Bob Conn

Bob Conn

RICHMOND

A third straight loss in the State Class D Girls Basketball Championship to Washburn on Saturday at the Bangor Auditorium left the Richmond Bobcats feeling a bit down.

Seniors Jamie Plummer, Payton Johnson, Brianna Snedeker, Noell Acord, Emily Leavitt, Alyssa Pearson and Ciarra Lancaster have felt disappointment during their four-year high school careers at Richmond … but not often!

Think of it this way, many of these aforementioned young ladies play three sports at Richmond — soccer, softball and basketball. Take a guess how many wins the Bobcats have combined during that time. Go ahead!

RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL coach Molly Bishop, center, fires her team up during the State Class D Girls Basketball Championship at the Bangor Auditorium on Saturday.

RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL coach Molly Bishop, center, fires her team up during the State Class D Girls Basketball Championship at the Bangor Auditorium on Saturday.

With softball season still to come, the Bobcats have 182 total wins. That is more than 16 victories per sports season, with a mere 18 losses (and a soccer tie) the only blemishes. If Richmond can run the table again in softball, the Bobcats may finish with 200 victories in four years. Wow!

“They’re seven of the best kids that I have ever coached and seven of the hardest kids that I have ever coached,” said Richmond girls basketball coach and athletic director Molly Bishop, who has led the Bobcats to a 73-11 mark during the past four years on the hardwood, including three Western Maine Class D titles. “They set the bar higher for me than any other kids that I have coached. They love each other and are just one big family. They took the younger kids under their wings, caring about the future beyond this year.”

In soccer, Troy Kendrick’s squads are the three-time defending Class D state champions, with a record of 60-3-1, the only real disappointment coming when these seniors were freshmen after a 1-0 double overtime loss to Greenville in the Western D finals.

And, ageless headman Rick Coughlin’s softball charges have been no slouches, appearing in three straight Class D title games (including the 2010 title with a 14-12 victory over Deer-Isle Stonington) and posting a record of 49-4. Richmond will look to win a second state title after falling to Penobscot Valley, 4- 2, in last season’s State Class D title game.

Saturday’s loss

For the past three seasons, Washburn has been THE team in Class D girls basketball. No doubt about that after the Beavers capped off a perfect 22-0 season by shifting into other gears several times when Richmond made runs.

Richmond has been the bridesmaid, the best team in Western D.

Figure this, even after an early-season East-West Conference loss to rival Rangeley and a pair of setbacks to Class C Old Orchard Beach, Bishop’s team put it all together with two solid victories over the Lakers, including a 48-36 victory in the Western D final on Feb. 23.

Were there sad faces when the Bobcats headed back to their locker room after receiving the runner-up plaque again and had to watch Washburn celebrate with the Gold Ball one more time? Absolutely!

But, the cheers that rang down from the Richmond side of the soon-to-be demolished Bangor Auditorium was one of thanks, with the memories of these great Bobcat teams living on well beyond this season and seasons past.

“This group of girls on the floor today are the best group of girls,” said Plummer, who will be close by in the fall as a member of the Bates College women’s basketball team. “We have been so lucky to play together and it is something I will always remember. There is nothing to be discouraged about, knowing that we made a mark on our town and made a name for ourselves.”

Plummer was an absolute bull on Saturday. Despite constant pressure from the Washburn defense, the 6-footer scored 20 points, 15 in the second half when the Bobcats reduced 15- and 19-point leads down to eight and 10, respectively.

“I can remember playing here when I was a sophomore,” said the senior Plummer, who will man first base or pitch when softball begins in a couple weeks, with first practices beginning on March 18. “The feeling was great to play here. It was so loud and a great atmosphere.”

“Jamie is such a gifted basketball player, and is a role model to her young teammates,” said Bishop, who substituted Plummer from the game late in the fourth quarter with younger sister Julie, a freshman. “Jamie’s words to her teammates were to take this as a great experience. She really cares about the community of Richmond.”

Snedeker was the last to emerge from her team’s locker room, taking it all in. She hugged each of her teammates, holding on to the memories of these four years.

“It is hard to be upset when you played with these girls and had the success that we did,” said Snedeker, who was forced to watch a majority of the game alongside Johnson after the duo picked up three fouls in the first quarter while trying to slow down the Washburn attack. “What I take away from today is that I played with the best 12 girls in the state. We have been so successful.”

And, the other memories …

“At a team dinner (Friday), we had team pictures from our early years of basketball, and have just been best friends. We love each other,” added Plummer. “Those are the memories I take from this. We will always remember these years.”

BOB CONN is the Times Record assistant sports editor. He can be reached at www.timesrecord.com