The Valley girls basketball team celebrates after it defeated Vinalhaven in a Class D semifinal Wednesday morning at the Augusta Civic Center. Bill Stewart/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Hard to believe, but Wednesday’s game wasn’t the first time this season Valley and Vinalhaven had tipped off at 8:30 a.m.

“You’ve got to catch the ferry at 1 p.m. to get off the island,” Valley coach Gordon Hartwell said. “You ride ferries, you ride miles … there’s a price to be paid.”

No matter the time, the top-seeded Cavaliers were wide awake in an easy 77-23 win over No. 5 Vinalhaven in a Class D South girls basketball semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center. Madeline Hill scored 22 points for Valley, while Brielle Hill added 18 and Kristen Bigelow 15.

Valley will face the winner of the other semifinal between No. 2 Forest Hills and No. 3 Seacoast Christian for the regional title Saturday morning back at Augusta. Another bleary-eyed special is on tap; game time is 9 a.m.

Thanks to some rescheduling by the Maine Principals’ Association in anticipation of Thursday’s snowy forecast, a whopping eight games were on Wednesday’s Civic Center slate, and Valley and Vinalhaven received the honor of opening the festivities.

“I had to wake up a 4:45 (Wednesday) morning because our bus left at 6,” said Brielle Hill, a 5-foot-6 senior. “We got over here at 7:30 and then we just talked in the locker room. I get up two hours later for school.”


Upper Kennebec Valley High School is in Bingham is nearly 60 miles and about 1 hour, 10 minutes from the Civic Center.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge when you get to the high school at 5:30 in the morning. That was tougher. Now that it’s over, it’s great,” Hartwell said with a laugh.

Wednesday morning’s atmosphere was a little unusual. Many fans came armed with tall cups of coffee, and the shouts of coaches and fans — “Don’t give up the shot!” “Where’s the foul?” could be heard throughout the building as fans slowly filed in during the game.

The game played like an 8:30 a.m. one early on, with several whistles called for double dribbles and jump balls. Valley soon settled down and scored 19 straight points after Vinalhaven’s Maddie Miller gave her team a quick 2-0 lead in the game’s first minute. After one quarter,  Valley led 21-4 and at halftime it was 37-7, with 19 of those points coming from Madeline Hill.

As was the case in Saturday’s 68-19 quarterfinal win over Islesboro, Valley converted steals and rebounds into points via long touchdown passes downcourt. The Cavaliers’ three-headed backcourt of Brielle Hill, Madeline Hill and Bigelow did much of the dirty work in the lane.

“We rebound, kick it out and move as much as we can, and try to play defense on the other end,” Hartwell said. “We missed some shots here and there and we had some turnovers, but if you’re going to try to run all the time, you’re going to have some turnovers. We had a few more than I thought we would this time, but overall, good game. We did what we wanted to do, which is survive and advance.”

Maddie Miller scored seven points for Vinalhaven, which suited up only eight players. The Vikings defeated Pine Tree Academy 48-46 in Monday’s quarterfinal.

Valley swept Vinalhaven in the regular season by scores of 82-28 and 73-9.

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