AUGUSTA — Both Rangeley girls basketball coach Heidi Deery and Vinalhaven coach Sandy Nelson say the mental aspect of the game is the biggest key to Saturday’s Class D South championship game. For Rangeley, that means sticking to the plan. For Vinalhaven, that means not being intimidated by Rangeley.

“Keeping our composure,” Nelson said. “(The players) have a mental issue with Rangeley. We’ll be all right.”

“I suspect (Vinalhaven will) come out and give us an opportunity to really work hard. We’ve just got to stay focused,” Deery said. “If we can keep everybody focused on what we need to do, we’re going to have to play 32 minutes. They’re a tough team. They’re not going to lay down.”

No. 1 Rangeley (19-1) will face No. 3 Vinalhaven (15-4) at the Augusta Civic Center at 1:05 p.m. Saturday. The winner will be back in Augusta on Feb. 27 for the Class D state championship game.

Rangeley, the defending regional champ, is playing in the regional final for a fifth consecutive season. For Vinalhaven, this is the deepest run in the playoffs since the Vikings reached the Class D West final in 2008.

These teams played a pair of games at Vinalhaven last month, with Rangeley winning both, 55-35 and 48-38. The Lakers have won 19 straight games since a season-opening loss to Richmond.

“We’re just focused on playing our game and kind of setting the tempo and really forcing the other team to make the mistakes. We’re capable of doing that if we stick to our game plan,” Deery said.

The Lakers cruised through the first two rounds, winning by 47 and 37 points. While Rangeley has a 1,000 point scorer in 6-foot-2 senior center Blayke Morin, the Lakers have shown scoring depth in the tournament. Morin scored 15 points in the Lakers’ quarterfinal win over Greater Portland Christian. Sophomore forward Sydney Royce scored 22 points in that game, and followed that with 22 more against Temple Academy in the semifinals on Thursday. Sophomore guard Natasha Haley scored 14 in the win over Greater Portland Christian.

Vinalhaven is led by sophomore center Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the Vikings’ semifinal win over Valley. She added 21 points in a quarterfinal win over Pine Tree Academy. Ashyln Littlefield and Paige Dennison are also scoring threats for Vinalhaven.

“They’re a good team, and they’ve got a good player in Davis-Oakes,” Deery said. “They’ve got some good shooters. They shoot a lot over there on the island. They’re unconscious with their shooting, so you’ve got to play them.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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