The Rangeley girls’ basketball team scored only once in the first 16 minutes of its season-opening 43-18 loss to Richmond on Friday.

It took 5 minutes, 25 seconds for the Lakers to score their first bucket of the season, a jumper by Celia Philbrick. Their next points didn’t come until Sydney Royce hit a jumper 25 seconds into the second half, a scoring drought of 11 game minutes. By then, Richmond’s lead was 21-4, and the game was already out of reach.

As they try to replace Blayke Morin and Maddison Egan from last year’s state championship team, the new-look Lakers are still getting used to their new look.

“We have people that have taken on new responsibilities this year,” Rangeley coach Heidi Deery said.

“They’re struggling to find the role the they need to play, not because we haven’t talked about it, and not because they don’t know, but we’re struggling. I hope in the next three games we can get over that hump.”

The Lakers struggled even get shots off, and turned the ball over 21 times in the first half (27 in the game). Part of that — possibly a majority of it — can be attributed to the Bobcats’ defense.

“More turnovers, more chances for us to score,” Richmond coach Mike Ladner said. “We preach amazing helpside man-to-man defense, and we do a lot of communicating.”

“Half of our practice every practice is defense, honestly, and it shows.”

Natasha Haley led Rangeley with eight points, Philbrick finished with six and Sydney Royce scored four. Those three were starters on last season’s Class D state championship team, but Deery said they are still adjusting to their increased rolls.

“Tasha and Syd and Celia, who need to be our scorers, were not looking to score,” Deery said.

Deery was mostly satisfied with the Lakers’ defense. Despite their inability to score in the first half, they remained in the game until the Richmond’s MacKenzie Abbott scored five quick points in the final minute of the half, turning a 16-2 advantage into 21-2.

Abbott finished with 12 points, while post Sydney Underhill-Tilton led all scorers with 14 points.

“I wasn’t extremely happy with our defense, but I wasn’t upset with them either,” Deery said. “You know, we controlled Tilton. We gave her way too many putbacks — that’s the only thing that I’m upset with defensively is we allowed them two and three shots; that’s something we’re going to have to change.”

Rangeley next plays at Greater Portland Christian next Saturday, Dec. 17, at 11 a.m. Richmond, meanwhile, hosts Old Orchard Beach on Tuesday.

“Richmond’s a good team,” Deery said. “They’re a Class C team, and fortunately, we’re Class D, we don’t have to worry about them in the tournament; but it’s great competition, and I certainly hope that by the time we play them in Rangeley in January, it’s going to be a different story.”


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