It was standing room only in the Vinalhaven School gym on Feb. 11 for most exciting and important game of the girls’ season. After a final basket by senior Kim Walker at the buzzer for a one point win over Greater Portland Christian, the Vinalhaven girls’ high school team made the state tournament quarterfinals for the first time in five years.
The game ended up as a close one, but it didn’t start out that way. At one point Vinalhaven was down 12-2, and at the end of the first quarter Greater Portland Christian was leading 16-8. But Vinalhaven battled back in the second quarter and ended the half in a 26-26 tie. The third and fourth quarters were close, then with two seconds left on the clock and Vinalhaven down 56-54, Vinalhaven junior Jessica Carleton was fouled. Carleton made one basket, but missed her second. Senior Kim Walker was there to grab the rebound and get off a shot at the buzzer to end the game 57-56.
“I watched her get the rebound and hoped she would put it up. It was all in Kim’s hands,” said senior guard Casey Rasmussen. “It was the most exciting game I’ve been in.”
Coach Torry Pratt was proud of her team’s resiliency. “They were down, but kept coming back up. They thought it was out of their reach at times but they kept coming back up. They never lost focus, even after two of our girls fouled out.”
Underscoring the game was the knowledge that this was the last game to be played in the old Vinalhaven gym. Next season the team will have a new home in the new Vinalhaven School. While the new, larger gym will be welcomed, Athletic Director Dennis Pratt admitted that there was some sentimentality for the old gym. “This is a great gym for a home game, because it gets so loud. A lot of former players come back and people bring their kids. The noise factor gives us a great home court advantage and it’s a fun atmosphere for the kids. It will be missed.” The current gym was built in 1965, and survived the fire that destroyed much of the school in 1971.
But for the girls, the fact that it was the last game didn’t really matter to them; they were more concerned with getting to the tournament. As game-winner Kim Walker said, “It didn’t register that it was the last game, until the game was over. I didn’t think about it much. I’m just happy to be going to the Civic Center. I’ve wanted that since my eighth grade year.”