AUGUSTA — Hyde’s plan to stop Richmond’s Jamie Plummer worked even better than Coach Richard Polgar thought it would. But the Phoenix had no answer for Plummer’s teammates.
Seniors Alyssa Pearson and Ciarra Lancaster took up the scoring slack and all the Bobcats played strong defense on their way to a 43-36 victory Thursday morning at the Augusta Civic Center.
The second-seeded Bobcats (16-3) will play for their third straight Western Maine Class D championship Saturday afternoon at the Civic Center when they face top-seeded Rangeley. No. 3 Hyde finishes at 17-2.
Hyde opened in a diamond-and-one defense with senior Katie Comeau shadowing Plummer. The strategy worked as Plummer scored four points, the lowest of her career, just a couple of days after scoring 35 in a quarterfinal win against Greenville.
“My goal was to hold her under 15 points,” Polgar said. “We wanted the force the (rest of) the team to beat us. Katie Comeau is the perfect person to play a diamond-and-one. She’s gritty, she’s tough, she’s athletic.”
Plummer contributed in other ways, grabbing 12 rebounds, blocking five shots and distributing to her teammates. And they responded. Pearson finished with a team-high 11 points, all in the second half, and grabbed eight rebounds, while Lancaster scored nine points.
“In practice we worked a lot with Jamie getting double-teamed so me and Ciarra would have to step up,” Pearson said. “We did a lot of screening for each other and a lot of posting up. If the first person doesn’t work, the second one is always there.”
Hyde led 11-7 at the end of the first quarter of 3 of 8 shooting from the floor. But the Phoenix had trouble moving the ball against Richmond’s full-court press and committed eight turnovers.
“I can tell you the kids were fired up,” Richmond coach Molly Bishop said. “It’s not very often that we have a quiet bus ride on the way up here. They were focused and ready to go.”
The second period was even rougher for Hyde as it committed 11 turnovers. Richmond’s problem was poor shooting. The Bobcats shot 6 of 34 from the floor in the first half. Payton Johnson and Bri Snedeker made 3s in the second quarter but the Phoenix drew into a 16-all tied on a three-point play from freshman Diamond Brown (nine points, 10 rebounds).
“The girls needed to kind of settle down,” Bishop said. “And the other girls (besides Plummer) needed to step in.”
The Bobcats opened up the game in the third quarter as Pearson and Lancaster combined for eight points inside and Kelsea Anair converted a three-point play to make it 31-18. The Phoenix closed the gap to 32-26 at the break but Pearson opened the fourth quarter with three straight hoops and the Bobcats made their free throws down the stretch.
Plummer also took over at the defensive end, grabbing five rebounds in the quarter and blocking four shots.
“I have other aspects I can bring to the game other than just scoring,” she said.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638