AUGUSTA — If defense wins championships, then the Richmond High School girls basketball team is on the right track.

Perfectly content to be locked in low-scoring struggles, the top-seeded Bobcats imposed their will on an overwhelmed Gould Academy squad in the Class C South quarterfinals on Tuesday and moved on to the next round with a 39-22 win at the Augusta Civic Center.

No. 4 Old Orchard Beach, a winner over Madison in the early game, awaits Richmond (19-0) in Thursday’s regional semifinals.

One year after entering the tournament as the No. 1 seed and being bounced in the quarterfinals, the Bobcats emphasized a quick start to avoid the same happening again this time around. Junior Sydney Tilton provided the spark early, scoring the game’s first seven points en route to an 18-point, 17-rebound double-double that gave Richmond all the cushion it would need.

“We came here and watched kids in games the other day, and a lot of those games (teams) came out strong, and that set them aside from their opponent,” Tilton said. “When you come out slow, you’re playing catch-up the rest of the game. … Our main goal was to come out, start hard and finish strong.”

Tilton stepped out and drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key just a minute into the contest, a bid that was as much about taking an open shot as it was a chance for Tilton to try and open up space later on in the paint.

“(Richmond coach Mike Ladner) encourages if you have the shot, take it,” Tilton said. “Outside-inside, that’s what I’ve been working on. When I have the 3s, I feel confident and I try and follow through and take them.”

Ladner was happy to rely on Tilton in the low post while some of the Bobcats’ younger perimeter players got a chance to ease into their first real taste of tournament play.

Freshman Bryanne Lancaster was one of those players, coming off the bench in the first half to score eight points, including a pair of 3s. Mackenzie Abbott also finished with eight points.

“I felt like in the first half we had some nerves,” Ladner said. “It took a little while to work through them, but it’s nice to have an inside presence like that. (Sydney) is solid, she’s reliable.”

But Tuesday’s effort was all about the defense.

Richmond forced Gould (8-2) into 32 turnovers — 21 of them in the first half — while holding the Huskies to only three total field goals through three quarters.

“We preach that it’s not who we play, it’s how we play. We try and dictate tempo,” Ladner said. “(Last year) was always in the back of my mind, and I’m sure it was in their minds, too. But we did well, and I was very proud of them.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC