Gary Fifield has seen a lot of basketball games in his decades-long coaching career. Wednesday afternoon, the Cheverus High girls’ basketball coach saw something new.

Top-ranked Oxford Hills came out blazing, hitting its first seven shots – four of them 3-pointers – to build a big early lead and hold off fourth-ranked Cheverus 59-49 in a Class AA North semifinal at Cross Insurance Arena. The Vikings hit 13 of 18 shots in the first half and finished with nine 3-pointers to tie the regional tournament single-game record.

“I’m not so sure I’ve ever seen a high school team shoot the ball as well as they did in the first half in this facility,” said Fifield, the former University of Southern Maine coach finishing his first year at Cheverus. “I mean this is not an easy place to shoot in. It was their first game in this facility.

“They couldn’t miss. And it wasn’t like, for the most part, they weren’t wide, wide open … And if they start burying it like that, there’s not much you can do. You feel helpless.”

Oxford Hills (17-3) will play No. 3 Edward Little for the regional title at 2 p.m. Friday at Cross Insurance Arena. The Stags finished 12-8.

If Fifield was surprised, Oxford Hills Coach Nate Pelletier wasn’t entirely. He’s seen this before.

“We shot the 3 well this year,” he said. “So making 3s doesn’t surprise me. At the rate we made them early on? That’s kind of unheard of.

“It’s one of those things we see in practice all the time. We have three or four kids who can shoot the ball. It seemed to all come together at the right point for us.”

Maighread Laliberte led the Vikings with 27 points, hitting four 3s. Julia Colby added 17, hitting two 3s.

Oxford Hills led 7-5 after Cheverus’ Emme Poulin (17 points) hit a 3-pointer with 5:20 left in the first quarter. Then the Vikings went on a 12-1 run to take control.

It was 21-8 after one and 37-17 at the half. The lead hit 25 on a 3-pointer by Laliberte with 5:55 left. Then the Stags fought back. Behind Poulin, Abby Cavallaro (14 points), Kat Kane and a more aggressive defense, Cheverus moved within six, 55-49, when Poulin hit a foul shot with 1:53 left after an intentional foul – which meant the Stags also had the ball.

But Jadah Adams stepped up to steal the ball on a pass. After a Vikings missed foul shot, Cheverus came down but Colby stole the ball.

“We’ve been there before,” said Laliberte. “We just focused on what we needed to do and those steals were a big help.”

Cheverus didn’t hit another shot and Laliberte hit 4 of 6 foul shots in the final 48 seconds to seal it.

“I’m proud of them,” said Fifield. “They showed heart and desire.”

But it’s the Vikings moving on.

“In the end we did enough to win,” said Pelletier. “And that’s all that matters this time of year, doing enough to win.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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