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Back in the Saddle: Maxwell Brings Veteran Presence to Oxbow Boys

  • During a time out, Oxbow Coach Mike Maxwellcongratulates players after a solid first few minutes of the second quarter during the Oxbow at Springfield boys basketball game in Springfield, Vt., on Dec. 16, 2013. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    During a time out, Oxbow Coach Mike Maxwellcongratulates players after a solid first few minutes of the second quarter during the Oxbow at Springfield boys basketball game in Springfield, Vt., on Dec. 16, 2013.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap

  • Oxbow's Joseph Wood takes a shot during the Oxbow at Springfield boys basketball game in Springfield, Vt., on Dec. 16, 2013. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Oxbow's Joseph Wood takes a shot during the Oxbow at Springfield boys basketball game in Springfield, Vt., on Dec. 16, 2013.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap

  • Oxbow's Miles Garone (25), left, and Hayden Tomlinson (22), block Springfield's Josh Rivers (21), as he looks to make a shot during the Oxbow at Springfield boys basketball game in Springfield, Vt., on Dec. 16, 2013. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Oxbow's Miles Garone (25), left, and Hayden Tomlinson (22), block Springfield's Josh Rivers (21), as he looks to make a shot during the Oxbow at Springfield boys basketball game in Springfield, Vt., on Dec. 16, 2013.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap

  • During a time out, Oxbow Coach Mike Maxwellcongratulates players after a solid first few minutes of the second quarter during the Oxbow at Springfield boys basketball game in Springfield, Vt., on Dec. 16, 2013. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Oxbow's Joseph Wood takes a shot during the Oxbow at Springfield boys basketball game in Springfield, Vt., on Dec. 16, 2013. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Oxbow's Miles Garone (25), left, and Hayden Tomlinson (22), block Springfield's Josh Rivers (21), as he looks to make a shot during the Oxbow at Springfield boys basketball game in Springfield, Vt., on Dec. 16, 2013. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

Springfield, Vt. — Mike Maxwell may be new to the Oxbow High boys basketball program, but he’s certainly not new to the game.

He’s been coaching since 1966, and the 66-year-old brought the Olympians to Springfield Monday night to do three things: Play defense, play enthusiastically and pressure people.

“I think we did all three of those things,” said Maxwell, who saw his Olympians open the season with a 49-36 win over the Cosmos at Dressel Gym.

Maxwell says the team is trying to rebuild, and he appears to be the man to do the job. Consider what previous coaching stops he has made: Vermont Technical College, Lyndon State College, Norwich University and Southern Maine University. He also coached the Twinfield High boys to four state championships and coached the Oxbow girls after Mona Garone retired. And there’s more, as he spent some time with the now-defunct Vermont Frost Heaves minor-league franchise.

“There’s some other stops, but I think that will do for now,” he said.

He has a starting five, but it was hard to keep track of who that was as he began substituting quickly, at times putting five in and taking five out. Even with the subs, the teams set a blistering pace for opening night.

But through all the substitutions and racehorse basketball, the difference in the game was most likely the defense the Olympians played all night.

“Defense is what I’ve been preaching since day one,” said Maxwell.

While Oxbow was a 13-point winner, the victory was not that easy. The Cosmos were a game gang and only fell out of contention in the final minutes.

“You know, the pace was great and we got some good looks,” said Springfield coach Pete Peck. “We just didn’t make the shots.”

Springfield also went heavily to the bench. The back-and-forth basketball was tiring for two teams playing their first games after a very short preseason.

“One of the things we have to do more is get the ball to Josh Rivers,” said Peck. Rivers had a seven-point game, but didn’t get the ball too often.

When Rivers was taken out of the game in the fourth quarter, the first person to shake his hand was Maxwell.

“He’s a tough kid, and I appreciate kids that play that hard.” Maxwell said.

Springfield looked like it was a real trouble when they it behind 21-9 in the second quarter, Oxbow scored the first 13 points of the period, but Springfield’s Justin Gomez, who had a 16-point game off the bench, hit a 3-pointer and led a 12-4 Springfield rally that allowed the Cosmos to get excited as they trailed just 26-21 at the break.

Springfield stayed within reach through three quarters, but the Cosmos could not find the extra spark. Even as Oxbow’s offense struggled, the Olympians’ defense never faltered.

Oxbow got a 15-point game from Jonny Ratel and nine points from Eddie White as nine different Olympians scored. Freshman Joseph Wood was a force off the boards for Oxbow.