Deering High School’s Cinderella run in the Class AA North bracket came to an end in the regional final Friday, as the seventh-seeded Rams fell to a stacked Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School lineup led by Julia Colby and her 14 points.
The final score was 51-29 in favor of the Vikings, who had six players with at least five points each.
Deering entered the tournament with a 4-14 regular season record that included a 12-game losing streak. But the Rams flipped the bracket and beat No. 2 Windham High School in the quarterfinals, 41-26, and No. 3 Bangor High School in the semis, 34-17.
The only opponent left to complete a sweep of the top-seeded teams was Oxford Hills, but the No. 1 Vikings weren’t playing along in the fairy tale Friday.
The Vikings dominated from the start, scoring the game’s first seven points and holding the Rams scoreless until nearly the midway point of the first period. Oxford Hills as a team connected on five first-half three-pointers, including two by Margaret Hartnett.
By halftime, Oxford Hills had built up a 27-13 advantage, then continued rolling in the second half, when Colby did most of her damage, pouring in 10 of her points after the break.
Behind Colby, Hartnett finished with nine points for the Vikings, while teammate Cecilia Dieterich scored another eight. In a well-rounded attack, Bailey Whitney and Cassidy Dumont each scored six for Oxford Hills and Jade Smedberg tacked on five.
Oxford Hills, playing in its fifth regional final in six years, will now go on to its third state championship game since 2014.
The Vikings lost to reigning champions in both of their previous recent title game appearances, to Gorham High School in 2017 and the now-closed Catherine McAuley High School of Portland in 2014. Oxford Hills has only played for the gold ball one other time, in 2008, when the Vikings fell to Deering in the championship game.
The Deering girls missed the tournament last season, but reached the Class AA North final in 2017.
The Rams were led on Friday by Elizabeth Drelich, who scored 11. Senior Ram captain and Miss Maine Basketball award semifinalist Delaney Haines, who scored 15 in Deering’s semifinal upset of Bangor, scored five against the Vikings in the regional final, as did teammate Aviyonna Kim.