AUGUSTA — Meranda Martin doesn’t flinch when she gets a tough defensive assignment from Richmond coach Mike Ladner.

“They always put me in one of these positions, in all sports,” said Martin, who was a forward on Richmond’s regional title-winning soccer team in the fall. “I’m kind of used to it.”

The sophomore guard led a stellar team defensive effort by the fourth-seeded Bobcats in their 32-22 win over No. 5 Hyde Tuesday in the Western Class D quarterfinals.

Richmond will face seventh-seeded Vinalhaven in the semifinals at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. The teams split two games during the regular season.

Richmond’s Kelsea Anair led all scorers with 12 points and also had five rebounds and four assists. Sydney Tilton added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats.

Richmond held Hyde without a field goal for two long stretches yet still had to fend off a fourth-quarter scare from the Phoenix.

Martin drew the task of guarding Hyde point guard Lilly Allen and, combined with the Bobcats’ trademark fullcourt pressure, harassed the sophomore enough to force Hyde (30 turnovers) into numerous mistakes.

“That was huge,” Ladner said. “I preached that from the beginning with Meranda. I told her all week, ‘Lilly Allen is yours. You’re going to be on her full length (of the court) the whole game.’ That’s what she does. She’s our defensive stopper.”

Allen’s jumper put the Phoenix up with 3:37 left in the first quarter, but those were their last points of the half. Richmond scored the next 14 points to take an 18-6 lead into halftime.

“We’re a defensive team,” Ladner said. “We don’t put a lot of points up on the board. We play great defense and we look to score off of our transition.”

“Richmond did a nice job with their man-to-man,” Hyde coach Jennifer Lobozzo said. “I think we got a little ratted in the first with their press. I told the girls, the first half, we can’t go back and change that. So what can we do with the next 16 minutes of ball?”

Diamond Brown finally snapped Hyde’s drought with a jumper that made it 23-10 with 4:10 left in the third. The Phoenix nearly doubled their first-half scoring in the quarter (11 points), but Anair scored eight points in the period to keep the Bobcats in control, 28-17, heading into the fourth.

Allen opened the final period with a 3-pointer, and Emma Levensohn drained two free throws to pull the Phoenix within six with 5:53 to go.

Both teams traded turnovers and missed shots for the next two minutes before Anair scored on a strong drive along the baseline to make it 30-22 with 3:37 left.

Hyde missed its final seven shots after Allen’s 3-pointer.

“It was a little scary at one point, but coach called a time out, settled us down and we pulled through,” Martin said.

Allen and Brown finished with 10 points apiece to lead the Phoenix.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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