AUGUSTA — Friday night’s frigid temperatures must have seeped into the Ryan Family Gymnasium as both Oxford Hills and host Cony went stone cold for extended periods of time during their Class A basketball matchup.
Each team registered a scoreless period, Oxford Hills in the second and Cony in the third in a game that wasn’t decided until the final minute. The visiting Vikings pulled out a 36-32 victory on the strength on seven fourth-quarter free throws from Crystal West and some poor execution from the Rams down the stretch.
“It’s coming along,” said Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier, whose team is 3-3. “If you can hit some free throws down the stretch you’re going to win a lot of games.”
Cony trailed 23-18 entering the fourth quarter but regained the momentum and tied the score at 26 with a six-point run capped by Abby Wormell’s layup off a nice penetration feed from Emily Quirion. West answered with four free throws, the last two after Cony coach Ted Rioux was assessed a technical foul. Anna Winslow added a foul shot to put the Vikings up 31-26, before Quirion cut the lead to two with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
The Rams (5-3) fouled West as Oxford Hills went into a stall and she made both free throws, then they turned the ball over on the next possession and Winslow slipped free down court for an uncontested layup.
“I have no explanation,” Rioux said. “We didn’t play well and we lost. You have to score the basketball.”
The Rams struggled against the Vikings zone in the first quarter and trailed 10-7, but once they scored they were able to get into their press and force turnovers, 17 in the first half alone.
Hayley Quirion scored seven of her team-high 10 points in the quarter in which the Vikings took just three shots and missed them all. The Rams led 18-10 at the half and as quickly as they had seized the momentum, they lost in the third period.
“We went cold and we just didn’t have the energy in the third quarter,” Quirion said. “A couple of us are sick, but I don’t know, we just didn’t have the energy today.”
The Vikings also controlled the boards and forced the Rams into a lot of deep three-point attempts. Brooke Murch finished with 10 rebounds while sophomore Tianna Sugars grabbed nine. West led Oxford Hills with 11 points while Winslow scored eight. Emily Quirion added nine points for Cony.