AUGUSTA — Emily Collins hit big shot after big shot in the fourth quarter, including the tiebreaking jumper in the final minute that lifted Valley over Rangeley 49-47 in a Class D South girls basketball semifinal Thursday morning at Augusta Civic Center.

Collins scored nine of third-seeded Valley’s 15 points in the fourth quarter, and each of her four field goals either pushed her team ahead or tied the game.

“She likes the spotlight, there’s no doubt about it,” Cavaliers coach Paul Belanger said. “She plays for it.”

“If it wasn’t for her, we might have lost,” Valley freshman Brielle Hill said.

Collins, a sophomore, tied the score with a 3-pointer early in the fourth and later made a jumper that put the Cavaliers ahead 43-41. She broke another tie with about two minutes to play. After Rangeley’s Lauren Eastlack hit a pair of free throws to even the score yet again, at 47-47, Collins hit the game-winning mid-range jumper.

“I had no plan at all. I looked at the time and I was just like, I got to shoot it,” Collins said. “I’ve had these thoughts in my head, like, what would happen if I got that shot versus Rangeley, what would happen if that shot (wins) it? I absolutely just loved it. It was just amazing.”

Collins finished with 11 points, all in the final quarter-and-a-half.

“In the first half, I don’t know what happened, nothing was rolling for me,” Collins said. “And then the second half I was just like, I got to change my mentality, I just got to stop thinking and just shoot. And once I just started shooting and stopped thinking about, I just absolutely played my game like I know how to play it.”

Valley (10-10) will face top-seeded Greenville (18-2) in the regional final at 1 p.m. Saturday, also at Augusta Civic Center. The Lakers rolled past No. 4 Seacoast Christian 52-33 in the other semifinal Thursday.

“This is the first one in a long time. We’re so excited,” Collins said of playing in the regional final. “The girls at this school have never played for a gold ball, and just to know that we’re one step closer is an amazing feeling.”

Second-seeded Rangeley finishes 17-3.

The Cavaliers started strong, controlling most of the opening quarter and holding an 8-1 lead with two minutes remaining.

Hill came off the bench and was an offensive catalyst throughout the game, playing a big role in breaking Rangeley’s press and finishing with a team-high 13 points.

“I shot quite a bit and I made most of them, and there was a bunch of wide-open lanes for me to drive,” Hill said.

“She played great. She got us going early,” Belanger added.

Winnie LaRochelle made Rangeley’s first field goal with 1:20 left and then added a free throw for a three-point play that cut Valley’s lead to 8-5.

LaRochelle, a sophomore, took over the rest of the half, scoring 14 of her game-high 20 points before halftime. She scored eight consecutive points in the second quarter that turned a 12-7 deficit into a 15-12 lead.

“Winnie has really stepped up (late in the season), and she did that today,” Rangeley coach Brittany DiPompo said.

Ellah Smith added a 3-pointer to cap an 11-0 run and push the lead to 18-12. Valley scored six straight points to tie the score at 20-20 before LaRochelle made a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left to send the Lakers into halftime with a 22-20 lead.

The Cavaliers altered their defense in an attempt to slow LaRochelle. That included putting taller players, such as 5-foot-11 Logan McDonald, at the top of the key in an effort to prevent LaRochelle from shooting free throw-line jumpers.

Smith (nine points) and Lauren and Emily Eastlack took on more of the scoring load for the Lakers in the second half. Emily Eastlack, who scored 10 second-half points, and senior captain Lauren Eastlack scored all 10 of Rangeley’s points in the fourth quarter.

“Both Eastlack girls have always just figured out their role and they’ll do whatever the team needs. They realized that (the Cavaliers) were taking away Winnie … so both those girls realized they needed to get to the hoop,” DiPompo said.

Lauren Eastlack finished with 10 points and Lauren Eastlack scored eight.

The Lakers had a couple chances after Valley took a 49-47 lead, but couldn’t get a shot to fall.

“In the last few minutes, a couple things didn’t go our way,” DiPompo said. “And Valley, they just continued to push the whole game, so props to them for that. We just needed that one more thing to go our way and it might have been a different outcome.”


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