— By

Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — It took the Richmond High boys’ basketball team a half to get moving in the Western Class D final Saturday against Vinalhaven.

But once the Bobcats did, they didn’t stop until their fourth trip to the Class D state championship game in the last five years was safe and secure.

Nick Woods scored 13 points and top-ranked Richmond turned a one-point halftime deficit into a rout, defeating sixth-seeded Vinalhaven 47-32 at the Augusta Civic Center.

”The state game is here this year (and) we’ll be ready,” said Woods. ”It’s a unique feeling that not everyone gets to experience.”

The Bobcats have lost their last three state finals, including 49-43 to Woodland last season at the Bangor Auditorium.

”I have a hard time sleeping at night thinking about them,” said Mike Christie, who scored nine points for Richmond. ”It makes you want it even more if you lose one year and come back the next.”

Richmond will face Schenck (20-1), the top seed in Eastern Class D, in the state final Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center.

Thomas Carter added eight points and seven rebounds for Richmond (19-1), which outscored Vinalhaven 32-16 in the second half after trailing 16-15 at the half.

The Bobcats struggled early against the Vikings’ zone. Shots weren’t falling from the outside, and a sick Bruce Carver couldn’t get going inside. Carver was held scoreless in the first half before finishing with six points and eight rebounds.

Vinalhaven (12-7), which knocked off No. 3 Valley and No. 2 A.R. Gould, took advantage and led by as many as five early.

”We weren’t penetrating early,” Bruce Carver said.

Added Richmond Coach Phil Houdlette: ”We would have liked to have shot the ball better in the first half, quite honestly. And when we struggled a little bit offensively we hurried a little bit. I don’t think we moved much against the zone.”

That all changed in the second half, when the Bobcats softened up the zone with a few outside shots, then attacked it with good penetration that led to inside baskets.

”In the first half we were standing too much, just passing the ball around the perimeter,” Woods said. ”In the second half we came back, started driving to create lanes. We tried to take the ball to the basket. We didn’t settle for the shots.”

After the Vikings went up 20-17 early in the third on an inside basket from Nathan Hopkins (10 points, eight rebounds), the Bobcats closed the quarter on an 11-2 run.

”Going into the fourth quarter we were down by six, (but) we were still well in the game,” Vinalhaven Coach Matt Slivinsky said.

But not for long.

Richmond scored the first seven points to go up 35-22. And by the time Vinalhaven got its first points of the quarter — two free throws by Steven Osgood with 3:56 left — the game was out of reach.

Richmond made 11 of 13 free throws in the final three quarters.

”The boys had one heck of a run and it worked for them right up until the last quarter,” Slivinsky said.

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