McAuley’s defensive intensity to start the second half jump-started its decisive 18-2 run en route to a 67-41 win over Oxford Hills in the Class A girls’ basketball championship game Saturday.

But as Oxford Hills Coach Nate Pelletier pointed out, the Lions also have the offensive skill to turn good looks and extra possessions into points.

“They’re good for a reason: they make shots,” Pelletier said. “It felt like the kids that we wanted shooting the ball were shooting the ball, and they were going in. You know, 15 footers that you want shot by the right kid, and she puts it in. My hat goes off to them.”

McAuley senior Jackie Welch might have been one player Pelletier was thinking about. She struggled with her shot in the three previous tournament games, scoring a total of 12 points, with nine coming against Portland in the regional semifinals.

“I don’t think I played badly in the first few games, but I think I had one (point) against (Deering),” Welch said. “I was glad to see my shot was there tonight. Finally. It felt like it was due.”

Welch hit a deep jumper and a 3-pointer in the second quarter when starters Olivia Smith and Victoria Lux were both on the bench.

Lux also had her most efficient and effective game, making 9 of 16 shots. She simply grabbed three of her misses herself and turned them into a pair of baskets (once it took three tries).

Olivia Dalphonse took only two shots and made them both. Her 3-pointer came with McAuley trailing 12-4 and with top scorers Allie Clement and Smith on the bench.

Clement was 6 for 10, including 4 for 6 on 3-pointers. She was a perfect 4 for 4 in the third quarter. 

OXFORD HILLS GRADUATES three seniors, including starters Crystal West and Brooke Murch. Junior standout Anna Winslow said the experienced gained throughout a 17-5 season has raised expectations for next season.

“It was a good run and a season we didn’t think we were going to have,” Winslow said. “(McAuley) knows this feeling. They play here. It’s going to be a different story next year.” 

THE MPA AWARDED six Sportsmanship Award banners prior to Saturday’s games. For girls, Thornton Academy (Western A), Wells (Western B) and Mt. Ararat (Eastern A) were honored. The boys’ recipients were Mt. Blue (Eastern A), Biddeford (Western A) and Cape Elizabeth (Western B).