AUGUSTA — Two months later, the Vinalhaven and Richmond high school boys basketball teams will meet again.

And this time, the stakes are much higher — the two will play at 2:45 p.m. today in the Western D championship game at the Augusta Civic Center.

Furthermore, the third meeting will also require a little less travel for the Bobcats, who swept the Vikings 45-34 and 40-22 in Vinalhaven on Dec. 18 and 19.

“It’s exhausting,” said Richmond senior Bruce Carver, who scored 16 points in a 45-36 win against Hyde in a regional semifinal game. “You get home Saturday, Sunday night and you’re pooped.”

The Bobcats (18-1) are trying to make their third consecutive trip to the Class D state title game. They’ve come up short for a gold ball in each of the last two seasons but are hoping the third time is indeed a charm.

To get there, Richmond will have to get past Vinalhaven, which is putting together a Cinderella-like run through the regional tournament.

The Vikings (12-6) ousted No. 3 Valley 50-46 and No. 2 Gould 55-45. Now, they have their sights on the top seed.

“We played them pretty well in the regular season,” Vinalhaven coach Matt Slivinsky said. “They have a big guy who can shoot and they have good guard play as well. We know Richmond fairly well.

The “big guy,” of course, is Carver, who at 6-foot-4 is a matchup problem for opposing defenses.

“Richmond is tough,” Slivinsky added. “They don’t beat themselves. We play them every year, and every year they are tough.”

The Bobcats, like the Vikings, needed a fourth-quarter comeback in the semifinals to reach the final. Richmond trailed Hyde by as many as six in the fourth quarter before pulling away late for the victory.

In one of the more intriguing matchups of the regional final, Nathan Hopkins and Carver will battle it out in the paint. Hopkins is also listed at 6-4.

“They are tough,” Carver said. “They play with a lot of passion.”

Added Richmond coach Phil Houdlette: “We can use a lot of people. I don’t think we’re one dimensional. I would like to see us shoot the basketball maybe a little better, maybe a little more often.”

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