AUGUSTA — The Vinalhaven girls basketball team acted as if it owned the Augusta Civic Center during Tuesday morning’s Class D South quarterfinal against Valley. And with good reason.

It was a year ago the Vikings became believers on the ACC floor en route their first-ever state championship. The entire team from a year ago returns intact, including the same starting five.

“We’re the same team we were last year but better,” senior center Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes said. “We’re confident in ourselves. You can see that. The team is a lot more confident to shoot and the points are more varied.”

The top-seeded Vikings wasted little time in disposing of the No. 8 Cavaliers, who graduated all five starters from a year ago. They jumped to a 25-0 lead and coasted to a 62-26 victory. Vinalhaven (19-0) will meet No. Greenville at the Civic Center on Thursday while Valley closes its season at 8-11.

All five starters scored for the Vikings in the first quarter and the final scoring reflected that balance. Ashlyn Littlefield finished with 15 points, Davis-Oakes scored 13, Paige Dennison 12, Deja Doughty eight and Cheyenne Bickford six. The taller and more experienced Vikings pounded the backboards, out-rebounding the Cavs 13-5 in the first quarter alone.

“Today they definitely improved on the boards,” Vinalhaven coach Sandy Nelson said. “I don’t know if it’s because Valley is a maybe a little bit smaller than us. That’s been kind of a weakness that I’m concerned about.”

Valley coach Paul Belanger chose to double team Davis-Oakes, who operates in the low post. The Cavs were able to limit her scoring opportunities but the strategy opened chances for her teammates.

“You pick your poison I guess,” Belanger said. “We weren’t going to let the Oakes girl beat us. But the Littlefield girl went off early.

Littlefield scored 11 of her points in the first half, including a long 3-pointer off the glass at the buzzer to give the Vikings a 39-7 lead.

The Cavs picked up the pace in the third quarter against the Vikings starters and were only outscored 11-9.

“They had a deer-in-the-headlights look when they came out,” Belanger said of his team. “You get that far back you can never recover. They were statues. Once we settled down they played fine.”

Junior Kendra Sweet finished with 11 points and seven rebounds for the Cavs while junior Kennedy Savoy played a strong all-around game and scored.

The Vikings were seeded second a year ago and surprised many with their march to the state title. This year more is expected.

“When you’re that No. 1 it’s different,” Nelson said. “That’s what I keep telling them ‘you’ve got to be prepared.’ You’ve got to be prepared mentally for this.”

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