BRUNSWICK—Monday evening’s showdown was a great opportunity for both the Oxford Hills and Brunswick girls’ basketball teams.

The squads got to measure themselves against another top power in the penultimate game of the regular season, with an abundance of Heal Points stakes in front of a large crowd that made it feel like the tournament came early and both squads demonstrated why they believe they can make a championship run in the weeks to come.

The host Dragons got out to a fast 7-2 start, but the Vikings rallied to tie it up, 10-10, after one quarter.

Both offenses struggled in the second period and Oxford Hills, which is normally prolific-shooting from 3-point range, missed nine of its first 10 long-range bids, but late in the first half, sophomore Gabbie Tibbetts put the Vikings ahead to stay with a 3 and senior sharpshooter Molly Corbett added another for a 19-15 halftime advantage.

Oxford Hills’ senior standout Sierra Carson then came alive in the third quarter, draining a pair of 3s and the Vikings led by as many as 12 points before Brunswick pulled within eight, 32-24, heading for the final stanza.

There, Oxford Hills appeared to ice its victory when Carson made two free throws with 4:40 left, making it 43-32, but the Dragons would roar back and make things very interesting.


A pair of long 3-pointers from junior Dakota Shipley sparked the rally and when sophomore Alexis Morin made a layup with 2:17 remaining, Brunswick had pulled within a point, 43-42.

But Corbett had one more clutch 3 up her sleeve and after senior Kelsie Carlton made it a two-point game with a layup, sophomore Ella Pelletier helped put it away for the Vikings with two free throws and they held on for a 48-44 victory.

Carson led all scorers with 15 points, Corbett added 14 and Oxford Hills improved to 16-1 on the season while dropping the Dragons to 15-2 in the process.

“That was an amazing game,” said Vikings coach Nate Pelletier, who once played for Brunswick High School. “We were a little frazzled early in the game. Brunswick’s defense got us playing a little faster than we wanted to play. Luckily, our defense was able to hold them down too, so we could find out what to do. Halftime, we made some adjustments and utilized some things we hadn’t done all year and we hit some shots.”

Tournament tune-up

Brunswick and Oxford Hills have been among the state’s finest teams all season and both squads entertain legitimate Gold Ball hopes.


The Dragons started fast, downing host Westbrook (75-31), visiting Greely in a regional final rematch (70-43), visiting Freeport (73-39), host Falmouth (61-36), host Cape Elizabeth (80-20), visiting Leavitt 943-22) and host Biddeford (66-21). On Jan. 10, Brunswick fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 48-47 setback at Gray-New Gloucester, then the Dragons returned to form and downed visiting Kennebunk (62-13) and Yarmouth (56-33), host Mt. Ararat (68-39), visiting Falmouth (42-37) and Biddeford (62-12) and host Bangor (46-30), Gorham (64-41) and Marshwood (52-29).

Oxford Hills won its first 10 outings by an average of 36 points, beating Edward Little in the opener (58-40), then defeating Lewiston (75-34), Windham (52-22), Deering (58-26), Hampden Academy (70-41), Noble (87-21), Portland (63-24), Lewiston (65-38), Edward Little (91-48) and Portland (65-32) again. After downing visiting Cheverus (61-50), the Vikings handed Bangor its first loss (39-34), then beat Deering (59-28) before tasting defeat for the first time last Tuesday, 51-43, at Cheverus.

Oxford Hills tried to take something positive from the loss and the Vikings figure to be prepared should the teams meet again in the tournament.

“They went zone, then went to man and we just have to figure out how to get open shots against tall players if they take away our 3s,” said Carson.”

“We never planned on going undefeated and we knew Cheverus was great,” said Pelletier. “What we took out of it was how we’ll do better if we play them again and they play us man (to man).”

Oxford Hills then returned to form with wins over Gorham (72-47) and Bangor (65-46).


Monday, in front of a large gathering, including Brunswick’s terrific Drumline, the Vikings did just enough to escape with a key victory.

