After Oxford Hills lost to eventual state champion Edward Little in last year’s Class AA North girls’ basketball final, Julia Colby and her teammates immediately turned their attention to returning.

And winning.

Friday afternoon at Cross Insurance Arena, the top-seeded Vikings confirmed that they have no peer in Class AA North, leading No. 7 seed Deering from start to finish in a 51-29 victory.

“We put in some time back in the summer because (last year) left a sour taste in our mouth,” said Oxford Hills Coach Nate Pelletier. “We wanted to get back and give ourselves a chance to win a state championship.”

Oxford Hills scored the first seven points, gradually extended its lead, and held Deering senior standout Delaney Haines to five points as it improved to 19-2 and advanced to meet Scarborough (19-2) in the Class AA state final at 6:05 p.m. next Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena.

“Last year motivated us a lot,” said Colby, who scored 14 points to go with 13 rebounds, three assists and two steals. “It was an awful feeling, but it’s probably why we’re here today. We can win (the state game). We just have to play like we have all year.”

Oxford Hills didn’t waste any time seizing control. Cassidy Dumont hit a jumper, Margaret Hartnett drained a 3-pointer and Cecilia Dieterich buried a runner.

By the end of the first quarter, the lead was 11-3, and it kept growing in the second quarter, as Oxford Hills scored inside and out while flummoxing the Rams with different defensive looks.

“Oxford Hills wanted to speed up our game and they did,” said Deering Coach Mike Murphy. “They’re a good team. When you’re behind, making each possession count was tough. They’re talented at every position.”

A long 3-pointer from Dieterich extended the Vikings’ advantage to 27-13 at halftime.

Haines made a jumper to start the second half, but a Deering run never materialized. Colby twice was fouled after steals and made three of four shots and late in the third quarter, then buried a backbreaking 3-pointer that gave Oxford Hills a commanding 42-24 lead entering the final quarter.

When the Vikings got two foul shots from Colby and two more from Jane Smedberg to open the fourth, the celebrating and substitutions began.

In addition to Colby’s production, Harnett scored nine points and Dieterich added eight. The Vikings committed only eight turnovers.

Deering was led by Liz Drelich with 11 points.

“Defending (Haines) and knowing where she was at all times was definitely a point of emphasis in practice, and I thought we did a good job of that today,” said Pelletier.

The Rams finished 6-15, winning five of their last seven games.

“The last week or two for us was just unreal,” Haines said. “Getting to the regional final was surprising for everybody, but we knew we belonged because we had the potential. We’re happy we got here.”

“It was a tremendous run,” Murphy added. “We ran into an outstanding team today, but I’m so pleased and happy for my kids for bouncing back from a miserable season to have a great second season.”

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