AUGUSTA — Vinalhaven expected to be pressed by Temple Academy during a Class D South girls basketball semifinal Thursday and prepared well.

“All practice (Wednesday) we just practiced breaking the press,” Vinalhaven junior Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes said. “We knew we were going to get pressed and we were hammered on breaking (it).”

The Vikings were particularly effective during a two-minute span late in the third period when they ran off 11 straight points, eight on fast-break layups, to break the game open. They went on to post a 66-49 victory to earn a trip to the regional final for a second straight year.

The second-seeded Vikings (16-4) will take on No. 5 Forest Hills, which upset top-seeded Rangeley in the other Class D semifinal Thursday.

Vinalhaven and Forest Hills will play at 1 p.m., Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. No. 3 Temple finished 14-6.

The game started with a battle between each team’s scoring stars, Davis-Oakes and Temple senior Kiara Carr. Davis-Oakes, who finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, scored nine in the first quarter, while Carr (17 points) scored 10 points in the first nine minutes, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Eventually, Vinalhaven’s overall speed and depth wore the Bereans down, but not until the third-period run that began with the teams tied at 32.

“I thought we played good,” Temple coach Mike Gorman said. “I think the key was they got down the floor faster than we did. I had to take (the press) off. Too many layups.”

Guards Deja Doughty and Paige Dennison pushed the ball up the floor and the recipients were Davis-Oakes, Cheyenne Bickford (12) and Ashlyn Littlefield (15). Bickford scored 10 points in the third quarter, eight of those on fast-break layups, as the Vikings took a 46-37 lead.

“The funny thing is all season long the third quarter has been our worst quarter,” Vinalhaven coach Sandy Nelson said. “It’s been flat, flat, flat. Nelson also switched from a 3-2 zone to man-to-man defense in the second half to limit Temple’s three-point shooters.

“We don’t usually play man-to-man,” Davis-Oakes said, “but I think it was a really good idea on our coach’s part because it kept our tempo up, it kept our intensity up and it really kept us going.”

Littlefield guarded Carr in the second half and held her to four points. Temple junior Selam Heinrich scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half, but it wasn’t nearly enough offset the Vikings’ speed and depth. Temple senior Veronica Rossignol was also saddled with foul trouble and finished with just five points.

“She’s our leader so that hurt,” Gorman said.

The Vikings lost to eventual state champion Rangeley in last year’s final and were expecting a rematch, but they’re confident no matter who the opponent.

“We all grew up together, all of us juniors who are in the same class,” Davis-Oakes said. “We live together, we eat together, we practice together. We’re out for blood. We don’t have a Gold Ball in our trophy case yet and it would really bring a lot of home pride to our community.”

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