Feb. 23—PARIS — Edward Little sure liked shooting the 3-pointer in the first half, but what it really took to beat Oxford Hills on Monday was the Red Eddies' inside game and some strong-arming on defense.
The Vikings (5-1) never knuckled under despite several commanding leads by the Eddies (4-2), who escaped with a 66-60 boys basketball victory.
"I thought, up until tonight, we've been up and down with effort and toughness," Edward Little coach Mike Adams said. "Coming to Oxford Hills, these guys are always are tough, and now they are good, too. But they are young, they are good and playing well.
"I think we answered the toughness bell today and I think we answered the team-work bell. Today we did a better job reversing the ball and not settling for shots. So I guess the best defensive team that we've played so far this year, we did a much better job scoring as a team instead as individuals. So I am really proud of them."
There were heroics on both sides of the court in a dazzling fourth quarter, during which EL's 50-38 lead dwindled as the Vikings stepped up their game.
That's when the Red Eddies concentrated on getting the ball inside to junior center John Shea, who scored eight of his game-high 30 points the fourth quarter. Junior forward Pat Anthoine helped out with 13 points, including dropping in three of EL's eight 3-pointers. Senior guard RJ Nichols drained four treys and finished with 12 points.
Senior guard Tyson Green spent the evening calling shots from the top of the key.
"I mean, it is a big job, especially for this sport," he said. "You've got to conduct the team. You have to tell them what to do and make smart decisions — very important.
"I feel as a team we played really strong. We had to step up to our opponent. We had to play their physicality. I feel like we followed through with that."
Oxford Hills responded with their own brand of shoveling the ball inside. Sophomore Cole Pulkkinen kept the Vikings in the game in the third quarter, scoring 11 of his team-leading 23 points as well as knocking down three of Oxford Hills' seven 3-pointers. Teammates Teigan Pelletier scored 12 points and Hayden Paine added 10.
"Pulikkinen —(it was) the best game of his career. He played really, really well tonight," Oxford Hills Vikings coach Scott Graffam said. "I am very proud of him."
The first half featured an array long-range ordinance from the perimeter. Each team had no problem with launching 3-pointers at will.
By halftime, though, the Red Eddies were on top 32-22.
"In the second half, we played a lot better, Graffam said. "We didn't compete in the second period there. Gave up wide-open shots. When we went zone, we didn't recognize their shooters. When we went man, Shea ... we couldn't stop him. So we had no answer for that.
"The second half, we had some pressure on the ball. We did a little bit better job, not a great job. Offensively, we played better. I was happy about that."