AUGUSTA, Maine — Second-ranked Deering of Portland scored 13 unanswered points over the final 2 minutes and 56 seconds of play Tuesday night for a come-from-behind 73-67 victory over Oxford Hills of South Paris in a Class AA North boys basketball semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center.

Deering (17-2) will play top-ranked Portland (18-1) in Friday night’s Class AA North final. Portland rolled by No. 4 Edward Little 70-43 in the late game.

No. 3 Oxford Hills concluded its season at 15-5.

The game-ending comeback began innocently enough after a brief delay in play to wipe off a wet spot on the court with 3:05 to play.

Oxford Hills, leading 67-60, then called a 30-second timeout before the game resumed, and the Vikings never scored again.

“I grabbed my teammates and told them we’ve been here before against (Thornton Academy in a comeback win),” said Deering senior forward Anthony Lobor. “It’s not a big deal, we just play our defense and take it one possession at a time.”

Lobor started the comeback by scoring from the low post with 2:56 to go, then Raffaele Salamone and Lobor each converted two free throws to draw the Rams within 67-66 with 1:29 left.

Ben Williams came in from behind to strip Oxford Hills star Andrew Fleming of the basketball on the ensuing possession, and Deering teammate Max Chabot was fouled at the other end while attempting a 3-point goal.

The senior guard calmly made all three free throws to give Deering what turned out to be the lead for good at 69-67 with 55.9 seconds remaining.

Williams then stole the ball in backcourt and scored to make it 71-67, and Malik White added two insurance free throws with less than a second remaining to cap off the shocking turn of events.

“I know that we rely on spurts,” said Deering coach Todd Wing. “We had our spurt at the right time, but it always comes, it’s not a mistake. That’s just what we do and who we are.”

White finished with 23 points to pace Deering, while Lobor had 15 points and nine rebounds and Salamone scored 10 points.

Fleming, the University of Maine-bound senior coming off a 42-point performance in the quarterfinals, finished with a game-high 28 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, but Deering limited him to 12 field-goal attempts after a first period when he scored 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field.

“It’s a difficult task,” said Lobor, who had the primary defensive assignment against Fleming. “He is a D-1 player, he’s really good, he jumps really high, he can shoot the ball, he can do everything. But we played our hearts out and we had the help-side defense and we did the job.”

That help-side defense was most noticeable during the second half thanks to an adjustment in the Deering game plan designed not only to cope with Fleming but a red-hot start from 3-point land that propelled Oxford Hills to a 39-36 halftime lead.

Matthew Fleming, a freshman forward and Andrew Fleming’s younger brother, added 13 points and six rebounds for Oxford Hills, which was seeking its first regional crown since 1990.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...