Thursday, April 24, 2014
By EARL SWINSON Special to the Press Herald
TOPSHAM - Abbie Eastman was 6 for 6 on 3-pointers and 6 for 6 from the foul line for a game-high 24 points as Oxford Hills held off Mt. Ararat 47-41 in a girls' KVAC Class A basketball game Monday.
The Eagles (10-3) missed nine of their first 10 shots -- and when Eastman knocked down her first 3-pointer halfway through the opening period, it was the Vikings' first basket, but put them ahead for good at 3-2.
"I was feeling it today," said Eastman. "Coach (Nate Pelletier) said this was a tough gym to shoot in, but I had a good warm-up, so I decided to let it fly."
Another Eastman 3 helped the Vikings (9-4) take an 8-6 lead at the end of a quarter, and the Vikings opened the second with a pair of smart passes inside for buckets, Tianna Sugars finding Anna Winslow underneath and Eastman doing the same with Alex Rowe.
Oxford Hills led 19-12 at the break, and Winslow (eight points) hit a pair from in close before an Eastman 3-pointer gave the Vikings their largest lead at 28-16.
"We'd been focusing in practice on getting easy baskets off our passing," said Winslow. "It really was just good communication."
Trailing 31-23 after three periods, the Eagles began finding the range on offense behind Mallory Nelson, who scored eight of her team-high 19 points, and a pair of 3-pointers from Kristi Willey.
Mt. Ararat twice pulled to within five points in the final minute but had to foul, and Eastman converted all six of her free throws.
"This was a huge win for us," said Pelletier. "The big thing is it gives the girls confidence. We have all the talent in the world and we've played very well at home, but we've struggled on the road, and we had to find a way to win away."
"We haven't done well at running an offense and taking time off the clock. But tonight when they went man-to-man we were able to hit the open man."
"We kept our composure and didn't rush things," said Eastman. "We knew they'd be aggressive on defense."
The loss was the third straight for the Eagles after opening the season with 10 wins, and Coach Kelly LaFountain said, "We're doubting ourselves at this point. We didn't hit our shots early, and it's hard to come back when the other team is executing well.
"We haven't played our best basketball, even when we were winning. We have to pull it together to get some momentum for the playoffs."
"We were so used to winning I think it got into our heads a little," said Nelson. "We're in a slump, but it's not going to last."