AUGUSTA — It took a little while for the Rangeley girls basketball team to find itself offensively in Saturday’s Western D championship game against Richmond. Defense, however, was never a problem, and it was that defense that carried the Lakers even after they found their shooting touch in the second half.

“We’ve been working a lot on our defense with the boys. I feel playing against tougher people, it’s kind of easier down here,” Rangeley senior Taylor Esty said.

Esty scored nine of her 15 points in the third quarter, helping the Lakers take control of the game and earn a 39-22 win. No. 2 Rangeley, now 20-0, will face a Washburn (21-0) team going for its fifth consecutive state championship in the Class D title game next Saturday at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. No. 4 Richmond ends the season at 14-7.

It’s the first appearance in the state final since 2004 for the Lakers.

Neither team played particularly well at the offensive end in the first half. Richmond struggled against Rangeley’s pressure, committing 12 turnovers in the first half, while couldn’t find opening in the paint against the Bobcats 2-1-2 zone, and perimeter shots did not fall.

“We knew they were going to come at us in a zone, and we were forcing the ball too much,” Esty said. “Some people may have had jitters. Me, myself, I was perfectly calmed down because I’ve been here so many times. Once we slowed down, we were able to work the ball inside and get the shots we wanted.”

Esty and Blayke Morin (11 points) each scored a basket in the first minute of the second half, pushing the Lakers’ lead to 11 points and forcing the Bobcats to go to a man-to-man defense.

“That’s a tough matchup for us. I thought we did a really good job in the first half, playing that 2-1-2 (zone) to negate them, but we weren’t hitting our shots. We struggled offensively,” Richmond coach Mike Ladner said.

The Lakers extended their lead in the fourth quarter. Seve Deery-DeRaps made a 3-pointer to make it 34-17 Rangeley with six minutes left in the game.

Esty had 14 rebounds for Rangeley, while Maddison Egan had three steals. Kelsea Anair and Sydney Tilton each scored nine points for Richmond.

“I’m proud of my girls,” Ladner said. “They fought hard all season.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.