PARIS — Oxford Hills senior guard Spencer Strong has seen his team shut out opponents for long stretches, but he’s never seen zeroes on the other side of the scoreboard as long as he did in Wednesday night’s Class AA North boys’ basketball quarterfinal.

“I think we’ve shut out people in quarters, but never in the first quarter,” Strong said.

The third-seeded Vikings started with plenty of energy and urgency and blanked sixth-seeded Cheverus for the first 9 minutes and 23 seconds while building a 15-0 lead. The Stags finally started matching the energy level in the second quarter but could never recover from the slow start, as Oxford Hills finished off a 71-58 win.

Oxford Hills advances to face No. 2 Edward Little in the semifinals at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Cross Insurance Arena. Strong paced the Vikings (13-6) with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Colton Carson added 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Owen Burke led the Stags (9-10) with 21 points, while Patrick Foster added 11.

Cheverus missed its first nine shots and turned the ball over four times in the first quarter.

“We came out and we took the intensity from the gym and we turned it into a lot of turnovers and points off of turnovers and fast-break points,” Strong said.

Oxford Hills opened with back-to-back 3-pointers by Strong and Janek Luksza (nine points, six rebounds), then started having its own problems finding the mark. But the Vikings, led by Carson, Luksza and Will Dieterich (12 points, seven rebounds), dominated the offensive glass. Their next four baskets came on second-chance points as they ended the quarter with a 14-0 lead.

“We came out tight,” Cheverus Coach Ryan Soucie said. “We didn’t make shots. We didn’t rebound like how we had talked about the last four days. We knew that was their game. We gave up some second-chance opportunities that led to second-chance points. When you’re not making shots on the other end and you can’t get stops defensively, that’s a recipe for disaster.”

Cheverus didn’t let Oxford Hills relax, though. The Stags came out of their zone and played full-court, man-to-man defense in the second quarter and got the spark they needed, forcing seven turnovers.

After Dieterich’s free throw made it 15-0, Foster finally got the Stags on the board with a layup that became a three-point play. Foster followed with a 3-pointer and Matt Duchaine nailed a fallaway jumper, and suddenly it was 16-8.

“We knew that they were going to have to up their pressure,” Strong said. “We had just shut them out the whole first quarter, and they wanted to put the ball in the hoop. We were going to have to adjust to whatever they threw at us.”

“We were talking about coming out and getting right after them. And then I knew that adrenaline would come down, and I was afraid of a letdown,” Oxford Hills Coach Scott Graffam said. “The second quarter, when Colton and Will got two fouls each, we had to sub them out, and the subs held the lead. I knew we were in good shape then with those guys coming back in the second half.”

Those subs included Tanner Herrick and Patrick Paine, who went about scoring the same way as the starters, by crashing the offensive boards.

Paine converted the Vikings’ 10th offensive rebound into a hoop that made it 18-8. Akera Oryem made a three-point play to pull the Stags within 21-13, but Herrick (nine points, five rebounds) put back his own miss to help Oxford Hills take a 24-13 lead into halftime.

Burke scored 12 of the Stags’ 18 points in the third quarter, but the Vikings didn’t give up much of their cushion, scoring eight in a row near the end of the quarter to take a 45-27 lead on a Herrick jumper after he and Dieterich collected offensive rebounds.

Cheverus cut the deficit to 51-39 on a Foster 3-pointer but couldn’t get any closer.

“In the fourth quarter, I thought we had some chances to keep grinding it down and whittle away, but we settled for some shots that I don’t think were very good shots, and I didn’t think we shared the ball like I wanted us to,” Soucie said. “But (we) didn’t quit. We ended up staying with them (after the first quarter).”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.