra Carson wasn’t at a loss for words, only for the time to say them all after Oxford Hills won the Class AA state championship Monday.

“It’s amazing, surreal, I’m like saying — it’s like all the positive emotions I could ever feel, all in one. It’s awesome,” she said.

The Vikings had just finished off a 62-25 win over Gorham at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland to claim the Oxford Hills girls basketball program’s third state title.

Carson, a senior, played an outstanding final high school game. But the first thing the Miss Maine Basketball finalist wants to point out is that the state championship win, like the season, was a complete team effort.

“It was everyone contributing their role and more,” Carson said. “Like, what we started from the beginning of the season up until now, what we’ve worked on, everyone did that in this game.

“The defense only let them score eight points (in the second half), that’s amazing. And that’s a team effort. And then just finding those open shooters like Tristen. Maddy rebounding. Everyone did amazing. It’s not just one person, it’s a whole team.”


It’s true, Carson wasn’t the only reason the Vikings were so good. There were many.

Tristen Derenburger made six 3-pointers and scored a game-high 18 points against Gorham.

Maddy Miller grabbed several rebounds on both ends of the court, earning the Vikings several second chances and preventing many by the Rams. When Oxford Hills’ shots weren’t falling in the first quarter, Miller, Carson and Ella Pelletier continued to crash the boards.

Pelletier had another nice all-around game and scored 10 points, including a driving basket early in the second quarter that got the Vikings started.

Molly Corbett, who has been called the heart of the team, was locked in on defense and made a big 3 in the second quarter and turned a steal into a layup as part of a key stretch in the third.

Gabbie Tibbetts was a sparkplug off the bench, scoring 10 points and contributing at both ends of the court.


Ashley Richardson’s role is typically as a stout defender wherever she’s needed, and she fulfilled that Monday against Gorham.

The Oxford Hills players have mentioned throughout the season the importance of energy — “We thrive off energy,” Ella Pelletier said Monday — and that the players on the bench play a role in creating that energy.

Vikings coach Nate Pelletier was able to put senior Maddalyn Stack in the game for the final 3:30 of the fourth, and Madalyn Oliveira, Milo Seams, Maddy Herrick and Sophie Estes took the court about a minute later.

Carson was everywhere in the state title game and finished with 17 points, nine steals, seven rebounds and four assists. She set up Derenburger’s two biggest 3-pointers by passing the ball out to her after grabbing offensive rebounds.

“Sierra was brilliant,” Nate Pelletier said.

Here are some ways Carson’s teammates have described her play this season:


Derenburger: “She’s so dynamic.”

Corbett: “She’s insane.”

Ella Pelletier: “She’s just one player that I’m like, ‘How do you even guard her?’”

Monday’s state final was the capper of a great postseason by Carson.

She led all scorers with 17 points in an AA North quarterfinal win over Portland. After getting in foul trouble in the semifinals, she helped the Vikings put Hampden away with 10 points in the fourth quarter.

In perhaps her finest moment, she scored 24 of her 29 points in the fourth quarter and the two overtimes in the regional final win over Cheverus. She made 3-pointers, drove through traffic for points, stole the ball and scored on fast breaks and hit her free throws. She also helped set up Derenburger’s two 3-pointers that all but decided the game.


Also in that game, Ella Pelletier and Miller, Oxford Hills’ tallest players, fouled out in the first overtime, so Carson was forced to defend Stags 6-footer Emma Lizotte in the post.

“That’s the great thing about Sierra, she can find and guard anybody on the floor,” Nate Pelletier said after that game.

Winning the state championship this season is particularly special to the seniors because they played bigger roles than when they were freshmen and the Vikings won their second consecutive title in 2020.

Carson played the first few games of that season before tearing her meniscus. So she watched the Class AA final from the bench with a brace on her knee.

She tore the meniscus in her other knee before her sophomore season. She returned late in the basketball season, but due to COVID-19, the Maine Principals’ Association did not sponsor postseason tournaments in 2020-21.

Carson was healthy for the entirety of her junior and senior seasons. Her two knee injuries didn’t hinder her athleticism — Nate Pelletier said before Carson’s junior season that she is the most athletic player he has coached — but they did strengthen her resolve.


“It’s a rollercoaster, really, but full of emotions, like upset ones; high, like right now,” Carson said. “This is the ultimate high, I’m at the peak. But it’s, I think, also built my character, and just how I see the game.

“So I think with my four years, it will contribute a lot to my next four.”

Carson will become the latest in a growing group of Maine girls standouts to play NCAA Division I women’s basketball, having committed to play for another former Pine Tree State native, and former Bates College standout, Adrienne Shibles at Dartmouth College.

“She’s going to be tough to lose, I’ll tell you that,” Nate Pelletier said Monday. “She’s had an amazing career. She played with injury early in her career, and she’s just been able to really fight that adversity. Now she’s going to Dartmouth, going to play basketball.

“I mean, this is a great way for her to end her career.”

The Vikings have won three state titles in four tournaments, they’ve reached seven consecutive AA North regional finals. Losing Carson, Corbett, Richardson and Stack will leave a void, but Oxford Hills should still be strong next year.


Ella Pelletier is only a sophomore but is already one of Maine’s top players, and this year added guard skills to her post-player height. Miller’s defense and rebounding and Derenburger’s shooting will be back. Tibbetts was fearless in the biggest games of the season, and might be ready to break out. Herrick, Seams and Oliveira played a lot minutes early in the season when starters missed games due to illness.

“Obviously, we have to switch a little bit because Sierra’s not going to be here, but we still got Tristen, Maddy, everybody,” Ella Pelletier said. “We’re going to rebound, hopefully we’ll be back here next year.”

Carson agrees.

“Especially with Pell as the coach, and the ones we have coming back, they’re going to still be really good,” she said.

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