AUGUSTA — Vinalhaven was hanging around and two Rangeley players had fouled out. That’s when Tori Letarte made what Rangeley coach Heidi Deery called the play of the game.

Rangeley led by seven points when Letarte, a 5-foot-6 sophomore, rebounded her own miss twice and scored on her third attempt in close with about two minutes to play.

The second-seeded Lakers held on from there to earn a 54-46 win in the Western Maine Class D girls basketball semifinals Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center.

“That just kind of broke their back,” Deery said. “That kid, that just to me showed the kind of intensity and belief that we kept saying, no matter what, we are going to keep working. That was a kind of moment that said, ‘We are going to do it.’ “

No. 2 Rangeley improved to 18-2 and advanced to play No. 1 Richmond in the regional final at 1:05 p.m. Saturday.

No. 6 Vinalhaven ended the season 11-9.

Rangeley took its first lead of the game early in the second quarter and didn’t trail the rest of the way. The Lakers, however, never led by more than seven until the fourth quarter. Rangeley finally got some breathing room early in the fourth quarter after a 3-pointer by Emily Carrier and a bucket by Blayke Morin.

Vinalhaven never let Rangeley pull away and was within seven after Eliza Davidson hit a pair of foul shots with 2 minutes, 51 seconds left. The Lakers, at that point, were playing without forward Taylor Esty and center Jenney Abbott after both fouled out.

That’s when Letarte went to work down low, grabbing a pair of offensive rebounds and scoring from the left side to put Rangeley ahead 50-41.

“I’ve been really working on making my layups because I’ve been having trouble,” Letarte said. “But I knew with all the confidence I’ve gained over the season by my team helping me out, I needed to get that basket.”

Letarte finished with a game-high 12 points for Rangeley, while Carrier added 10, including a pair of key 3-point baskets in the second half.

Ashley Hamilton and Eliza Drury each had 11 points for Vinalhaven.

Scott Martin — 621-5618

[email protected]

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