Brunswick senior Sophia Morin tries to shoot over Oxford Hills junior Tristen Derenburger during the Vikings’ 48-44 victory Monday. Eric Maxim / The Times Record

The Dragons started fast, as junior Maddy Werner spun and made a layup and after Ella Pelletier banked home a shot to tie it, Werner drove for another layup and junior Emily Doring sank a 3-pointer for a quick 7-2 advantage.

Oxford Hills responded, as Pelletier made a jumper in the lane, then Carson set up Corbett for a fastbreak layup.

After Carlton hit a 3 in the corner for the home team, Carson took an inbounds feed from Corbett and hit a jumper, then Carson converted a runner in the lane to make it 10-10 after eight minutes.

In the first period, the Vikings missed all four of their 3-point attempts.

Junior Tristen Derenburger then ended the drought 42 seconds into the second quarter, hitting a 3 to give Oxford Hills its first lead.


Brunswick responded, as Carlton hit a runner in the lane, then senior Sophia Morin drove for a layup with 6:16 on the clock.

But the Dragons wouldn’t convert another field goal for a long, long time.

Brunswick’s hopes were compromised when Carlton and Carson dove for a loose ball and Carlton got the worse of the collision, losing a couple of teeth and having to come out of the game for the remainder of the half.

With 1:29 left before the break, Tibbetts banked home a 3 to snap the Vikings’ 5 minute, 49 second scoring drought, putting them ahead to stay.

Twenty-two seconds later, Sophia Morin made one of two foul shots to end the Dragons’ 5:09 drought, but with just over a second remaining, Carson set up Corbett for a long 3 which found nothing but net and Oxford Hills held a 19-15 halftime advantage, despite making just 1 of its first 10 3-point tries and committing 11 turnovers in the game’s first 16 minutes.

Brunswick senior Kelsie Carlton defends Oxford Hills sophomore Gabbie Tibbetts. Eric Maxim / The Times Record

Carlton returned for Brunswick to start the second half, but the Vikings quickly opened up their lead, as Corbett passed to Carson, who buried a 3, then junior Maddy Miller scored on a putback and in transition, Carson fed Pelletier for a layup and a 26-15 lead.


With 3:53 to play in the third quarter, Werner scored on a putback for the Dragons’ first field goal in 10 minutes, 23 seconds, but 15 seconds later, at the other end, Corbett passed to Carson, who drained another 3 for what proved to be Oxford Hills’ biggest lead of the night.

“As long as we got shots up, we knew they would fall,” said Carson. “We have good shooters, but we just had to warm up.”

“We hit shots, that’s what we do,” Nate Pelletier said. “Shooters will shoot and we weren’t going to stop doing it.”

Doring countered with a 3 for the hosts, but Corbett drained a 3-pointer at the other end to keep the margin at a dozen.

Brunswick then closed the period strong, as Shipley scored on a putback for her first points and Werner added a short jumper to make the score 32-24 heading for the fourth period.

Again, the Vikings threatened to break it open, as Carson stole the ball, then fed Derenburger in transition for a 3.


After Shipley scored on a layup and Werner scored on a putback to cut the deficit to seven, Carson countered with a clutch 3 for a 38-28 lead.

Wiht 5:57 to go, Werner fed Alexis Morin for a layup, but 15 seconds later, Corbett sank a long 3 and Oxford Hills was up 11.

Alexis Morin took a pass from Werner and converted a reverse layup, but with 4:40 to go, two Carson free throws made it 43-32.

The Dragons then erupted for 10 points in just over two minutes time to make things most interesting.

The rally began when Shipley drained a 3.

She then hit another to make it a five-point contest.


With 2:40 remaining, Carlton drove to the basket, wouldn’t be denied and laid the ball in.

Then, with 2:17 left, Werner grabbed a loose ball and passed ahead to Alexis Morin, who dribbled in and made a layup to cut the deficit to just one, forcing Nate Pelletier to call timeout.

“My coaches told me to call timeout, but I’m always one to err on letting the girls play because we’re so athletic,” Pelletier said. “I should have burned a timeout earlier.”

