Boys’ basketball: St. Pierre, Fleming lead Vikings in comeback win over Eagles
Randy Whitehouse, Staff Writer
Tuesday December 20, 2016 at 10:29pm
PARIS — Windham was determined to not let Oxford Hills sophomore Matt Fleming beat it in Tuesday night’s Class AA North thriller. Luckily for the Vikings, Fleming knew it, too.
Trailing by one, Fleming found an open Chris St. Pierre underneath the basket, and the Eagles were forced to foul him with 1.7 seconds left. The senior coolly knocked down the game-tying free throw, then, after a Windham time out, swished the second to complete a dramatic 15-point comeback for Oxford Hills and a 61-60 victory.
“We came back from a lot in this game,” St. Pierre said. “We were down 15 at the start of the quarter. Matt led the charge and as a team we played defense. We stopped them, and at the end of the game I just had the shots.”
With several of their players, including St. Pierre, battling foul trouble, Fleming carried the Vikings (3-2) offensively for much of the night with 32 points, to go with 14 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots. St. Pierre added 10 points.
Nick Curtis led the Eagles (1-3) with 24 points and six rebounds, while Hunter Coffin added 14 points and six rebounds.
In the third quarter, Curtis and Coffin (eight points in the quarter) exploited the Vikings’ triangle-and-two defense designed to slow down Curtis, a wily point guard, to expand an eight-point halftime lead to 15 points, 52-37.
“They solved it. Number 11 (Coffin) killed us. We weren’t guarding him,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “So we had to go away from that and had to go back to man in the fourth quarter, and we dug in. We really dug in.”
After a Fleming 3 cut the deficit to 12 to start the quarter, he and St. Pierre converted back-to-back steals into layups, the latter resulting in a three-point play by Fleming, to quickly pull within seven.
“That was huge. We wanted it more. We could tell they were rattled,” Fleming said. “We just wanted to get in the passing lanes and pressure them as much as we could. The intensity was big.”
The Vikings forced five Windham turnovers in the first three minutes of the period and nine in the quarter. But the Eagles still had a 57-48 lead with 5:50 remaining after Chris Brown hit a 3-pointer.
Fleming’s second dunk of the game off another steal sparked a 13-3 Vikings run to close the game out. He followed that with a nice feed inside to Colton Carson (six points, nine rebounds) and a pair of free throws to pull Oxford Hills back within 57-55 with three minutes to go.
“Matthew Fleming showed how good a player he is by taking that game over,” Graffam said.
“We made some mental errors,” Windham coach Chad Pulkkinen said. “In a game where the crowd is ready to erupt, with those errors, the crowd kind of got them back in the swing of things.”
With Windham leading 59-56, the Vikings had a couple of chances to pull even, but they missed back-to-back 3s. The Eagles kept the door open, though, and Fleming tied the game with a pull-up jumper from the key while being fouled with 40 seconds remaining.
Curtis put the Eagles back in front by making one of two from the line with 29 seconds left.
Graffam called a time out with 7.9 seconds left to set up the Vikings’ final play for Fleming.
“I was going to go to the rim until I got stopped,” Fleming said. “If someone stopped me, it had to be a double-team. I knew Chris was wide open under the rim on the same play the time before and I missed him.”
Fleming’s first dunk capped a 10-2 Oxford Hills run to start the game. But the offense quickly lost whatever traction it had gained and Windham closed the quarter with an 11-2 run to take a 13-12 lead.
Aside from Fleming, the Vikings’ offensive woes continued for the rest of the half (10-for-31 shooting). Windham prospered from the foul line (12-for-17) to build a 34-26 lead, which could have been worse if not for the efforts of the reserves who were pressed into action by the starters’ foul trouble.
“We were lucky to be in that game at halftime. Those little sophomores that went out and played defense for us — Janek Luksza, Cameron Slicer, Spencer Strong, Garrett Record — played their asses off,” Graffam said. “We had one player ineligible, Trevor (Goodrich) was hurt (and) we had foul trouble. So it was really a win through adversity.”
“We had guys come off the bench and help us. Cameron Slicer and Janek really showed up defensively and it helped us in the end,” St. Pierre said.