AUGUSTA — Finally healthy and rested, the Valley girls basketball team entered the D South tournament eager to shake off a late swoon that threatened to derail a once-promising season.

They also entered the Augusta Civic Center with a little bit of an edge — losing nine of 12 to finish a season can do that to a team.

“I was angry,” Valley junior forward Jillian Miller said.

“We were all angry,” freshman guard Emily Collins quipped.

The fourth-seeded Cavaliers turned in a needed bounce-back performance Saturday, routing No. 5 Forest Hills 52-29 that extended their season into next week.

Kendra Sweet scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Valley (10-9), which beat Forest Hills (7-12) for a third time this winter.

Miller scored 14 points and Collins added 10 for the Cavs.

“We’ve had a lot of kids out, a lot of sickness,” Valley coach Paul Belanger said. “We started the season real strong and then we took a step back. It was tough, but we went out and got the job done today. We can’t ask for anything more than that.”

Valley will play No. 1 Rangeley (18-1) in a regional semifinal Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at the Civic Center.

Senior captain Alex Lessard scored a team-high 12 points for Forest Hills, with all but four coming in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Taylor Fountaine added 10 points for the Tigers.

“We lack the experience,” Lessard said. “We are very young. We did what we could.”

Added Forest Hills coach Sean Danforth, whose team played without ailing starting point guard Mary Lee Brown: “Offensively, we struggle at times. It just wasn’t our day.”

If Valley didn’t put this one away with a game-opening 9-1 run, it certainly did in an explosive third quarter.

The Cavaliers outscored Forest Hills 19-7 in the third, with Sweet going off for nine. After hitting a pair of pull-up jumpers, Sweet converted a fastbreak layup before knocking down a 3-pointer with just over two minutes left in the quarter.

“We were playing good defense,” she said, “and we were just making our shots.”

Collins, who got in a little foul trouble early, also connected from behind the arc to extend the third quarter surge. When she sank a free throw in the final seconds of the quarter, the Cavs enjoyed their biggest lead of the game, 41-14.

“We were energized,” Belanger said.”

The Tigers struggled early, missing their first seven shots before Aislyn Obert made their first field goal a minute into the second quarter.

By that time Forest Hills was neck-deep in catch-up mode.

“We dug ourselves a hole that we couldn’t climb out of,” Lessard said.

The Tigers did show some life in the final quarter, using a 10-2 run to pull within 43-24, but the hole was too vast, too deep.

“This last week was our best week of the season in practice,” Belanger said. “We came in here ready.”

Added Collins: “We’re excited. I feel like we have a good chance to keep it going.”


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