She gave her club a fiery pep talk and sent them on their way, hoping for improved results after a slow start.

Her halftime talk that followed likely didn’t have glowing reviews either.

Slowly but surely, her Rangeley girls’ basketball team settled in. With an effort in the second half greater than in the first, the Lakers were finally able to put away Richmond, 54-36.

“We don’t have any excuses,” Deery said. “You’ve got to give credit to Richmond. They came ready to play. I knew they would. They’re good athletes. They hustle. Molly(Bishop) is a good coach. So we knew it was going to happen, but we don’t want to let things like that happen. If you don’t come out of it, and it’s a tournament situation, we could be going home. Hopefully, we’re going to learn from it.”

The Lakers (10-0) were up by six in the first quarter and led by as many as 12 in the second, but the Bobcats (4-7) lingered and were within three by halftime and down by only one early in the third.

“We didn’t come ready to play but after halftime, we came together,” said Blayke Morin, a sophomore forward.

The Lakers were coming off a pair of wins at Vinalhaven over the weekend and have a significant showdown Friday against unbeaten and top-seeded Forest Hills. Though Richmond has been one of Rangeley’s top rivals in recent seasons, Tuesday’s meeting had all the makings of a trap game for the Lakers.

“I hope not but I think that probably was the case,” Deery said. “We don’t want to look past anybody because on any given night you know what can happen. We know we’ve got to play every game and set our tempo, but we really didn’t do that.”

Morin led the Lakers with 21 points while Taylor Esty added 14. Tori Letarte had nine and Seve Deery-Deraps chipped in eight. Richmond got eight from Morgan Harrington and seven from Kelsea Anair.

The Lakers opened up an 8-2 lead in the first, thanks to Richmond shooting just 1-for-14 with nine turnovers. Esty and Morin had four points each to stake the Lakers to the early lead.

Rangeley, however, struggled with turnovers. After nine in the first, the Lakers had another nine in the second. Though Rangeley opened an 18-6 lead, following the timeout, Richmond battled back to within 20-17 at the half.

“I guess we were too excited,” Morin said. “We’d have an open pass and we’d over-throw it.”

Morin had scored six points in the second while Deery-DeRaps had four to help the Lakers open the lead, but a 3 from Anair and a late basket by Harrington inside kept the Bobcats close.

“We weren’t finishing anything,” Deery said. “It’s like we were out of sync. People were hustling. They were playing hard. They were making right decisions, but it just wasn’t there. You’re going to have nights like that. I try to prepare not to have nights like that, but we are going to have them.”

In the third, a basket by Harrington and a drive by Haley Murphy made it 22-21, but the Bobcats would never be any closer. Morin scored on a three-point play, and Esty hit a free throw and scored a fast-break basket. Richmond only scored one other basket in the quarter as Rangeley ended the third on a 9-2 run, and with a 31-23 lead.

“I was pleased once we got going,” Deery said. “I was confident that we would get going, but I wasn’t happy that it took that long.”

The Lakers could sense it in the fourth, opening the final eight minutes with a 15-2 run. The defensive pressure increased and Rangeley overwhelmed the Bobcats, which battled foul trouble down the stretch. Letarte and Morin each scored six for the Lakers in the fourth while Esty added five in a 23-13 final quarter.

“We definitely had it going toward the end,” Morin said. “The third quarter was huge. We started getting points and started getting steals and we started getting some runs.”

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