BOX SCORE

Oxford Hills 50 Cheverus 38

OH- 16 16 6 12- 50
C- 14 7 4 13- 38

OH- Dumont 7-2-19, Hartnett 3-0-9, S. Carson 3-0-7, Colby 3-0-7, B. Carson 1-0-3, Dieterich 1-0-3, Smedberg 1-0-2

C- Bontatibus 4-2-10, L. Jordan 2-2-7, Davie 2-0-6, Lizotte 3-0-6, H. Jordan 1-0-3, Huntington 1-0-2, M. Kratzer 1-0-2, Storey 0-2-2

3-pointers:
OH (10) Dumont, Hartnett 3, B. Carson, S. Carson, Colby, Dieterich 1
C (4) Davie 2, H. Jordan, L. Jordan 1

Turnovers:
OH- 16
C- 24

FTs
OH: 2-4
C: 6-10

PORTLAND—Cheverus’ girls’ basketball team turned the ball over 24 times and missed several easy shots, but came away from Wednesday evening’s loss to defending Class AA champion Oxford Hills feeling good about where they are.

Very much in contention.

The Stags, who won their first three games this winter under new coach Billy Goodman, hung tough with the deep, experienced and talented Vikings throughout and thanks to a strong effort off the bench from sophomore Emily Bontatibus, only trailed, 16-14, after one quarter.

Cheverus then scored the first five points of the second period and entertained upset hopes, but with the game hanging in the balance late in the half, the Stags turned the ball over on three successive possessions and Oxford Hills turned each of those giveaways into layups to take a 32-21 lead to the break.

Cheverus couldn’t manage a single field goal in the third quarter and the Vikings extended their advantage to 38-25 and in the fourth period, the Stags never got closer than a dozen points and Oxford Hills went on to a 50-38 victory.

While Vikings’ senior standouts Julia Colby and Cecelia Dieterich were held to a combined 10 points, Oxford Hills got 19 points from junior Cassidy Dumont, forced 24 Cheverus turnovers and as a result, improved to 4-0 and dropped the Stags to 3-1 in the process.

“We missed a lot of layups and we turned the ball over, but I’m so proud of my team,” Goodman said. “They executed well. We didn’t give up.”

Early test

After winning just five games a year ago, not much was expected of Cheverus coming into the season, but those familiar with Goodman’s resume knew he’d get the most out of this year’s team and the Stags started with wins over host Lewiston (50-38), visiting Scarborough, the defending Class AA South champion (48-44), and host Edward Little (54-31).

Oxford Hills, meanwhile, has picked right up where it left off from a year ago, as a team without peer. The Vikings started with a 65-28 win at Deering, then downed visiting Gorham (74-59) and visiting Portland (60-32).

Last year, Oxford Hills came to Portland and beat Cheverus, 46-24, in the teams’ lone meeting.

This one was scheduled for Tuesday, but snow pushed it back 23 hours, which was fine with the Vikings, who did enough to send the Stags to the loss column for the first time.

Cheverus scored first, as junior Jillian Lizotte banked home a shot 20 seconds in, but Oxford Hills went on top on a 3-point shot from senior Maggie Hartnett, then Hartnett hit another 3 and with 6:20 to go in the first quarter, Dumont scored her first points on a transition layup, for an 8-2 lead, which forced Goodman to call timeout.

The Stags would settle down and keep things close the remainder of the frame.

After Cheverus junior Ella Davie hit a 3, Dumont answered with a layup, but Bontatibus made a free throw, then Bontatibus made a layup to cut the deficit to two.

After freshman Sierra Carson countered with a 3 for the visitors, Bontatibus made a layup, then junior Mia Kratzer hit a jumper to pull the Stags within one, but senior Brooke Carson stemmed the tide with another 3 for the Vikigns.

With 34.1 seconds left in the opening stanza, a bank shot from Bontatibus gave her seven points in the frame and cut Oxford Hills’ lead to 16-14 after eight minutes.

Cheverus then went on top early in the second period, as senior Lauren Jordan made a layup, then Davie sank a 3-ball in transition, but Sierra Carson set up Colby for a layup on the fast break, then with 5:28 to go in the half, a Dumont 3 put the Vikings ahead to stay, 21-19.

After Dumont made a layup, a bank shot from senior Emily Huntington puled the Stags within two, but the final nine points of the half went to Oxford Hills.

