Vinalhaven settles score with Greenville, faces top seed nextVikings dominate Lakers in quarterfinals, meet Hyde School in semifinals
Augusta — After two close regular-season road losses against Greenville in games the Vikings felt slipped away, the Vinalhaven boys basketball team had a score to settle with the Lakers and accomplished that in decisive fashion Saturday during the opening round of the playoffs.
The No. 5 Vikings (12-7) dominated No. 4 Greenville (12-7) 63-46 in Saturday's Western Class D quarterfinal playoff game at the Augusta Civic Center.
With the victory, the islanders, who advanced to the regional finals the previous two seasons, will face No. 1 Hyde School of Bath, which improved to 16-1 with a 60-40 quarterfinal playoff win over Buckfield (8-12), in the semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 11:30 a.m. in Augusta.
The Bucks had beaten No. 9 Seacoast Christian (9-10) 76-47 in a prelim playoff game to advance to the tournament in Augusta.
Vinalhaven does not play Hyde during the regular season, but did defeat Buckfield twice — 64-46 and 60-36. Thus, the matchup between Hyde, which has plenty of height and overall talent, against the Vikings, who have experienced recent postseason success and seem to play their best in Augusta, should be a good one.
The Vikings earned a semifinal berth thanks to a quick start and solid all-around effort against Greenville Saturday. Perhaps the islanders had revenge on their minds after dropping two thrilling regular-season games at Greenville — 61-54 and 59-57.
After inspired play by Vinalhaven in the first half Saturday, there was little doubt which team would move on in the tourney. Vinalhaven led 19-12, 38-16 and 50-27 at the quarter breaks.
Keying the islanders were Steven Osgood with 19 points; Trey Warren and Justin Newton, both nine; Dillon Ames, eight; Scott James, seven; Shane Carlsen and Hayden Jones, both three; and Brian Stanley and Byron Thomas, both two. The Vikings made 10-of-17 free throws (59 percent).
James also contributed 15 rebounds and two blocked shots, Stanley five steals and seven assists, Osgood six rebounds and Warren two blocks.
Osgood, who entered the game about 100 points shy of 1,000 for his career, turned in a stellar all-around effort, not only putting the ball in the basket but making a bundle of nifty passes. Vinalhaven also locked down defensively on the Lakers.
For Greenville, Henry Hershey tallied 12 points; Howie Stone and Tristan Richards, both 10; Matt Diangelo, seven; Trevor Richards and Nate Fenn, both three; and Joe Pelletier, one. The Lakers netted 13-of-21 free throws (62 percent).
Osgood said the difference in the regular-season games with Greenville and Saturday's playoff meeting was that Stanley had to sit out with a concussion in the second game earlier this season. "In those two games we didn't get the ball down low and that is all we did today until we got a reasonable lead, which opened up the outside [shooting]," Osgood said, adding, "I think this is the best game we have had. We haven't proven to anyone that we are a good team and I think today definitely was a deal breaker."
Osgood said the Vikings are comfortable in Augusta and often play their best at the civic center. "We know how this place works," he said, adding that Vinalhaven is not intimidated by the court or shooting at hoops with plenty of space behind them.
On Saturday, the Vikings flew out of the gates to grab a 12-3 lead early in the first quarter and, led by six points from Ames and five from Newton, the islanders held a seven-point cushion at the break.
Vinalhaven slowly took control in the second stanza, thanks to Warren's eight points and four each from Osgood and Newton, to give the lower-seeded team a 38-16 halftime cushion. The Vikings outscored Greenville 19-4 in the second quarter and finished the stanza with a nifty Stanley-to-Osgood pass for a layup at the buzzer.
The Vikings continued to sail in the second half and led by 26 points at one point during the final 16 minutes.
"We had a game plan of going inside against them and using our size advantage and we did that," said veteran Viking coach Matt Slivinsky. "Greenville is a tough place to play [and] we hadn't seen them yet [in our regular-season games]." He added that the Vikings played a zone defense in the first game to stop Greenville's inside game, but the Lakers performed well shooting from the perimeter.
The coach said against the Lakers in Augusta "our team played as a team. They played together and everyone contributed. That is the kind of team I always knew they could be. We finally put a whole game together."
Slivinsky said, in recent years, the Vikings have been able to play their best when they get to Augusta because they essentially are road and battle tested during a grueling regular season, that has the team make long ferry boat rides to and from the island and three- and four-hour bus rides to opponents' gymnasiums.
"Our record reflects a very tough schedule," Slivinsky said, adding that traveling to Greenville, Jackman, Rangeley and Bingham are long trips. Plus, the team has to play back-to-back games one night and then the next morning, often after sleeping on the gym floor the night before. All that "takes its toll on the kids … It takes us all season to really gel. We progressively get better."
The coach said Hyde is tall, fast and deep, a tough combination to beat. "They have the whole package," he said. "They are a very tough team to play against no matter what you do. They have a big size advantage on everybody [with two players who are 6-5, three 6-3 and two 6-2]."
Hyde's lone regular-season loss came against Waynflete of Portland. The Phoenix split two games with the Flyers, the second-ranked team in Western Class C.
Village NetMedia Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at email@example.com.