AUGUSTA — Sandy Nelson has been preaching the possibility of a big upset to her team for weeks, but nothing convinced her squad more than watching it actually happen Monday.

Her Vinalhaven girls’ basketball team watched No. 8 Maranacook stun No. 1 Boothbay in a Western C boys’ quarterfinal.

“I’ve told the kids before, I’ve coached a lot of years,” Nelson said. “I’ve had teams that went 19-0 and we lost. My teams were the last seed and we won the whole thing. Anything can happen.”

Vinalhaven not only started to believe it,  but Tuesday, the Vikings made it happen. The ninth-ranked Vikings rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to oust top-seeded Pine Tree Academy 45-43 in a Western D quarterfinal at the Augusta Civic Center.

“We told the kids ‘Look, No. 8 can beat No. 1′” said Nelson about Monday’s game. “They looked at us like deer in the headlights. Then, as the game progressed, (Monday), there it was.”

Vinalhaven (10-10) outscored Pine Tree (17-2) 19-3 in the final quarter. Gilley Davis-Oakes led the Vikings with 15 of her game-high 24 in the final quarter. With Pine Tree’s center Kim Emerson nursing foul trouble and eventually fouling out, the Davis-Oakes was unstoppable.

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“With so many people watching you, I was really nervous at first,” said Davis-Oakes, who’s one of a handful of prominent freshmen on the Vikings. “It was my first half playing here as a freshman, then just having that incredible feeling of being the underdogs and being No. 9 against No. 1 and to rise to the top, it was massive.”

Paige Dennison added 13 for the Vikings, who’ll play Richmond in the semifinals Thursday.  Pine Tree got 19 from Alex Goodman, who scored just one point in the final quarter. Allison Verrill added 14. Vinalhaven started the year 0-4 and was 3-10 after 13 games but have won seven of its last 10 games.

“We knew we could beat them,” Davis-Oakes said. “They lost to Richmond by like three points. We lost to Richmond by four. So we definitely knew it was doable.”

The Vikings were down by 14  entering the fourth but 11 straight points changed that. Pine Tree came completely unravelled and struggled to maintain poise down the stretch. The Viking sensed the opportunity, like it did in rallying past Buckfield in the prelims last week.

“Between the third and fourth quarters, we were down by 14 points,” Davis-Oakes said. “We were like ‘This is just like Buckfield. We need to pick it up. This is just like before.’ That really inspired us.”

Davis-Oakes led the charge. She scored nine of those 11 points while Taylor Littlefield hit two free throws and the Vikings were within 40-37. Pine Tree got a basket by Verrill with 3:04 left, but it would be the only field goal for the Breakers in the fourth.

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Davis-Oakes scored in the paint and Dennison hit a jumper that followed a steal to  get the Vikings within 42-41. Davis-Oakes grabbed a defensive rebound after a Goodman miss and was fouled. She hit two free throws with 1:05 left to give the Vikings their first lead since 2-0 to start the game.

Goodman, who the Vikings were making work with some quick guards defending her,  drew a foul and tied it with 1:05 left. Davis-Oakes drew another foul and calmly sank both for the lead with 39 seconds left.

Pine Tree had one last opportunity and had a pair of chances by Verrill but the shots didn’t fall.

The Breakers have won just two quarterfinal games in their history. Vinalhaven lost to Forest Hills in the quarters last year. This is the fourth trip to the semifinals for the Vikings since 1998.

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