AUGUSTA — It’s dealt with a late-season coaching change. It travels an estimated 218 miles round trip to play a basketball game.

None of that has phased the Forest Hills girls basketball team. And after the No. 5 Tigers pulled off the upset of the Class D South playoffs — beating No. 1 Rangeley 33-29 on Thursday — the Tigers can plan for one more road trip to the Augusta Civic Center.

“My back might need a chiropractor at the end of this,” Forest Hills head coach Anthony Amero said. “The kids are fine. It’s the (southern) Maine championship (coming up). If you can’t get jacked up for that, it’s not going to happen.”

Forest Hills (12-8) will meet No. 2 Vinalhaven in the regional final Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at the ACC. Rangeley — the defending Class D champion — finished 16-4.

Thursday marked the second game the Tigers have played for Amero, the head coach of the boys basketball team who also served as an assistant under former girls coach Jill Demanski. But Amero took over the girls program after Demanski and her family moved to Texas at the end of the regular season.

The low post play of forward Caitlin Logston and success at the foul line ultimately carried Forest Hills. Logston — a senior forward — used her 5-foot-8 height to her advantage, taking passes down low and making simple turnaround moves for layups. Logston was the Forest Hills offense in the first half, scoring 12 of the Tigers’ opening 19 points. Logston finished with a game-high 17 points.

“We know that they’ll double-team me, so if they double-team me, I can just dish it off to (Patricia Lessard),” Logston said. “They can’t double-team both of us.”

The Tigers took their opportunities at the foul line. Forest Hills made 12 of its 19 free throws (63 percent). Tigers forward Lessard scored all nine of her points from the foul line, including six in the fourth quarter.

“I used to be a horrible free throw shooter,” Lessard joked.

“Patricia and Caitlin, those are huge shots,” Amero added. “To have grown up in our tiny little gym. We have two baskets, not even a regulation court. To get into this arena with that depth perception, that’s not as easy as people think, with the fans screaming and so much on the line, your senior year on top of it. That’s ice water for those two young ladies. I couldn’t be any prouder.”

Alexandra Lessard added five points for Forest Hills.

Rangeley’s struggles came from the offensive side of the floor. The Lakers took shots, and lots of them — 60 according to head coach Heidi Deery — but made 11 total field goals. Rangeley was 0 for 14 from 3-point range. The Lakers did have success at the foul line, making six of eight free throws (75 percent).

“Our game plan was to shoot the ball,” Deery said. “We’re a pretty good shooting team. We have a lot of players that can hit those shots for us, we work on it in practice. I really didn’t see a bad shot, they were all right there.”

Celia Philbrick led Rangeley with 11 points. Sydney Royce scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds.

Rangeley jumped out to an 11-8 lead in the first quarter, but Forest Hills battled back and took a 19-17 lead at halftime after five lead changes in the second quarter. Four more lead changes would follow in the third quarter, but Forest Hills held on to a 25-23 lead going into the fourth and would hold on.

Rangeley put on tremendous defensive pressure thanks to its press in the fourth quarter, forcing eight turnovers from the Tigers. But the aggressive play of the Lakers also led to fouls and free throw opportunities. All nine of Forest Hills’ points in the fourth quarter came from the foul line.

“As you can see down the stretch, they grind it out, we knew it wasn’t going to be pretty,” Amero said. “Kind of like the (quarterfinal game), but they found a way, and they trust their teammates. I think the key for us was, if they made a mistake, we didn’t get down, we didn’t get rattled. We said ‘It’s one mistake, let’s get to the next play.’ It’s been our theme, and I think they did a good job with that today.”

It was the second meeting this season between the two teams. Rangeley had beaten Forest Hills 46-32 back on Dec. 27 in Jackman.

But the Tigers displayed a team that has come a long way from that previous defeat.

“I think we all work together,” Lessard said. “At the beginning of the season, there were some issues, and we got them fixed. Now you can tell that we’re all working together and we don’t get down (if things go wrong).”

The Tigers dropped both regular season games to Vinalhaven — 39-33 on Dec. 9 and then 41-38 a day later.

“They’ll dish it into (Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes),” Logston said. “They’re not afraid to take those outside shots, too. We’ll just need to close out (on defense).”

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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