The run began with a corner 3-pointer from Dumont, then the Vikings’ defense made life miserable for Cheverus, forcing three straight turnovers which led to easy hoops.

First, after a Sierra Carson steal, Colby made a layup.

Then, after another steal, Dietrich passed to Sierra Carson for a layup.

Then, with 3.2 seconds on the clock, Carson stole the ball and made another layup for a 32-21 halftime lead.

“We make sure we get deflections,” Dumont said. “We want to get a hand on the ball, so the next person can take it and run.”

“We felt like a run was there,” said Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier. “We went from zone (defense) to pressing and caught them off guard. The only thing that hurt us was when halftime came because we were on a roll. When you play a good team, you want to go on a run and hope to sustain that.”

In the first half, Dumont led the way with 12 points and Oxford Hills forced 17 turnovers, while committing just seven.

When Dumont and Hartnett opened the second half with 3-pointers, it appeared the Vikings were primed for a runaway, but the Stags battled back.

After junior Madison Storey made two free throws to end the 15-0 run and a 7-minute, 38-second drought, Jordan made one free throw, then hit another after time expired in the quarter to make it 38-25 heading for the fourth period.

There, Cheverus never could get truly close.

A Dumont jumper opened the fourth and ended a 5:04 drought, but Lizotte countered with a putback, the Stags’ first field goal in 12:52.

After senior Jade Smedberg hit a leaner for the visitors, Lizotte drove for a layup, then Bontatibus made a free throw with 5:08 remaining to cut the Cheverus deficit to 42-30.

That’s as close as the Stags would get, as Colby drained a clutch 3 and after Bontatibus made a layup, Dieterich hit a 3 from the corner and with 1:44 to go, two Dumont free throws gave the Vikings their final points.

Down the stretch, sophomore Hayley Jordan and Lauren Jordan each made 3s, but that was it for Cheverus, which went down to a 50-38 defeat.

“I knew (Cheverus would) play hard the whole time,” said Dumont. “We got a little frazzled at the beginning, then we settled down. We made shots and didn’t foul as much.”

“We knew they’d play a zone trapping style and at times, we were frazzled,” Pelletier said. “We had some open shots and we made some and missed some. Luckily, we made enough. We didn’t want to get into a 3-point shooting contest.”

Dumont led all scorers with 19 points. She also had five rebounds and four assists.

Hartnett added nine points, Sierra Carson and Colby (five boards, three assists) had seven apiece, Brooke Carson and Dieterich (10 rebounds, six assists) each finished with three points and Smedberg had two (to go with eight rebounds and three steals).

“We did a good job on defense,” Goodman said. “Colby had seven and Dieterich had three, but they have 10 girls who can score.”

“We have a bunch of kids who can score,” Pelletier said. “Cassidy is great. Maggie shot the ball well. Other kids can step up. If Jules can’t score, someone else has to and the big positive tonight is others did.”

Oxford Hills overcame 16 turnovers, made 2-of-4 free throws and held a slim 41-40 rebounding advantage.

Cheverus’ top scorer was Bontatibus, who had 10 points in limited action off the bench. Lauren Jordan added seven points, 12 rebounds and four assists, Davie and Lizotte each scored six points, Hayley Jordan had three and Huntington, Kratzer and Storey all chipped in with two.

The Stags made 6-of-10 free throws and were hindered by 24 turnovers.

“I’ve been playing a lot of girls,” Goodman said. “They know I go with what I see and every game is different. We did a good job getting the ball inside. I give my guards credit for playing under pressure and passing the ball.”

On to 2020

Oxford Hills is back in action Saturday at Lewiston, then closes the 2019 portion of its schedule with games at Edward Little and at home versus Noble.

“I feel like we have the mindset that we’re the underdog,” Dumont said. “We feel like we have to prove ourselves and play hard and win. We have to prepare ourselves so we don’t have slow starts.”

“Everybody has high expectations, but the great thing about this group is we take it one game at a time,” said Pelletier. “We want to play our best basketball at playoff time.”

Cheverus hopes to get back in the win column Friday at Massabesic. The Stags then spend the next two Mondays battling Portland, first at home, then at the Portland Exposition Building.

“Oxford Hills and South Portland are the best teams in the state, so we battled one of the best teams in the state tonight and we’ll build on that,” said Goodman.

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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