AUGUSTA — On a morning when neither team could find its shooting touch, it was a defensive move Thursday morning at the Augusta Civic Center that made the difference.

“I said, ‘I think it’s time to come out in some man-to-man,'” Vinalhaven girls basketball coach Sandy Nelson said.

Nelson’s Vikings smothered Valley throughout the Class D South semifinal and Vinalhaven used that defensive effort to take a 37-22 win.

No. 3 Vinalhaven (16-4) will face No. 1 Rangeley (19-1) in the regional final Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center. No. 7 Valley ends the season 9-11.

The last time these teams played, at Vinalhaven in December, the Vikings took a one-point win. Valley coach Paul Belanger acknowledged Vinalhaven’s defense was the difference and added that missed offensive opportunities cost his team, too. The Cavaliers missed 12 uncontested layups.

“That’s 24 points, right there. We just laid an egg this morning,” Belanger said.

Vinalhaven led 13-2 after one quarter and 19-6 at the half. Valley didn’t reach double digits in scoring until Jordan Belanger’s layup early in the fourth quarter. The Cavs found some offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 points, but by then they were playing catchup.

“They were a little cold today. They shoot better than that,” Nelson said of Valley. “Last time in our gym, we beat them by one point. Our defense was the difference because we did not shoot the ball well today.”

Thanks to its defensive effort, Vinalhaven was able to overcome a poor shooting day and 20 turnovers of its own. Belanger was happy with Valley’s defensive effort.

“You win games with your defense, but you’ve got to score points,” Belanger said.

Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes led the Vikings with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Ashlyn Littlefield added nine points for Vinalhaven, while Deja Doughty scored eight.

Kendra Sweet, Davis and Jordan Belanger each scored five points for Valley. Belanger also had nine rebounds.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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