A ferry boat returns from Vinalhaven in 2009. Credit: Gordon Chibroski / AP

When Thursday’s anticipated snow storm changed the 2023 high school basketball tournament schedule, one island team faced the possibility of playing without fans. But the Maine Ferry Service stepped in to help.

The first ferry from Vinalhaven departs at 7 a.m. But when the Vinalhaven Vikings girl’s high school basketball team was rescheduled to play in the Class D South semifinals beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, that didn’t leave fans enough time to get to Augusta so an extra ferry was added for the day at 6 a.m., said Port Captain Daniel McNichol.

“I can only imagine what a big moment it is for the kids, the student athletes, the community to be a part of it,” McNichols said. “I’m glad we can do it — the whole ferry service feels that way.”

The extra ferry ensured the fans arrived.

Meanwhile, the team stayed overnight in a hotel, just to be safe, Vinalhaven School Athletic Director Daniel Ganoza said. After all, the team and their fans barely made the last ferry — 3:15 p.m. — on Monday after winning the quarterfinals against Pine Tree Academy in overtime.

In that game, senior Maddie Miller scored two foul shots that won her team the game and then they left quickly.

“We had to pack up and go,” Miller said. “We celebrated on the bus and ferry back.”

On Wednesday, the Vinalhaven Vikings girl’s high school basketball team lost the Class D South semifinals 77 to 23 to Valley.

For Daniel Ganoza, Vinalhaven School’s new athletic director, the ferry issue is a unique circumstance that poses some stress — perhaps for the adults more than the students. But it’s made easier by the Maine Ferry Service’s willingness to be flexible and help the Vinalhaven sports teams when it can, Ganoza said.

The Maine Ferry Service also ran an extra, late night boat to get the girls basketball team back after their win at the 2017 state championship.

“The ferry service has always been really good to us — good about holding the boat for us,” said Deja Doughty, the current girls coach and a former member of the team who graduated in 2018.

Doughty and McNichol both remember that moment fondly. McNichol drove the boat in below zero weather battling sea smoke. When they came into the port, the whole town was there with fireworks and a band, he said, and he felt like a member of that celebration, too.

“We’re trying to always be good neighbors and we try to always serve them the best we can,” he added.