After Oxford Hills took an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter Wednesday against Portland, the Vikings dribbled around as long as they could to try to escape with a win in a Class AA North girls’ basketball semifinal.

It worked.

Top-seeded Oxford Hills held on, beating No. 4 Portland 47-36 at Cross Insurance Arena to advance to the regional final against No. 7 Deering at 2 p.m. Friday.

Before the final quarter, the Vikings endured a strong comeback bid led by Gemima Motema, who scored 11 points in the second and third quarters and recorded two blocks and two steals to get the Bulldogs within five points.

Julia Colby then scored four of her 12 points in the fourth quarter to help Oxford Hills reach its fifth regional final in six years.

Colby and Cassidy Dumont each made two free throws to ice the win.

“They went on a little run, they were packing it in, blocked a couple shots, so we had to make a decision,” said Oxford Hills Coach Nate Pelletier, “and I think if we stretch them out and played a little offense that way, they’d have to foul us. I wish we made a few more foul shots down the stretch, but Julia is shooting 80 percent from the line, so she’ll take the ball any day, and Cassidy shot the ball well, too.”

In the first quarter, Colby and Bailey Whitney scored six points each to help the Vikings go on a 10-1 run that resulted in a 17-10 lead after eight minutes.

The Vikings opened up the second quarter with an 8-2 run to stretch the lead to 25-12. The main contributor in that spurt was junior Cecilia Dieterich, who scored her first bucket off a great cut down the lane for a layup, then scored quickly again off a steal and outlet pass from Dumont.

Dieterich scored seven points in the second quarter, and Oxford Hills went into halftime with a 30-20 lead.

Portland was paced by the aggressive scoring of Motema, who finished the first half with six points, three rebounds and a steal.

Motema missed the first nine games of the season because of an injury.

“When I think of Gemima, I think of her starting the second half of her season,” Portland Coach Gerry Corcoran said. “With her injuries and being out the first nine games of the season, right now she’s coming into where she should have been maybe two or three games in.”

Motema continued her hot streak in the third quarter with seven points, two blocks and a steal. The sophomore guard was everywhere, trying to drag her team back into the contest.

To counter her scoring, Pelletier spread out his team’s offense and switched the defense to try to force some turnovers.

“We went to some zone, we ran a 1-3-1 zone at one point, so it wasn’t just a one-on-one trying to match up with her because it’s impossible to match up with her one-on-one,” Pelletier said. “When we went to the zone, it helped everybody out to say, ‘Hey, we are protecting the paint.'”

Portland got back within five in the fourth quarter, thanks to a free throw and a layup by Davina Kabantu.

Colby’s layup added a few more points to the Vikings’ lead. But they then turned the ball over under the hoop, giving Portland some life.

That’s when Oxford Hills began to dribble the ball around to take as much time off the clock as it could. Portland had to resort to fouling, presumably earlier than it had hoped, and the Vikings’ clutch shooting paved the way to a win.

“When we play well, we play well,” Corcoran said. “When we struggle, we struggle. To the girls’ credit, it was a totally different game from last year. We fought back twice to get it to five, and if we just capitalize on a couple different plays. … But they have tremendous guards.”

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