AUGUSTA — Even though his team trailed by 20 points late in the first half and by 15 at halftime of its Class C South quarterfinal Monday, Richmond boys’ basketball coach Phil Houdlette wasn’t disappointed in his team.

“I think (Waynflete) missed, like, (only) two 3s,” Houdlette said. “I couldn’t have been prouder of (my players) in the first half. I thought we played fairly decent defense.”

He wasn’t panicking, either.

“I said to them, if we can get it to 10 by the third quarter or somewhere close, then we would (have a shot),” Houdlette said.

As it turned out, No. 2 Richmond narrowed the gap to three points before falling to defending regional champion Waynflete, 57-52.

Asker Hussein and Jack Meahl scored 15 points apiece for Waynflete (15-5), the No. 7 seed. The Flyers will face third-seeded Madison in the semifinals Thursday night.

Richmond had no answer in the first half for the faster, taller and quicker Flyers, who finished in traffic and knocked down seven 3-pointers while shooting 63 percent from the field. Waynflete led 40-25 at halftime.

“I don’t think we played one possession of zone defense,” Houdlette said. “The rest of it was man. They made some tough shots.”

Houdlette stressed to his players that they just needed a few stops here and there, a few chances to break the Waynflete roll and give themselves an opportunity to inch back. And the Bobcats listened.

“We’ve been playing together since we were about 5 years old,” said Zach Small who paced Richmond with 18 points. “We just came together and gave it one last shot.”

The Bobcats finished the third quarter on an 8-0 run, with Small hoisting up a 3-pointer before the buzzer that bounced off the rim before falling. That cut the deficit to 50-41. The rally continued in the fourth quarter, with Small and Matt Rines hitting back-to-back 3s to make it 55-52 with 2:57 left.

While the Bobcats hit shots from outside, Matt Holt (16 points) led the effort on the interior, battling 6-foot-5 Yai Deng (13 points, seven rebounds) and working his way to 11 rebounds.

“All of my teammates were telling me I had to shut (him) down,” Holt said. “I know his skill set, and I knew I had to be physical. … I was crashing the boards.”

Four Richmond possessions with a chance to tie went unfulfilled, however, and free throws by Deng and Hussein in the last 24 seconds clinched Waynflete’s victory.

Meahl and Hussein combined for 23 points in the first half. The hole proved too much to overcome, but it didn’t prevent Richmond from staging a rally that felt fitting after a regular season to remember.

“Everyone on the bench didn’t doubt us for a second, everyone in the crowd didn’t doubt us for a second,” Small said. “We all thought we were going to come back.”

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