Neither team took their tournament opponents for granted, but Rangeley and Richmond fully expected to play one another Saturday for the Western Maine Class D girls basketball championship.

They’ve forged a competitive rivalry over the past few seasons and would like nothing better than to beat one another for the regional title. The teams split during the regular season a year ago before Richmond came out on top for its second straight Western Maine title. They split once again this season with Richmond handing top-seeded Rangeley its only loss.

“There’s no other way to say it,” Richmond coach Molly Bishop said. “Of the few losses this team has suffered (the past few seasons) it’s been to Rangeley. These kids don’t like to lose.”

Bishop’s Bobcats lost in overtime at Rangeley, 56-54, in the Lakers’ season opener in which four Richmond starters fouled out. Midway through the season, Richmond defeated the Lakers, 50-38, after the Lakers committed 21 first-half turnovers.

“Basically we really need to focus on limiting our turnovers and our unforced errors, which I thought was a huge part of not being successful at Richmond,” Rangeley coach Heidi Deery said. “We kind of hurried.”

Richmond center Jamie Plummer was a key factor in both games, scoring 29 points in her team’s loss and 25 in the win. In Richmond’s 43-36 semifinal win against Hyde, Plummer was held to a career-low four points after the Phoenix employed a diamond-and-one defense against her. Deery has no such plans today.

“We just want to make sure where she is all the time,” Deery said.

The Lakers have weapons to combat the 6-foot Plummer. They start 6-foot sophomore Taylor Esty, who scored 21 points in Thursday’s semifinal win over Forest Hills, and 6-1 freshman Blayke Morin.

They also bring 6-2 junior Emina Gunic off their bench. The Bobcats counter with size of their own in 5-11 Alyssa Pearson and 5-10 Ciarra Lancaster. The two combined for 20 points in the win against Hyde.

“I think our teams match up well,” Plummer said. “It will be a great game whichever team comes out on top.”

The backcourts will also figure prominently in the outcome as both coaches plan to press. Richmond forced 19 first-half turnovers against Hyde while Rangeley got a combined 29 points from guards Abby Abbott, Seve Deery-DeRaps and Tori Letarte in its semifinal win against Forest Hills.

“We definitely need Abby, Tori and Seve to keep the defense honest,” Deery said.

Added Bishop, “Our goals is to certainly take away looks on the inside for Morin and Esty and keep a hand in the face of their (perimeter) girls.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638
ghawkins@centralmaine.com