Brooke Egan of Rangeley shoots over Deja Doughty of Vinalhaven during the fourth quarter in Augusta on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
AUGUSTA — A rare charge call against Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes lit a fire in the Vinalhaven senior.
That was the spark the Vikings needed to repeat as Class D South girls’ basketball regional champions, which they did with a 59-49 victory over Rangeley in the regional final at Augusta Civic Center on Saturday.
The top-seeded and undefeated Vikings (21-0) were holding onto a 43-42 lead with less than six minutes to play in the game when Davis-Oakes drove the lane, only to be called for an offensive foul. The second-seeded Lakers (18-3) went the other way and took the lead on a Winnie LaRochelle jumper, but Davis-Oakes made amends by putting back Ashlyn Littlefield’s layup miss to give the Vikings the lead for good.
“I haven’t gotten any offensive (foul) calls called on me this year, but those were legitimate fouls called. I totally, 100 percent agree with the refs,” Davis-Oakes said. “Whenever you get an offensive foul on you, you’re just a little bit mad. So being that little bit mad just gets you a little bit more energetic.”
Davis-Oakes made a turnaround layup on the next possession and the Vikings never looked back.
“Gilley just turned it on. That was phenomenal,” Vinalhaven coach Sandy Nelson said. “For all the times to rebound, that was then.”
The Vikings, defending state champs and the only team to beat Rangeley this season, jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first quarter, but squandered that and trailed 13-11 heading into the second quarter. Davis-Oakes, who finished with a game-high 28 points and was named the Patricia Gallagher Award winner (most outstanding player in tournament) for the second straight year, was held scoreless in the first.
Still, Rangeley coach Heidi Deery called Davis-Oakes “the real deal.”
“Usually it takes a while for us to warm up, and that’s just who we are. We’re a second-half team,” Davis-Oakes said.
“I think our mentality changed (after the first quarter),” Davis-Oakes added. “We got scared a little bit, to be honest. And so when you get scared, just intimidation just helps you that much more, just helps you do better, helps you pick it up.”
The Lakers stretched their lead slightly to 17-11 in the second, but the Vikings stormed back with a 15-2 run to end the quarter for a 26-19 halftime lead.
“They have six seniors. They’re defending state champs for a reason. They’re undefeated,” Deery said. “It was all their’s to win, and all we wanted to do was come here and compete and I think we did that.”
The Vikings quickly got their lead into double digits, and the advantage was still 41-33 heading into the fourth. That’s when the Lakers, led by a couple eighth-graders, clawed back. LaRochelle and Emily Eastlack both scored six points in the fourth, and they combined for 30 in the game (LaRochelle 16, Eastlack 14).
“They’re huge,” Deery said. “They’re exciting to watch, and to coach, and they’re wonderful teammates as well.”
Nelson had seen enough of the two youngsters draining shots from the outside, so she had to make a change.
“I switched our defense because we couldn’t get out on those girls, so I switched the defense and it made a difference,” Nelson said. “The last two, three minutes it made a difference. We could get where we were supposed to be, and we made them force up bad shots.”
Defense is what helped the Vikings get the advantage to more than one possession. With the score 47-44 and 4:20 to play, Deery called a timeout. Deja Doughty stole the ball from the Lakers out of the timeout, then went the other way for a transition layup and a five-point cushion.
“From there it was almost, ‘OK, here we are. This is what we’re used to,'” Nelson said.
The Vikings just had to make their free throws, and they made enough of to keep the Lakers a safe distance behind. Seniors Davis-Oakes, Littlefield and Cheyenne Bickford combined to go 10-of-14 from the line in the fourth.
“I was nervous walking to the line, but then when I was at the line I’m like ‘, ‘OK, yup, you got to stop,'” Davis-Oakes said.
Nelson said her seniors have been playing together since they were in the third grade. Next Saturday they’ll be going for “history,” according to the coach, and will try to close out their high-school careers with a second-consecutive state title and a perfect season.
Meanwhile, the Lakers graduate only senior Natasha Haley (seven points in final game), and will look to be back in the regional final next year, said Deery.
Deja Doughty of Vinalhaven ties up Brooke Egan of Rangeley during the first half in Augusta on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Deja Doughty, left, of Vinalhaven and Amber Morrill of Rangeley compete for the ball during the first half in Augusta on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Time runs out for head coach Heidi Deery and the Rangeley Lakers in Augusta on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes of Vinalhaven hugs her coach Sandy Nelson after receiving the Patricia Gallagher Award for being the most outstanding player in the tournament. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Emily Eastlack of Rangeley brings the ball up the court against Vinalhaven in Augusta on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)