AUGUSTA — It appeared all 1,200 residents of Vinalhaven Island made the trip to the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday to watch their basketball team play in the Class D South girls championship game.

They were rewarded handsomely as the second-seeded Vikings knocked off No. 5 Forest Hills, 61-45, for their first regional title in 34 years.

“It’s huge having everyone on our backs supporting us,” said Vinalhaven junior Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes, who won the Patricia Gallagher award as the tournament’s outstanding player.

Vinalhaven (17-4) will face North regional champ Shead in the Class D state championship game Saturday at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Forest Hills finishes its season at 12-9.

Few expected the Tigers to reach the final this season. They lost coach Jill Demanski at the end of the season when her husband’s employment took them out of state, so boys coach and athletic director Anthony Amero took over and guided them to an upset of top-seeded Rangeley.

“I told the girls after the game ‘it’s about the program’,” Amero said. “Last year they lost in the quarterfinal and we were a higher-seeded team and probably had a more talented roster. This year they came in with a less-talented roster so they did a great job for the girls basketball program.”

The Tigers double-teamed Davis-Oakes in the low post in the first quarter and held her to two points. Her teammates, led by Paige Dennison, took up the slack as they raced to a 14-2 lead.

“We were expecting their double-team,” Davis-Oakes said. “But I have confidence in my teammates.”

Davis-Oakes finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds while Ashlyn Littlefield scored 18 points and Dennison 11. The Vikings led from start to finish but broke the game open with a 14-0 run early in the second half that was predicated on their fastbreak and pushed the lead to 43-16.

“We really wanted to win,” said Littlefield, who slipped free for three fast-break layups during the run.

Forest Hills drew big games from seniors Caitlin Logston and Patricia Lessard (10 points, seven rebounds). Logston, who entered the game 28 points shy of 1,000 for her career, finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds.

“She’s a great player, a great kid,” Amero said. “You just want to see them go as far as they can because they’re such a great group of young ladies.”

The Tigers trailed 46-20 entering the fourth quarter but made things interesting by connecting on six 3-pointers, three of those from Logston.

“I think when we thought it was out of reach it was ‘where do we go to have some fun,’ ” Amero said. “I’ve been on both ends over the years. When you haven’t been in that final before you come out and you’re real nervous those first two minutes and that sealed our fate early.”

Vinalhaven lost in the regional final to eventual state champ Rangeley last year and was determined to erase that memory.

“Vinalhaven loves their basketball,” coach Sandy Nelson said. “I’ve discovered that in the little I’ve been there.”

Nelson taught and coached in Massachusetts for 34 years, winning a state Class B title in 1999. After retirement, she returned to the island where she was born.

“I came back to Vinalhaven and this opportunity arose and I said ‘well maybe I’ll do this,’ and we all just got on the same page.”

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