Oxford Hills then responded like the champion it hopes to become, as Miller passed to Corbett in the corner and with 2:03 remaining, Corbett calmly drained a clutch 3 to make it a two-possession game.

Brunswick countered 53 seconds later, as Carlton drove for another layup.

The Dragons had only been whistled for two fouls to that point and had to turn to fouling the Vikings in an effort to get the ball back.


With 40.6 seconds on the clock, Ella Pelletier went to the line for a one-and-one and her first attempt, went in, appeared on the brink of popping back out, then dropped through successfully. Pelletier swished the next attempt and Oxford Hills was up four.

“Ella’s free throws really sealed it for us,” Nate Pelletier said.

Shipley then had a chance to cut into the deficit, but her bank shot was just off the mark and Pelletier got the rebound.

With 20.8 seconds to go, Carson went to the line with a chance to ice it, but she missed the front end of a one-and-one.

It wouldn’t matter, as Shipley missed a long 3, then Werner was off target as well and the horn sounded allowing the Vikings to celebrate a 48-44 victory.

“This was awesome,” said Carson. “This was great to get us prepared for the playoffs. Usually when you have this energy, it’s tournament time. Brunswick’s a great team and they have the potential to win it in their class. We haven’t seen a lot of teams who can shoot like they can. It just fell in our favor at the end. We handled the pressure.”


The Dartmouth College-bound Carson led all scorers with 15 points and also had eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Corbett added 14 points, to go with four assists and three rebounds.

Ella Pelletier had eight points, 11 rebounds and blocked two shots.

Derenburger added six points, Tibbetts had three and Miller two (to go with four rebounds).

Oxford Hills out-rebounded Brunswick, 33-31, made 10 3-pointers and hit 4-of-6 free throws while overcoming 15 turnovers.

“We hoped to get some offensive rebounds, but those (Brunswick) kids are super-long,” said Nate Pelletier. “Sierra got some big ones down the stretch.”


The Dragons were led by 10 points apiece from Shipley (four rebounds) and Werner (eight rebounds, five assists and three blocks). Carlton, despite being limited after her dental misadventure, had nine points.

“(Kelsie) lost a tooth versus Bangor and two more in this game, but she came back unfazed,” said Brunswick coach Sam Farrell. “That gave us a lift. This is her team.”

Alexis Morin added six points (and six rebounds), Doring had six points (and three steals) and Sophia Morin finished with three (to go with three rebounds).

Brunswick made 1-of-2 free throws and turned the ball over 11 times.

“We almost pulled off the comeback,” said Farrell. “We missed a lot of layups and you have to hit them in a game like this. We rebounded and contested shots and got steals to make the comeback happen. We just missed some defensive rotations. They drew us in and kicked it out and everyone on that team can shoot. They’re tough.

“Oxford Hills, along with Cheverus, is one of the best teams in the state and we held our own against them. Scheduling Bangor and Oxford Hills this year was huge for us. These games show us where we can get better.”


Season finale

Oxford Hills (currently ranked second in the Class AA North Heal Points standings) finishes its regular season at Hampden Academy Thursday. With a win, the Vikings will likely be the top seed for the regional tournament.

“I think we’re ready,” Carson said. “We have to get through out last game, we can’t take it for granted. I think we just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

“The number one seed is there for the taking, but let’s just play whoever is on the docket, roll the ball out and see how it goes,” Nate Pelletier said. “We have some fine-tuning to do, but the girls are ready to make a run.”

Brunswick will be the top seed for the Class A South tournament. The Dragons play host to rival Mt. Ararat in their finale Thursday, then look to finish what last year’s team started and get all the way to the state final.

“We don’t want to go out like we did last year,” Farrell said. “This might be the best defensive team I’ve had. We just have to capitalize on offense. I’d like to see us deliver the knockout blow earlier in games.

“Teams 1 through 8 will all be tough. We can’t take anyone for granted. We’ll have to come and play for 32 minutes.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at

Comments are not available on this story.