AUGUSTA — Jamie Plummer sat on the Richmond bench, saddled with two fouls just three minutes into the Western Maine Class D girls high school basketball final against Rangeley at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday.
How were the Bobcats going to beat their second-seeded rivals without their 6-foot-1 center, especially after playing two close East-West Conference tilts (43- 40 and 43-41, both in Richmond’s favor) during the regular season?
Two things happened during Richmond’s 46-33 victory, sending the Bobcats back to the Class D State Championship for the second consecutive year.
First, Richmond’s defense was stellar, especially in the first half as the Lakers scored just eight points.
Richmond will face Eastern D champ Washburn in a rematch of last year’s Class D title game at the Augusta Civic Center this upcoming Saturday at 1 p.m. Washburn (20-1) rolled past Hodgdon 68-44 on Saturday to give the defending Class D champs an opportunity to repeat, having defeated the Bobcats 43-30 at the Bangor Auditorium last year.
“Defensively, we did what we’ve done all year long and just trusted that we would step it up and get it going at the other end of the court,” said Richmond ( 19- 1) coach Molly Bishop after her team outscored Rangeley 16-3 in the second quarter for a 21-8 halftime lead. “With Jamie, she is always in the mix and she gets fouls, so it didn’t bother us. Her teammates supported her and she came back in, calmed us down and was big.”
Senior point guard Danica Hurley stepped up huge for the Bobcats, scoring 12 points, dishing out four assists and picking up five steals.
“We went into this game knowing that we had to be intense and play the best game we could play to win, and we really did what we needed to do and picked up the intensity,” said Hurley. “It was nerve-racking when Jamie went the bench because she is a big part of our team, but it was important for us to stay calm at that moment and for all of us to stay out of foul trouble.
“We were very confident, very calm and that is why we were successful.”
“We played intense defense, maybe the best we have played all year, and our shots went in when we needed them to,” said Plummer, who added 14 rebounds and five blocked shots to her totals in winning the Patricia Gallagher Award, which honors the outstanding player/ sportsman in the Western D tournament. “I watched Washburn on TV this morning and they said they’re ready to play Richmond. Hopefully we will be up to it.”
According to Rangeley coach Heidi Deery, her team’s efforts fell far short of her expectations.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Richmond — they have a great team and a great coach — but we didn’t play and that is very disappointing,” said Deery, whose team shot just 17 percent (three of 17) from the floor in the first half, 12 of 44 (27 percent) for the game. “In this arena, you have to take your opportunities, and we had our opportunities, but gave it back to them. I think it was just pressure, and we are better than that. We didn’t come and play with an attitude like I thought we would.”
Neither team found a rhythm, with Rangeley turning the ball over 12 times and Richmond making just oneof 15 shots in the first eight minutes. Hurley scored four of her team’s five points, with Rangeley’s Emily Carrier nailing a 3-pointer and Taylor Esty scoring on a putback for a 5-5 tie.
Plummer entered to begin the second quarter and took over. She drove to the basket to put Richmond ahead to stay, and swished a short jumper moments later for a 9-5 Bobcats lead. Plummer added three more points and Hurley made two free throws for a 14-5 Richmond lead.
Deery called a timeout, but Plummer scored again to complete an 11-0 Bobcats run before Esty ended Rangeley’s seven-minute drought, the Lakers’ only bucket of the quarter.
Plummer and Hurley combined on 18 of Richmond’s 21 first half points as the Bobcats shot 25 percent (seven of 28) from the floor, but drained seven free throws on 11 attempts.
“We came into this game knowing we had to play our best game yet to have a good outcome, so we really used that to motivate us,” said Hurley.
“We either made our own error, or actually passed it to them, and you just can’t do that in the Western Maine final,” said Deery after her team committed 19 first- half turnovers.
Rangeley made its best run early in the third quarter with an 8-2 run, with Chantal Carrier scoring four points to get the Lakers to 25-16.
After Bishop called a timeout, Richmond went back to its bread and butter, firing the ball inside to Plummer, or driving to the basket to get back on track. A 7-0 run Bobcats run forced a Deery timeout, with Richmond leading 34-17 after three quarters as Hurley and Plummer combined on 11 more points.
“We knew we would hit peaks and valleys in this game, and we just wanted to make sure we didn’t let the valleys take us down,” said Bishop.
Richmond’s lead grew to a gamehigh 19 points, 42-23, on a pair of Payton Johnson free throws with 2: 49 remaining as the Bobcat fans stood and cheered their team on as the clock wound down.
Pearson added six points for Richmond, while Brianna Snedeker and Noell Acord picked up three steals apiece. Both Snedeker and Acord, along with Haley Murphy, Johnson, Hurley and Lindsy Hoopingarner took turns guarding Rangeley leading scorer Emily Carrier, holding her to 11 points.
“Even though she didn’t score many points against us in the two meetings, we knew she was a threat,” said Bishop of Emily Carrier.
Richmond shot 33 percent from the floor (15 of 45) and 16 of 32 from the charity stripe.
Esty had seven points, seven rebounds and three steals, and the Lakers were six of 14 at the foul line.
No. 1 Richmond 46, No. 2 Rangeley 33
Western Maine Class D final
At the Augusta Civic Center
Rangeley — 5 3 9 16 — 33
Richmond — 5 16 13 12 — 46
Rangeley — Taylor Esty 3-1-7, Emily Carrier 4-0-11, Chantal Carrier 2-0-4, Seve Deraps 0-2-2, Tori Letarte 1-2-4, Jenney Abbott 2-1-5, Blayke Morin 0-0-0, Rachael Weaver 0-0-0, Maddison Egan 0-0-0, Valerie Roy-Lessard 0-0-0.
Totals — 12-6-33.
Richmond — Jamie Plummer 8-5-21, Noell Acord 0-1-1, Alyssa Pearson 3-0-6, Brianna Snedeker 0-2-2, Danica Hurley 4-4-12, Ciarra Lancaster 0-2-2, Lindsy Hoopingarner 0-0-0, Haley Murphy 0-0-0, Payton Johnson 0-0-0, Michaela Lewia 0-0-0, Morgan Harrington 0-0-0.
Totals — 15-16-46.
3-pointers — (Rang) E. Carrier 3.
Records — Richmond 19-1, Rangeley 18-3.
Next for the Bobcats — Richmond takes on Eastern D champ Washburn (20-1) on Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center for the Class D State title. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m.