AUGUSTA — The Rangeley Lakers finally found a way to the second round of the Class D South boys basketball tournament for the first time in 12 years, but the Vinalhaven Vikings made sure they earned it.

Kenny Thompson tallied a game-high 33 points, 12 rebounds and five steals as the second-seeded Lakers escaped with a 53-46 win against a game seventh-seeded Vikings team that Rangeley had beaten by 40 points twice earlier in the season.

Nolan Boone added 14 points eight rebounds and four steals for Rangeley (16-3), which advances to face No. 3 Greenville in the semifinals at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center. It is Rangeley’s first trip to the regional semis since 2008, when the Lakers lost a semifinal to Richmond in what was then Class D West.

“As long as I’ve been on the team we’ve never made it past the first round,” said Thompson, a 6-foot-3 junior guard, “so it’s still nerve-wracking every time I get here.”

Joe Hopkins led Vinalhaven (7-12) with 20 points and nine rebounds.

The Lakers, playing without senior starter Ian Lillis and senior reserve Hunter Parsons (illness), never led by more than 11 points and were clinging to a 48-41 lead when Boone fouled out with 2:16 remaining.

A pair of Trey Goodrich free throws pulled the Vikings within 48-43, but they never got any closer. Thompson slashed to the hoop for a layup while being fouled and made the free throw with 38.5 seconds left to seal it.

Vinalhaven rode nine first-quarter points from Hopkins to a 13-10 lead as the Lakers struggled (4-for-15 shooting) struggled in their half-court offense.

“For a little while (against) their zone, we were one pass (and) jump shot,” Rangeley coach Jeff LaRochelle said. “Then we started working it around, then we got some easy stuff, we just didn’t convert all the time.”

“We just didn’t take enough time at our offensive end,” Thompson said. “And our defense usually leads to our offense and not everybody was there on defense today. Everybody got a little worn out, too. We really couldn’t move our feet fast enough.”

LaRochelle said he considered pulling back on the reins because he was short-handed, but Rangeley’s full-court pressure seemed to gradually become more problematic for the Vikings as the half unfolded. Fifteen first-half turnovers allowed the Lakers to get out in transition and get the ball in the hands of Thompson, who scored 14 points in the second quarter, including Rangeley’s final nine points of the half that pushed a 23-17 Lakers lead to 30-23 at halftime.

“I just started to warm up a little bit and felt that my shot was feeling a little bit better than it was in the beginning, so I just started to shoot more,” Thompson said.

Although they were able to play their preferred up-tempo style, LaRochelle wasn’t happy with how the Lakers were running.

“I liked that it was our pace,” LaRochelle said. “But then it was pretty much Kenny and Nolan going down (on the break) because the other guys were staying even with the ball, and what we try and do is get out in front so that it stretches that defense (for Thompson and Boone to slash through the openings).”

The Vikings’ turnover woes were worse in the third quarter. Thompson converted one of their 10 turnovers in the period into a layup to help Rangeley widen its lead to 45-34 heading into the fourth.

“It definitely was not clean, by any means,” said LaRochelle, who added that his team knew it still has work to do. “The next game is going to get harder. Those mistakes are under a magnifying glass each round.”


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