AUGUSTA — Jamie Plummer fell through the trap door and set the revolving door in motion.
Richmond’s six-foot junior center picked her first and second fouls in little more than three minutes of Saturday’s Western Class D girls’ basketball championship.
There wasn’t much doubt in any corner of Augusta Civic Center that Rangeley’s best chance to win a title involved taking full advantage.
Build a lead. Get into the defending champion Bobcats’ heads.
Unless full advantage is defined by one stray 3-pointer and a 12-foot jump shot from that fateful second whistle to the horn representing the end of the quarter, the Lakers let that door slam in their face and snag a shoelace for good measure.
Trailing 2-0 when Plummer departed, Rangeley could only pull even at five after a frosty, fumble-filled first period.
Upon her return, Plummer promptly went on a 12-point tear before intermission and propelled Richmond to a 46-33 victory.
“That was our opportunity. You have to take your opportunities. We were given opportunities and we didn’t take them. We gave it back to them,” said Rangeley coach Heidi Deery, whose program has been stymied in the regional final since 2004. “We’re better than that. I’m honest with them. We didn’t come out with an attitude which I thought we would.”
The slender, quick-as-a-guard Plummer, meanwhile, demonstrated a killer instinct.
Her uncontested drive to the hoop snapped the tie and put the Bobcats ahead to stay. Plummer had nine of Richmond’s points during an 11-0 run to christen the second quarter.
“Those two fouls definitely weren’t my plan,” Plummer said. “I was sitting there thinking I need to get back in and completely take over.”
In a semifinal game Plummer’s freshman year, Rangeley successfully pounded the ball inside, lured Plummer into foul trouble and took her out of her game. The Lakers upset the top-seeded Bobcats in 2010.
Not this time. Plummer finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots.
“Two fouls is nothing to a big girl like her. We’ve got fouls on her all the time,” Richmond coach Molly Bishop said. “I don’t think it bothered anybody. Her teammates, they’re willing to step in and help her.”
Danica Hurley and Ciara Lancaster combined to hit three of four free throws during Richmond’s extended cold snap without Plummer.
More importantly, Brianna Snedeker, Lancaster, Hurley and Noell Acord each had a steal in the closing minutes of the first period.
Rangeley went 2-for-6 from the field with 11 turnovers in the quarter.
“What do you call it when the defense does nothing and you throw it away? Is it still a turnover? If I had to do all over again I would have burned all my timeouts,” Deery said. “I don’t like doing that. I like to think I’ll need them because I’m going to be in the game at the end. And I thought it was OK because they’re struggling, we’re struggling.”
Plummer didn’t pick up her third foul until the 1:18 mark of the third quarter.
By then, she had scored five more points to go with Hurley’s six, ratcheting Richmond’s lead to 34-17.
“I just had to make sure I didn’t commit any stupid fouls but still played my game,” Plummer said. “Our intensity on defense was the key, and we rebounded the way we know we can.”