AUGUSTA — Prior to Friday’s 39-35 win over Searsport, it has been a long time since the Rangeley girls basketball team has played a competitive game. Long enough that when asked about the last time she had played one, Lakers senior captain Taylor Esty needed a few moments to think about it.

“Oh man, honestly, that competitive? Probably last year here (at the Augusta Civic Center) against Searsport or Forest Hills in the finals,” the 6-foot-1 forward said.

Since falling to Forest Hills on a buzzer beater in the Western D finals last season the Lakers have coasted past their competition. Their average margin of victory during the regular season this winter was 41 points per game, yet Rangeley knew once the postseason rolled around it would eventually be challenged.

“We kept our composure the whole time and that’s something we’ve worked on all year, even if we haven’t had the big games,” Rangeley senior captain Seve Deery-DeRaps said. “In practice Coach has really put us in those situations. She’ll put the time on the clock and put us down three, four or five and she’ll make us work our way back.

“It was different from practice and in a game, but we knew if we kept our composure and kept playing we could do it. We couldn’t let those ideas like, ‘oh my gosh, we could lose,’ get in our heads because that does no good.”

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How teams react to a playoff win at a venue like the Civic Center says a lot about how they handle the big stage.

Richmond’s largest lead was nine points Saturday in the Western D semifinals, yet after it closed out a 35-28 victory over Vinalhaven the postgame celebration was fairly subdued. Sure there were plenty of smiles and a few hugs, but nothing too wild.

A lot of that stems from a number of Richmond’s core players being used to playing in championship games, even if none of them are seniors. For juniors Kelsea Anair, Autumn Acord, Jade Gammon and Kalah Patterson, as well as sophomores Meranda Martin, Camryn Hurley and Cassidy Harriman, this will be the third straight sports season they have made it to at least a regional championship.

The group played on the Richmond softball team that won the Class D title last spring and the girls soccer team that lost to Ashland 2-1 in overtime in the Class D championship in the fall. The Bobcats girls basketball team will play Rangeley for the Western D title Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Civic Center.

“I’ve never made it to a Western Maine game or a state game in basketball and I’ve done it in softball and soccer,” Martin said. “Just the feeling of being there is great.”


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