LEWISTON — There was pressure for both Oxford Hills and Lewiston heading into Tuesday night’s Class AA North boys basketball matchup between the two schools.

That pressure played a starring role in the game, which the host Blue Devils held on to win, 56-51.

The victory for Lewiston puts both teams’ records at 6-11 as they head into their regular-season finales on Thursday. The Vikings have a slim advantage in the Heal point standings for the fourth seed — which means a home playoff game in the regional quarterfinals, while the fifth seed must go on the road.

“It was really big for us because we want to just get that fourth spot, and just stay in that fourth spot, so we could get a playoff game at home first, and then hopefully play (Edward Little) or Oxford again, and then see what happens then,” said Lewiston’s Abdirahman Dakane, who scored a game-high 20 points.

The final two of those points came with 8.4 seconds left when Dakane sank a pair of free throws to complete the scoring.

“There wasn’t any pressure at all. … I’m really used to those,” Dakane said. “There wasn’t really any pressure.”


While Dakane wasn’t feeling pressure, he did say his foul shots provided a pressure relief for the Blue Devils.

“It made me feel good, because it made us, like, we’re more comfortable now because we don’t have to stress as much as like, playing defense, them getting a steal or hitting a lucky 3, or something like that,” he said. “Like, we was more comfortable once I hit those two free throws.”

Lewiston coach Elgin Physic agreed.

“Yeah, once it’s a two-possession game, you feel a little bit more comfortable. You never know, because stranger things have happened, but you feel you have a little bit of relief there, where it’s not a one-possession game,” Physic said. “So (Caden Boone and Abdirahman) hitting the free throws down at the end, with kind of the game on the line, was good clutchness by them.”

Boone made one free throw with 39.6 seconds to make it 54-51, then Oxford Hills missed a pair of 3-point attempts at the other end before a loose ball went out of bounds off the Vikings.

“You know, if the 3 goes in … we tie it at the end there. We had two really good shots,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “Disappointing, because we were playing really, really well. And that game right there was probably going to decide who plays at home in the first round. So we’ll see. It’ll come down to really close (Heal) points, I think.”



Lewiston provided the pressure early in the game, using a full-court press to create early chaos for the Oxford Hills offense, which at times wasn’t able to advance the ball into the front court.

The Blue Devils took advantage, jumping out to a 12-2 lead after Jeffery Randall made a spinning floater then Boone stole a sloppy Vikings pass and dished to Lonnie Thomas for an easy layup.

“Well, that’s been a problem for us this whole season,” Graffam said. “You know, they came out with a lot of energy, Lewiston did, and I credit them for that — and they’ve got good players, fast players — and we got behind 12-2, and, obviously, you’re playing catch-up from that point on.”

Shots like Randall’s — high in degree of difficulty and usually low in conversion percentage — seemed to keep going in for Lewiston, especially when taken by Dakane.

“I don’t really feel comfortable shooting those, but they went in, so …” Dakane said.


“It gives me like a good confidence boost,” Dakane added in regard to making those shots. “I feel like I can take more shots, like more of a green light, getting more comfortable.”

At the other end, Oxford Hills struggled to get easy layups and free throws to go into the hoop.

What did work for the Vikings was their size advantage.

Their zone defense made good looks at the basket hard to come by for the Blue Devils (when they weren’t converting those crazy shots), and Oxford Hills was able to get close to the basket on offense and eventually started making those pesky layups and taking advantage the increasing amount of foul shots earned against aggressive Lewiston defenders.

Vikings big men Brayden Murch and Holden Shaw each scored eight points in the first half.

“I thought once we settled into the game, that we did better,” Graffam said. “They couldn’t really press us that much after the first quarter. We handled the pressure all right. We got a couple layups out of it, especially in the second half.”


Oxford Hills drew within 18-13 after one quarter. Then Thomas picked up two quick fouls for Lewiston and went to the bench for the rest of the half.

But the Blue Devils were able to add to their lead, stretching it to 30-19 on an Adam Zeninger 3-pointer.

The Lewiston lead lived in the double digits for much of the quarter but the Vikings were able to get it back below 10 by halftime. Dakane’s finger roll — acrobatic, of course — with under six seconds left gave Lewiston a 38-30 lead going into the intermission.

Dakane then started off the second half with a three-point play, but Oxford Hills countered with a 3-pointer from Carter Holbrook, who heated up in the second half, scoring 12 of his team-high 17 points.

The Vikings looked like they might finally have taken control of the game, and easy Shaw layup cut their deficit to 46-41 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter after they perfectly broke Lewiston’s press by quickly moving the ball from one end of the court to the other through passes and dribbles into open spaces

But the points dried up for both teams until Boone stole an Oxford Hills inbounds with 1.6 seconds left and then banked in a 3 at the buzzer to send the Blue Devils into the fourth quarter up 49-41.



Brady Delamater and Holbrook each made a 3-pointer in the first two minutes of the fourth, and suddenly Lewiston’s lead was down to 49-47.

On defense, the Vikings cranked up the intensity in their zone setup and started trying to pressure and trap the Blue Devils’ ballhandlers. Lewiston didn’t score a basket until Dakane’s layup with 4:35 left, which slightly stretched the lead to 51-47.

The Vikings showed up again about a minute later when Shaw’s layup wouldn’t go down, and then the Blue Devils were awarded possession on a held ball.

“We were able to put some pressure on the ball, turn them over a couple times. We just couldn’t finish it off at the other end to get us back in the lead,” Graffam said. “The story of this game has been the story of our season, right? We started off not very well, then we fought back. And the same thing with this game, we didn’t start very well, and we fought back.”

Boone made a layup with just over two minutes left to make it 53-47, but Holbrook cut it to four on a floater, then down to 53-51 on a baseline jumper with 1:25 remaining.


Those ended up being the final points of the game for Oxford Hills, and Lewiston made its free throws and hung on for the win.

“I thought we kind of just stayed tough,” Physic said. “I know (the pressure of the game and Oxford Hills’ defense) caused us some issues to kind of begin with, but we just kept battling, just didn’t fold.”

Thomas, who was the hot hand early with eight points in the first quarter, finished with 12 for Lewiston, and Boone scored 10.

Lewiston wraps up the regular season at home against rival Edward Little (5-12, sixth in AA North).

“It’s coming down to the wire,” Physic later added. “I told the guys first practice after we played Portland (last Thursday) that, from here on out, it’s just everything almost has the intensity of a playoff feel. And basically have to play like it’s your last game.

“So we’re just trying to get into that mode of just compete. No matter what happens, just compete, and try to fix whatever’s going on in the game.”

For Oxford Hills, Shaw had 12 and Murch 10.

The Vikings finish their regular season at home against Bangor (1-16, currently seventh in AA North).

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