AUGUSTA — When the Valley boys basketball team rolled into the Augusta Civic Center last season, Joey Thomas watched from the bench, a broken leg rendering him a sideline supporter.

The sophomore’s impact was a bit more palpable on his return trip.

Thomas scored a game-high 18 points, including four 3-pointers, and Nathan Ames added 12 as No. 3 Valley shook off No. 6 Vinalhaven 73-50 in a Class D South quarterfinal Saturday morning.

“First time playing on this court,” said Thomas, who broke his leg during the fall soccer season last year. “It feels good to step up. I was nervous at first.”

The Cavaliers —the defending Class D state champs — will play No. 2 A.R. Gould in a regional semifinal at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The Bears ousted the Bereans 76-63.

Senior captain Austin Cates scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Cavs (12-7), who withstood a couple Vinalhaven runs before pulling away for good in the second half.

Josh Brown and Dillon Beane each scored eight points for Valley as well.

“They were ready to play,” Valley coach Curtis Miller said.

Cody Hamilton and Max Stanley each scored a team-high 15 points for Vinalhaven (7-12), which was blown out in both regular season meetings with Valley (losing 66-39 and 71-46 in mid-December) but made things interesting — for three quarters anyway — in front of a modest crowd at the Civic Center for the first game of a jam-packed Saturday.

Hamilton, a 6-foot-1 senior center/forward who scored his 1,000th career point in the regular season, also had eight rebounds.

“He’s tough to guard because he’s so big,” Miller said. “Once he gets going, he’s tough to stop. If you hold him under 20 points, you are doing pretty good.”

Valley trailed 18-15 after the first quarter but pulled ahead 28-21 after a pair of Cates buckets, two free throws from Keegan Farnham and a tough drive to the basket for two by Ames — who split a pair of defenders with a nifty move.

Thomas hit a deep 3-pointer with six seconds left in the half to give Valley a commanding 38-29 lead.

“One of things we had to do was make sure they didn’t hit a lot of 3-pointers,” Hamilton said, “and we didn’t do that.”

Vinalhaven, however, refused to go away and opened the third on a 7-1 run to pull within three again, 39-36. But that would be as close as the Vikings would get, as the energetic Cavs closed the quarter on a 13-2 run, including seven points from Thomas.

“We picked it up in the second half,” Miller said.

Added Cates: “We had a pretty good start but they came right back at us. The middle of the third we started to pick it up.

The Cavaliers (12-7) opened the game on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a Justin Brown 3-pointer and a nice putback by Beane, but the Vikings quickly pulled themselves back with a spurt of their own.

Hamilton, who presented some matchup problems in paint, hit a few tough baskets inside and Stanley connected on two pull-up jumpers as the Vikings used a 14-4 run to grab a 14-11 lead.

“We were expecting them to fight,” Cates said. “We expected a tough game.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5618

[email protected]

Twitter: @billstewartMTM

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