AUGUSTA — As expected, Rangeley eased past Valley to advance to the semifinals of the Western Class D girls basketball tournament.

Outside of that not much else went according to plan in the Western D quarters Tuesday at the Augusta Civic Center as No. 1 Pine Tree and No. 3 Forest Hills were each knocked out by lower seeds.

As a result, the second-seeded Lakers will face No. 6 Searsport Friday at 10 a.m. and No. 4 Richmond will play No. 9 Vinalhaven at 11:30 a.m. After his team knocked off No. 3 Forest Hills 49-35 Tuesday, Searsport coach Melvin Grant was excited at the prospect of taking on the Western D favorite.

“We’re looking forward to Rangeley. We hope it is Rangeley. Not really for revenge, but we’d like to have the opportunity,” Grant said. “We really feel like they’re the best going into it and we want a chance to beat the best right off.

“We’ll see. I haven’t seen them play, we’ve had scouts on them all year and we know they’re good. They’re going to be a battle for us. It’s going to be a tougher battle than it was (Tuesday).”

If the Vikings are going to pull off their second upset in as many games than they are going to have to find a way to contend with the Lakers’ superior size. Anna Bucklin, a 5-foot-5 forward, had success in the paint against the Tigers, but they do not have anyone nearly as big as 6-foot-1 Taylor Esty or 6-foot-2 Blayke Morin.

The matchup to watch, however, will be on the perimeter. Rangeley’s Seve Deery-DeRaps and Melinda Ogden are two players who can light it up from outside if they get going.

That said, Rangeley will be taking the same approach to this game as it did the last, focusing not on who is favored but rather who is in front of them.

“They play a tough schedule so their record really doesn’t represent what they’re capable of. If they played in the East-West conference they’d definitely be one of the top teams,” Rangeley coach Heidi Deery said. “They have a lot to contend with their top scorer. We’re going to have to play our game.”

Like Searsport, Richmond also played a more challenging schedule and it paid off Tuesday in its 32-22 win over No. 5 Hyde in the quarterfinals. Having played the Bobcats twice during the regular season, Vinalhaven is well aware of what to expect.

“First game was a Friday night and I think we lost by four or five points,” Vinalhaven coach Sandy Nelson said. “Then Saturday morning we got blown out, so it is what it is.

“I know that (Kelsea Anair) is a big presence and that (Sydney Tilton) is a big presence. We just have to come out here to play.”

Anair and Tilton combined for 22 of Richmond’s 32 points in its quarterfinal win, while sophomore guard Meranda Martin is a strong defensive player who often draws the assignment of the opposition’s best perimeter player. Junior captain Julie Plummer will dress but will not be available to play against the Vikings as she continues to work her way back from a concussion.

Vinalhaven knocked off top-seeded Pine Tree 45-43 in the quarters and did so largely behind the play of freshman. Of the Vikings 45 points, 41 were scored by ninth-graders. Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes — a 5-foot-10 center — led that charge with 24 points, while 5-foot-5 guard Paige Dennis had 13.

Even though the Bobcats have beaten the Vikings twice already this season, they know a third win will not come easy. Vinalhaven has shown a great deal of resiliency so far in the tournament, as it erased a 17-0 deficit in the preliminary round to beat Buckfield and 14-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter against Pine Tree.

“We’re going to have to be prepared. We’re going to have to fight for every loose ball because we know they’re going to,” Richmond coach Mike Ladner said. “They weren’t supposed to be here. They have nothing to lose.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley


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