A point of emphasis for Diane Trams when she took over as head coach of the Washburn girls basketball team this season was not to tamper with success. The Beavers have won two straight Class D state championships by running, pressing and wearing their opponents down.
Trams, who replaced Mike Carlos, tweaked a few things for the Beavers but they generally play the same uptempo basketball they’ve played the past two seasons and with many of the same players.
“They’re definitely a very athletic group and they’ve worked very hard,” Trams said. “These girls can fly.”
For the third straight year, Washburn will play Western Maine champion Richmond in the state title game. Washburn won 43-30 in 2011 and 60-35 last year. The Beavers return three starters — juniors Carmen Bragg and Carsyn Koch and sophomore Mackenzie Worcester — along with several others with state championship experience. Worcester, a 5-foot-5 guard led the Beavers in scoring most of the year. She scored 32 points in last week’s semifinal win against Machias and 24 in last year’s state title game.
Bragg scored a game-high 19 points in Washburn’s 71-39 win over Schenck in the Eastern Maine final. The Beavers were rarely challenged this season, their closest game being a 12-point win against Class C Fort Kent.
“In 65 percent of our games, the starters were done two minutes into the third quarter,” Trams said.
Richmond (17-3) had a rougher road to the state championship game. The Bobcats squeaked past Hyde, 43-36 in the semifinals before knocking off rival Rangeley 48-36 for the regional championship.
Hyde geared its defense toward stopping Richmond senior Jamie Plummer, a 1,000-point career scorer, and held her to four points. But seniors Ciarra Lancaster and Alyssa Pearson picked up the slack and combined for 20 points. With Plummer at 6-feet, Pearson at 5-11 and Lancaster at 5-10, the Bobcats will enjoy a size advantage.
“I watched a couple of their tournament games,” Trams said. “I’m aware they’re an aggressive team. They’ve got some height and they crash the boards really hard.”
A key to the game will be whether Richmond’s guards, Noell Acord, Bri Snedeker and Payton Johnson, can handle Washburn’s full- and half-court pressure.
“I describe them as a swarm of killer bees,” Richmond coach Molly Bishop said. “It starts with (our) guards and if they can see the open people. Plummer may become more of a guard in this game.”
Many of the same players met when the teams played for the Class D soccer title last fall. Richmond won that in penalty kicks for its second championship in a row. This task figures to be much more difficult.
“The girls realize we’re up against a challenge some would say is out of reach,” Bishop said. “If they keep the mental toughness we’ve had in practice this week, they’ll do all right.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638