Richmond High School’s Ashely Abbott goes over the top of Winthrop High School’s Jillian Schmelzer during a Mountain Valley Conference game Wednesday in Richmond. (Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal)
RICHMOND — It had the look, on paper, of being a tight early showdown between two Class C South contenders.
It didn’t take long for the Richmond-Winthrop girls’ basketball matchup to go off script.
Sydney Tilton, Bryanne Lancaster and Ashley Abbott led the way for a Bobcats team that overwhelmed and overpowered the Ramblers, eventually coming away with a 48-27 victory in a Mountain Valley Conference game.
“I thought they played great,” said Richmond coach Mike Ladner, whose team improved to 3-1. “They played great defensively. Offensively, I liked the flow. I liked that we tried to push it when the opportunity presented itself.”
Richmond took command with a pair of runs. The Bobcats went on a 16-0 surge between the first and second quarters en route to taking a 25-14 halftime lead, then tore off a 14-0 run in the third quarter that made it 41-17 and ended any Winthrop comeback hopes.
“One of the biggest things we struggle with, or that any team can struggle with in any sport, is staying consistent throughout the whole thing. Starting off with an energy and then upholding that throughout the whole game,” Tilton said. “That’s a work in progress, but if we can have different teammates pick us up and get us on a run and get us going and get in a groove, that comes a lot more easier.”
Winthrop (3-2), riding its own strong start to the season, scored the first four points of the game, six of the first nine and led 8-6 after a Kena Souza putback with just over three minutes to go in the first quarter.
And then the bottom dropped out. The Bobcats scored the next 16 points and 19 of the next 25, getting nine points in that stretch from Tilton as they made a more ardent effort to funnel the ball in to their dominant post player.
“We switched our offense,” Ladner said. “We have four different offenses that we run, so if one isn’t working we try something else. We went through our first two, we struggled a little bit. We went to our third option and it worked, so we stayed with it.”
Winthrop couldn’t generate enough with the ball to stop the bleeding. After going up 8-6, the Ramblers missed 12 straight shots from the field, breaking the skid on a Layne Audet jumper with 1:52 to go in the half.
“They really took away driving, penetrating lanes,” Winthrop coach Joe Burnham said. “They put us into areas where they could trap us, they had very active hands which made poor passes, and poor passes to shooters lead to bad shots.”
The struggles continued during a third quarter, in which Winthrop went 1-for-8 from the field and scored only three points. Richmond, meanwhile, went 7-for-16 from the floor and scored 16, turning the contest into a runaway.
“We realized that in the first half, out of their 14 points, eight of them were on transition baskets,” Ladner said. “So in the second half we didn’t press as much. We sat back in a halfcourt man-to-man defense and forced them to beat us in a halfcourt game, and they struggled.”
“They’re a very good defensive team. They showed a lot of our ugly spots,” Burnham said. “Execution out of a halfcourt offense tonight just wasn’t there for us.”
Richmond, meanwhile, seemed to do what it pleased as the game wore on. There was a little bit of everything; Tilton scored a game-high 17 points, while Abbott scored nine on a trio of 3-pointers, and Tilton and Lancaster (six points) also grabbed 14 rebounds apiece to limit Winthrop’s second-chance opportunities.
“We’re still a very young team, we’re still learning how to play with each other,” Ladner said. “Wins like these are huge.”
Aaliyah WilsonFalcone scored 15 points for Winthrop, while Souza had seven rebounds and Kate Perkins and Audet (five points) had five boards apiece.
“Every game, there’s something you can take from (it),” Burnham said. “We had some good individual efforts out there, but unfortunately, individual efforts don’t always translate into team success.”
He and his team will get a chance to apply any lessons they learned — Winthrop plays Richmond again in the season finale in February.
“We’re definitely going to remember this,” Burnham said. “We’ll make sure we’re more prepared for what we need to do to be more successful against them.”
Richmond High School’s Caitlin Kendrick looks for an opening around Winthrop High School defenders during a Mountain Valley Conference game Wednesday in Richmond. (Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal)
Richmond High School’s Marybeth Sloat passes around Winthrop High School’s Kate Perkins on Wednesday December 20, 2017 in Richmond. (Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal)