SOUTH PARIS — Eli Soehren made some big kicks for the Oxford Hills football team last fall.

But he saved the biggest field goal of his freshman year for Tuesday night.

Soehren’s 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left in regulation sent the Vikings and Windham Eagles into overtime, which Oxford Hills dominated to pick up a 50-42 Class AA North boys basketball win.

Hayden Paine scored seven of his game-high 16 points in overtime to lead the Vikings (4-13), who avenged a 35-30 loss to the Eagles exactly one month earlier. Tanner Herrick added 10 points and Soehren nine points.

Kaleb Cidre paced the Eagles (6-11) with 11 points and five steals, while Chris Naylor added nine points.

Oxford Hills, which never led during regulation, rallied from a 10-0 deficit early and trailed 37-33 with 90 seconds left. Herrick made one of two free throws to trim the margin to three, providing the Vikings a chance to tie after a Windham turnover.


The Vikings initially tried to get a quick two points but missed a pair of layups from almost point-blank range. Yet they still retained possession and took a time out with 13.1 seconds left to draw up a play.

“It was designed first for Eli and then for Jesse (Leonard),” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “Eli ended up with the ball in a spot where he could shoot it.”

Credit Paine with finding Soehren open a little to the left of the top of the 3-point arc with the perfect pass.

“We had a play going in,” Soehren said, “and it didn’t work out right, what we wanted. But we got it to Hayden and he made a great pass out and I was wide open. I knew I was going to shoot that.”

“Guys did a good job staying true to our defense on that last possession,” Windham coach Chad Pulkkinen said. “But we can’t give them three opportunities to make a shot to force overtime. Those are just championship plays that you have to have.”

The Vikings forced Naylor to heave up an awkward, off-balance shot from the corner at the buzzer to ensure overtime.


Will Mannette sank a pair of free throws to give the Eagles the first lead in the extra session, but they went the first three minutes without a field goal.

Oxford Hills seized the opportunity with back-to-back buckets by Hayden Paine, who Patrick Paine found both times cutting to the hoop. The second hoop also resulted in a foul, and Hayden Paine nailed the free throw to make it 42-39 Vikings with 2:57 to go.

“We were more patient in the second half,” Graffam said. “In the overtime, especially, we got the ball to the baseline and then into the bucket, two or three right in a row. That made the difference. The execution at the end was good.”

Naylor’s hoop with one minute left pulled the Eagles within 44-42, but Herrick and Keegan Watson converted 4-of-4 free throws in the final 42 seconds and Hayden Paine made a layup to seal it.

Plagued by 24 turnovers over the first three quarters, Oxford Hills had to dig its way out of the early 10-0 hole, yet trailed by only four, 24-20, at halftime. That was despite Windham shooting 4-for-7 from 3-point range and shutting off the paint at the other end with its 2-3 zone.

“We turned it over for three-and-a-half quarters and then all of a sudden didn’t,” Graffam said. “Maybe (Windham) ran out of gas. The game down there was very similar to this one. They were ahead most of the game and we had a chance to catch them and beat them, but we didn’t (in the first game).”


The Vikings tied it at 25-25 with a Herrick trey early in the second half. Windham, meanwhile, cooled off significantly from beyond the arc in the second half and overtime (1-for-10), yet it still held a 34-29 lead heading into the fourth.

“Oxford Hills is known around the state for getting you into a dogfight no matter who you are, where you are,” Pulkkinen said. “We got great shots. We got a lot of foul shots, we just missed a lot of foul shots, a lot of open shots. We got the shots we wanted. Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in.”

The win not only gave Oxford Hills a shot of confidence but vaulted it out of the No. 8 spot in the Class AA North Heal point standings. It has a chance to move up even more, perhaps as high as No. 6, if it can beat Bangor in Wednesday night’s regular-season finale (6:30 p.m.) at home.

“This will be way bigger if we come out tomorrow and beat them. A six seed would be great.” Soehren said. “We’re executing way better than we have been.”

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