AUGUSTA — The Valley girls basketball team is comfortable as any team can be when playing from behind.

“We don’t get too rattled,” coach Paul Belanger said. “We’ve been down in a lot of games this season and we’ve been able to maintain our poise.”

And so here the seventh-seeded Cavaliers were Saturday morning, trailing No. 2 Forest Hills 11-2 after the first eight minutes of a Class D South quarterfinal.

Panic time?

“No,” Valley senior guard Jordan Belanger said. “We knew we could come back.”

And come back they did.

Jordan Belanger led a balanced scoring attack with nine points and Kendra Sweet hit two big 3-pointers as Valley stormed back to steal a 31-22 victory at the Augusta Civic Center.

“We got down early but then we settled down,” Paul Belanger said. “Once we got our feet under us, we were OK.”

Haven Mayhew scored seven points and Sweet finished with six as Valley (9-10) advanced to the regional semifinals Thursday, when it will meet either No. 3 Vinalhaven (14-4) or No. 6 Pine Tree Academy (10-8).

Those teams play here Monday at 8:30 a.m.

“We never gave up,” Mayhew said. “We just felt we could come back (Saturday). We stepped it up.”

The bigger and more athletic Tigers (14-5), who swept the two regular season meetings by 11 and nine points, appeared they would cruise into the semifinals thanks to senior captain Linda Riley and the at-times dominant Caitlin Logston, who scored her team’s first seven points and finished with a game-high 12 to go along with 10 rebounds. Riley finished with six assists but was held to just two points.

“They are probably the two best athletes in the D tournament,” Paul Belanger said. “We knew we’d have some trouble with them.”

The Cavs did early, but they double- and triple-teamed Logston down low the entire second half, which made the difference.

“Weak-side defense,” Paul Belanger said. “We pressured her before the pass came.”

Trailing 13-5 midway through the second quarter, the Cavs fought back when Samantha West (five points) and Sweet hit 3-pointers to make it a 14-11 game.

“Those were big,” Sweet said. “That helped us come back.”

Forest Hills led 16-11 at the intermission but Valley opened the second half with an 8-0 run — punctuated by another Sweet 3-pointer with 1:40 left in the third quarter that gave it their first lead, 19-16.

“We hit a couple big 3’s and that was the ball game.” Paul Belanger said.

Forest Hills, with its potent inside game neutralized, never really recovered the rest of the way.

“It was tough,” Riley said. “After the first quarter we felt good. We were like, ‘oh, we’re good.’ Then they just came back. They kept going and we didn’t know what to do.”

Valley spent the bulk of the fourth quarter at the free throw line, where it made eight of its 14 attempts to seal the victory.

“Once we got that lead we just got into the groove,” Jordan Belanger said. “(Forest Hills) got frustrated and we just stuck to what we were doing.”

Bill Stewart —621-5618

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Twitter: @billstewartMTM

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