AUGUSTA — Sixth-seeded Oxford Hills found a way to hang around during regulation before pulling out a 61-58 overtime win against No. 2 Brunswick in an Eastern Class A boys’ basketball semifinal Wednesday night at the Augusta Civic Center.
The Vikings, who will play top-ranked Hampden Academy for the regional title Friday night, led for just 18 seconds during 32 minutes of regulation play, but it was a different story when the game went into overtime.
“Coming into the game, we had the advantage at guard and they had the advantage at the post,” Brunswick Coach Todd Hanson said. “We did a really good job of controlling tempo and dictating the game for 31 minutes and 50 seconds, and we just couldn’t get that last possession.
“Once it went into overtime, I think their strengths came out a little bit more and we had a real hard time keeping them off the boards. Second-chance opportunities killed us.”
Andrew Flemming, a 6-4 sophomore center, and Dalton Rice, a 6-2 senior forward, each scored 21 points to help the Vikings overcome a 34-point performance by Blake Gordon.
The teams split two games during the regular season. Oxford Hills (13-7) earned a 57-39 win at home in December, and the Dragons ran away with a 70-55 win at Brunswick earlier this month.
“We knew we had to do a better job of defending their guards,” Oxford Hills Coach Scott Graffam said. “We did the best we could and stayed in the game.”
“They made us work for our points,” Hanson said. “Oxford Hills did a good job of kind of slowing it down and grinding it out.”
Brunswick (14-6) held a 31-25 lead at the end of a topsy-turvy first half.
Fueled by a 9-0 run, the Dragons opened an 11-point lead in the first quarter, but Oxford Hills tightened its defense and clawed its way back into the contest in the second quarter.
The Vikings’ pulled to within 25-23 with 1:50 left in the half before Ryan Black and Derek Devereaux ended the Dragons’ 0-for-9 shooting slump with baskets in the final minute.
“We wanted to slow it down,” Graffam said. “We didn’t want to get into a running game with them because those guards are so good and so fast.”
Oxford Hills held a brief 36-35 lead in the third quarter, but Gordon hit a pull-up jumper and Black completed a four-point play to propel the Dragons into a 41-36 advantage. Luke Davidson’s 3-pointer beat the buzzer to make it 41-39.
Brunswick was up 51-48 with 1:22 left in regulation, but Rice sank a free throw with 57 seconds remaining and Tyus Ripley put in an offensive rebound with 12 seconds left to send the game into overtime.