RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL girls basketball player Sydney Underhill-Tilton, here going to the basket in an East-West Conference game against Buckfield, leads the Bobcats against North Yarmoiuth Academy today at 5:30 p.m. in Yarmouth. The Bobcats are a perfect 13-0 behind Underhill-Tilton, who is looking for success come postseason time.

RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL girls basketball player Sydney Underhill-Tilton, here going to the basket in an East-West Conference game against Buckfield, leads the Bobcats against North Yarmoiuth Academy today at 5:30 p.m. in Yarmouth. The Bobcats are a perfect 13-0 behind Underhill-Tilton, who is looking for success come postseason time.

RICHMOND

 

 

Last year, Richmond junior Sydney Tilton changed her name. She wanted to pay homage to the other side of her family and recognize something that’s “always been there.”

She now appears on the Bobcats’ roster as Sydney Underhill-Tilton, and with the change has come a huge boost in performance. She’s gone from one of a few different weapons to the unquestioned focal point of the team.

Underhill-Tilton credits a different change for that, though. A mental one.

“Skills are skills, but my biggest focus on any sport is mentally,” she said. “Mental toughness to be able to overcome any situation and be able to fall back on my own confidence if all else fails.”

“In my eyes, she’s improved dramatically,” Richmond coach Mike Ladner said. “A lot of it is, as she’s matured, she’s no longer thinking. She’s just playing. It just comes natural to her. I feel like a light bulb has gone off the last three games and she’s starting to really explode and play well.”

In those three games, she notched 63 points and 38 rebounds, and during the most recent in Monday’s 61- 16 win over Hyde, she was on the bench for almost half the game. On the season, she’s averaging over 15 points and 14 rebounds a game.

Underhill-Tilton, daughter of Jeff and Cheri Tilton, admits that her 5-foot-10 height listing is pushing it, but she lives in the paint. Many of her rebounds are offensive, cleaning up rare misses of her own or extending the possession.

“Honestly, our offense flows through her,” Ladner said. “We like to try and get the ball into her almost every single time. And if she doesn’t have it, kick it out. Our offense is from inside-out.”

It’s the same story on defense. If you want to score points inside against Richmond, you’ll have to find a way around Underhill- Tilton. You might also have to find a way to simply keep the ball. In a 55-15 win over Hebron Academy earlier in the season, she had six steals on top of her 20 points and season-high 23 boards.

Like the “Underhill” half of her name, the dominance has always been there. Now, she’s just playing.

“Not thinking, not second guessing myself and just doing it. What happens, happens and roll with it.”

More than one

As Ladner and her teammates will tell you, Underhill Tilton’s success carries out onto the athletic fields at Richmond High School. On top of being a standout starting catcher, as well as one of the team’s two pitchers alongside Meranda Martin on the softball team, she’s also the starting goalkeeper on Troy Kendrick’s soccer team.

Basketball might be her best sport, but that doesn’t mean it’s her favorite.

“It’s so hard because I

practice softball and basketball equally as much. I devote weekdays and weekends to

softball and then it’s right back at with basketball. I’ve known, down the line, ‘Sydney which one are you going to pick in college, which one are you going to do?’ I’m kind

of thinking about it, but at the same time, I’m going to enjoy the time I have.”

Over the course of the year, Underhill-Tilton doesn’t have much free time — most of it goes to Richmond athletics. She was ready for the basketball season long before the opener on Dec. 9.

“She puts a lot of time and effort into it,” Ladner said. “She’s not one of those girls that just plays basketball during basketball season. She works on her craft year-round, whether it’s AAU or on her own and I commend her for that.”

The work certainly doesn’t go unnoticed. Even as a sophomore last season, Underhill-Tilton started developing leadership traits. Traits that even Ladner can’t teach.

“She’s a role model for some of the younger girls,” Ladner said. “Syd leads by example. “She’s not only vocal, but she leads by example with her work ethic. She’s usually the first one in the gym and the last one to leave. The younger kids see that and I think it’s helping our whole program because the other kids see that and they feed off of that. They want to be like her, so they’re starting to do that as well. It helps me as well. It makes my job that much easier.”

“Trying to fill the role of being the most well-rounded and solid people out there. If something’s going wrong with someone else or a teammate, I can be there for them. I’d like to think that my teammates have confidence in me.”

If the court is any judge, they do. Underhill-Tilton has carried the Bobcats to a perfect 13-0 season in which they’ve outscored opponents, 593-314. She’s at the center of a group of girls that have been playing multiple sports together for years and Richmond’s form may be hitting its peak at the same time as Underhill- Tilton’s.

“Last year, we were still looking at this year like ‘OK, we need to fill these spaces, fill these holes.’ Really, it’s been ‘OK, now let’s come together tighter. Tighter than we possibly could playing all together year-round and seeing each other. The chemistry seems like it’s already there, but it develops even more every day.”

That said, a deep postseason run in Class C isn’t on her mind. Nor are her abundant stats or her athletic future. She’s keeping her goals simple and trying not to think too much.

“Team is to stay as one unit. To continue to rely on all of us and the skills we’ve been taught. Myself, to stay in mentally and play to my strengths and play to what I’m capable of.”

Richmond returns to the court today at North Yarmouth Academy, with tip scheduled for 5:30 p.m.


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