When the Vinalhaven and Valley boys basketball players walked onto the Augusta Civic Center floor early Saturday morning to start the long day of high school tournament hoops, everyone in the building knew one things for certain, the upcoming battle between the Vikings and Cavaliers would be competitive and the outcome probably would come down to a few key plays at the end.

That scenario played out as the islanders recorded their second victory in three games against the Cavaliers this winter with a hard-fought 50-46 win in a Western Class D quarterfinal playoff game decided in the final minutes.

With the win, No. 6 Vinalhaven (11-6) moves onto the regional semifinals, where it will square off against No. 2 Arthur R. Gould of South Portland (12-0), which defeated No. 7 Greenville (7-10) 72-59 in another quarterfinal playoff game Saturday in Augusta. The semifinal game between Vinalhaven and A.R. Gould will be Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. in Augusta.

No. 3 Valley of Bingham finishes the campaign 11-7. During the regular season, the Vikings and Cavaliers split two competitive games, with the islanders winning 49-38 Dec. 29 and losing 48-45 Jan. 30.

Vinalhaven, which will make its second straight trip to the regional semifinals, did not play A.R. Gould during the regular season, but split two games with Greenville, losing 76-62 Jan. 22 and winning 62-58 Jan. 23.

“We know what we are in for anytime we play Valley,” said fourth-year Viking coach Matt Slivinsky, who has led the islanders to the semifinals the last two years after Vinalhaven experienced a lengthy playoff drought.

On Saturday, the Vikings came through with a bundle of clutch performances and plays during the 32-minute game and also had to contend with Valley’s tough 6-foot-7-inch Chris Beane in the middle. Luckily, the islanders had 6-foot-4-inch Nathan Hopkins on their side.

“I have had games against [Beane] for two or three years and I’m getting use to it now,” Hopkins said of playing against his taller opponent. “He is still working on his offense so that helps a little bit.”

Hopkins had another solid all-around effort and came up with a block and foul shot down the stretch that sealed the victory.

Hopkins said this year’s Vikings are relatively young, with only four seniors.

However, it was the perimeter shooting of Brian Stanley, who admits he has not yet come into his own as a consistent scorer, earlier in the game and the play of Steven Osgood in the final few minutes that might have turned Saturday’s game in the Vikings’ favor.

“It felt great to know that I could help my team out like that,” Stanley said. “They got me open and I made the shots. I think this was my biggest game because the shots were so important. I haven’t really scored much other than this game. It just felt comfortable. Coach told me to shoot with rhythm and if I was open shoot it. So I did.”

Stanley scored 13 points in a regular-season game earlier this year.

On Saturday, the Vikings trailed 8-0 early and 14-10 after one quarter and 24-20 at halftime before grabbing a 36-35 edge after three stanzas.

Keying the islanders’ offense were Hopkins with 15 points; Stanley, 11; Osgood, 10; Tyler Chilles, five; Dana Tolman, four; Bobby Beckman, three; and John Morton, two. The Vikings made 8-of-18 free throws (44 percent).

For the Cavaliers, Cam Miller tossed in 17 points; Beane, 11; Nathan Schultz, five; Josh West and Carrington Miller, both four; Seth Stevens, three; and Caleb Wade, two. Valley made 2-of-4 free throws (50 percent).

Hopkins was consistent throughout the game, but came to life when the Vikings needed it most with 10 second-half points. “When we can get Nathan involved it makes it so much easier,” Slivinsky said. “If we can get a few touches for the big man he has a lot of nice moves and a nice touch and he does a good job down low.”

Stanley netted all his points in the middle two quarters, including hitting two key 3-pointers in the third stanza. Osgood tallied all his points in the final three quarters, including six important points in the fourth quarter.

“Brian Stanley was big for us today,” coach Slivinsky said. “That is what we really needed today was for someone from the outside to hit two or three good shots so we could open up the middle for Nathan [Hopkins]. Nathan did a good job of getting himself to the basket in the second half and scoring some points. We hit some free throws down the stretch and eliminated the turnovers for the most part in the second half. And that was the key to it.”

The coach said his team “didn’t self-destruct. We blew three games this year by self-destructing. So I think they did a really good job of not doing that today and they did a really good job on defense. That is the key to our team.”

Vinalhaven got off to a slow start, falling behind 8-0 before Beckham scored with 5:22 left to give the islanders their first points. After trailing early, the Vikings fought back, as Stanley and Morton hit shots to tie the game 18-18 with 4:44 remaining in the second stanza. A tip-in at the buzzer by Cam Miller gave Valley a four-point halftime cushion.

Eight points from Stanley, including two 3-pointers, and a nice pass from Hopkins to Osgood for a hoop gave the Vikings a 34-28 lead and culminated a 14-4 burst by the islanders to start the third stanza.

Vinalhaven maintained its edge in the early stages of the fourth thanks to Hopkins and Osgood. In fact, the Vikings led 44-39 and called a timeout with two minutes left. However, Valley would not quit, as Cam Miller made a steal and layup with 1:46 left to make it 44-41. But Osgood came through in the clutch with two free throws and a lane basket to give Vinalhaven a 48-41 lead.

Valley then scored five straight points, including a 3-pointer from Stevens with 43.2 seconds left to cut Vinalhaven’s cushion to 48-46. Then Beckman sank 1-of-2 free throws, Hopkins blocked a shot and then Hopkins came down the other end of the court to sink 1-of-2 foul shots with 9.2 seconds left for the final four-point margin.

“I didn’t want them to get within one point,” Hopkins said of why his block late in the gme was so important. “We had a three-point and if we lost that it would have been a lot tougher to hold on.”

Coach Slivinsky said playing tournament games in Augusta means a lot to the young Viking players and the team’s fans. “It is really nice to get these kids back up here and get the program going again and have the town behind us too. The [Viking] girls have been consistently good, but the boys haven’t really been that good over the past 10 years. We have tried to get it back so we are competitive with everybody.”

And the coach hopes that is the case again Wednesday against an undefeated opponent in the regional semifinals.

Click for more photos from the Vinalhaven and Valley playoff game.

VillageSoup Regional Editor/Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at kwaltz@villagesoup.com.