AUGUSTA — Hyde’s plan to stop Richmond’s Jamie Plummer worked even better than Coach Richard Polgar thought it would. But the Phoenix had no answer for Plummer’s teammates.
Alyssa Pearson and Ciarra Lancaster took up the scoring slack, and the Bobcats played strong defense on their way to a 43-36 victory Thursday in a Western Class D girls’ basketball semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center.
The second-seeded Bobcats (16-3) will play for their third straight regional championship at 1:05 p.m. Saturday against top-ranked Rangeley (19-1).
Third-seeded Hyde (17-2) opened in a diamond-and-one defense with Katie Comeau shadowing Plummer. The strategy worked; Plummer scored a career-low four points, just two days after scoring 35 in a quarterfinal victory against Greenville.
“My goal was to hold her under 15 points,” Polgar said. “We wanted to force the (rest of) the team to beat us. Katie Comeau is the perfect person to play a diamond-and-one. She’s gritty, she’s tough, she’s athletic.”
Plummer contributed in other ways, grabbing 12 rebounds, blocking five shots and distributing to teammates. And they responded. Pearson finished with 11 points, all in the second half, and grabbed eight rebounds. Lancaster scored nine points.
“In practice we worked a lot with Jamie getting double-teamed, so me and Ciarra would have to step up,” Pearson said. “We did a lot of screening for each other and a lot of posting up. If the first person doesn’t work, the second is there.”
Hyde led 11-7 at the end of the first quarter but had trouble moving the ball against Richmond’s full-court press and committed 19 turnovers in the first half.
“I can tell you the kids were fired up,” Richmond Coach Molly Bishop said. “It’s not very often that we have a quiet bus ride on the way up here. They were focused and ready to go.”
Poor shooting was Richmond’s biggest problem; the Bobcats were 6 of 34 in the first half. Payton Johnson and Bri Snedeker made 3-pointers in the second quarter but Hyde pulled into a 16-16 tie on a three-point play by freshman Diamond Brown (nine points, 10 rebounds).
“The girls needed to kind of settle down,” Bishop said. “And the other girls (besides Plummer) needed to step in.”
Pearson and Lancaster combined for eight points inside in the third quarter, and Kelsea Anair converted a three-point play to give Richmond a 31-18 lead. The Phoenix closed the gap to 32-26 by the end of the quarter, but Pearson opened the fourth with three straight baskets, and the Bobcats made their late free throws.
Plummer also took over on defense, grabbing five rebounds in the fourth quarter and blocking four shots.
“I have other aspects I can bring to the game other than just scoring,” she said.