If there was going to be a comeback for Oxford Hills, it would have been in the waning minutes of the third quarter, with center Andrew Fleming swatting a Deering shot to the sideline.

Immediately, Deering attacked again and once more the 6-foot-6 Fleming blocked the shot. This time, however, the basketball stayed in play. Deering junior Jean Claude Butera hauled it in and drained a 3-pointer.

Five Rams followed Butera’s backbreaking 3 with points of their own as Deering stretched its lead to 30 on the way to an 81-59 Class AA North boys’ basketball victory Monday afternoon at Deering High.

“That’s a very, very good team,” said Oxford Hills Coach Scott Graffam, whose team fell to 10-3. “In our league (the KVAC), over the years, there haven’t been very many teams that play a total up-tempo, get-after-it (style).”

The Rams (11-1) did just that Monday, forcing 30 turnovers and coming up with 19 steals by mixing a half-court trap with a full-court press and spreading the scoring wealth to 10 players, six of whom contributed at least nine points.

“That’s who we are,” said Deering Coach Todd Wing. “We don’t have many among the (SMAA) stats leaders, and the guys embrace that. There’s not one guy who is looking at the stats for their points. They’ve got just one goal in mind, and that’s to win.”

After opening the season with a 10-game winning streak, the Rams fell to Portland on Thursday. Monday was the first opportunity to see how they would respond.

“That loss was upsetting,” said Deering senior Anthony Lobor, who scored 10 of his team-high 18 points in the first quarter. “But we came into this game with the mindset that it was a clean slate and we had to start all over and prove that we were the team to beat.”

The Rams pressed and ran their way to 25 points in the first quarter and doubled that in the second.

They double-teamed the dangerous Fleming and built a 20-point lead (45-25) before heading into intermission ahead 50-32.

“Fleming’s a great player,” Lobor said, “but we come in knowing that we’re going to pressure them, force turnovers and do we what do. As long as we execute, we are the best team in the state.”

Chris St. Pierre kept Oxford Hills close with three 3-pointers in the first quarter but the Vikings didn’t make another until the fourth. He finished with 20 points and Fleming added 19. Eleven of Fleming’s points came on free throws.

“Andrew has been beaten up his entire career, so he’s used to it,” Graffam said of Deering’s physical defense. “But the quickness of their ball-handlers was an issue for us. They’re fast. You’ve got to play against these teams before you really figure it out.”

Jake Beauchesne converted an offensive rebound to pull Oxford Hills within 60-45 late in the third and Fleming fired up the visiting crowd with consecutive blocks before Butera’s long-range basket ignited a 15-0 Deering run. The Rams opened the fourth quarter with a well-designed alley-oop from Max Chabot to Lobor and prompted Graffam to call a timeout only 16 seconds into the quarter.

Deering’s next possession resulted in a fast-break layup for Malik White, who was sent tumbling into the purple protective mat on the wall behind the basket by Fleming. That was all for the UMaine-bound center.

“He needed to come out,” Graffam said.

Manny Chikuta finished with 13 points, Butera 11 and Chabot 10 for Deering. White and Raffaele Salamone each had nine.