RICHMOND — A gap between games approaching three weeks isn’t ideal for a basketball team. Players may be well rested, but they can also be a bit rusty as well as lose a little bit of their edge mentally.

The effects of Richmond’s layoff were apparent both early and late Monday when the girls and boys teams played their first game since Dec. 16. The girls were able to overcome them for a 33-24 win. The boys weren’t, however, and fell to the Vikings, 47-39.

Sydney Tilton tallied 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Bobcats improved to 7-0 in the first game of the doubleheader.

Tilton and her teammates buckled down defensively and held the Vikings to three points in the fourth quarter to overcome a one-point deficit heading into the period.

“There was definitely some rust to work off,” Richmond coach Mike Ladner said. “I thought (Searsport) made a good adjustment to come out in the third quarter with that press. We struggled against it a little bit trying to break it. We had some turnovers, but we made some adjustments at the end of the third quarter and switched up our offense a little bit and it seemed to work.”

It worked for Tilton, who scored eight in the final quarter. The Bobcats went inside to her on their first possession to go ahead for good, 22-21. Kelsea Anair added another inside hoop about two minutes later. Two more buckets by Tilton made it an 8-0 run before Searsport could finally respond with a Karigen Coffin pull-up jumper. It would be the Vikings’ only field goal of the quarter, as they shot 1-for-11 from the floor.

“We’re a big defensive team,” junior guard Meranda Martin said. “We like to play defense. We like to push the ball, so we like to tire other teams out.”

The Bobcats shut down Searsport (5-5) in the second quarter, too. The Vikings missed their first 11 shots and didn’t get a field goal until Coffin’s jumper with five seconds left in the half to cut Richmond’s lead to 18-9.

The cushion could have been larger, but the Bobcats were battling their own shooting woes, going 2-for-14.

The Vikings ratcheted up their defensive pressure in the third quarter, unveiling a full-court press that forced eight Richmond turnovers and didn’t even allow the Bobcats to attempt a shot until a little over two minutes were left in the period. Richmond’s only points came on two Tilton free throws, and Anna Bucklin gave Searsport the lead with a 3-pointer with 1:13 to go in the quarter.

“We were flat,” Ladner said. “I told the girls let’s not take them lightly and I think we did a little bit to start the second half. They’re a good team. It was a good mental test for us. We called it a win, but it was a grind.”

“It’s been a long stretch with just having practices, and we had a snow day or two in there, too,” Martin said. “But I think as a team, we really stepped up.”

Coffin led the Vikings with eight points and seven rebounds.

Searsport turned the tables in the boys game, dominating the fourth quarter by limiting Richmond to six points on 2-for-10 shooting. The Vikings scored the game’s final eight points from the free throw line to break away from what was a tie game with 1:22 remaining.

“It’s a great win for our kids,” Searsport coach Dave Pepin said. “We lost to the buzzer against these guys at home. We had some games where we’d get a win but we didn’t play great, so we’ve been looking for this.”

Barrett Grant led the Vikings (5-4) with 23 points and six rebounds, while Bryce Shorey added 14 points. Zach Small led the Bobcats (4-2) with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Matt Holt added 10 points and six boards.

After some lackluster shooting in the first half, Richmond seemed to be finding its rhythm against Searsport’s 2-3 zone in the third quarter as Small knocked down three 3-pointers to take a 33- 32 lead.

But the Vikings were able to consistently slow the game down, keep the Bobcats out of transition and close down driving lanes to the hoop in the halfcourt.

“We talked about tempo all last practice,” Pepin said. “We talked about having to stop them against our zone from penetrating because they penetrate well against it. So we talked about containing them off the dribble and everybody hitting the glass. I thought everybody did a really good job on the defensive boards.”

“They’re a physical team, so you’ve got to work hard and bring your ‘A’ game and be ready to push them around a little bit, too,” Richmond coach Jon Spear said. “They did a good job of slowing the ball down. When you get into games like that, we’ve got to come together and be a little bit more mentally tough to make sure that we can get our offense running through and looking for good shots.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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