RICHMOND — In the days leading up to Rangeley’s rematch with East-West Conference rival Richmond, Lakers coach Heidi Deery played the good cop to try to keep her team low key.

On Tuesday, Deery turned bad cop and asked the Lakers whether they had the fortitude to stand up to the Bobcats, who moved up to Class C in the new five-class format and handed the Lakers their only loss, 42-40 in overtime in the season-opener.

“I know we’re in it every year, but we’ve got a young team,” Deery said. “We’ve come so far since November emotionally, character-wise, believing in ourselves and what we’re trying to do. And this was a great opportunity for us.”

“I played it real cool with them,” she added, “but then I laid it on them today and said ‘What are you guys made of?'”

Deery was happy with the Lakers’ answer, as they shook off a sloppy start and an off-shooting night by star center Blayke Morin to control the second half and overtime and defeat the Bobcats, 53-49.

Sophomore Natasha Haley led the Lakers (12-1) with 19 points, five rebounds and four steals. Morin found other ways to affect the outcome despite her shooting woes and finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Senior Maddison Egan added seven points and made a couple of key plays in overtime for the Lakers.

“We really needed this,” Egan said. “We’ve been working really hard these last couple of weeks on ways to stop them.” Sydney Tilton paced the Bobcats (8-2) with 21 points, nine rebounds and four steals while Meranda Martin added 11 points and 10 steals.

With Egan’s playing time limited by injury and sixth man Amelia McMillan out, the Lakers’ inexperience showed in the first half. Tilton battled Morin in the paint and limited her to just three points in the first half, and Richmond found enough openings in Rangeley’s box-and-one defense to build a 28-15 lead.

“I said (at halftime), ‘you guys have got two minutes to show that we can compete with them in the ’50,’ which is our halfcourt man, and if not, I’m going to call a timeout and we’re going to ‘Plan C,'” Deery said. “I could tell that (Richmond) didn’t like having to set up their offense, so we stuck with it.”

“We usually get off to a slow start,” Egan added. “The third quarter is usually our best.”

Morin got more active moving without the ball and crashed the boards in the second half to give the Lakers other opportunities, which often led to her or a teammate getting to the free throw line. The Lakers cut an 11-point halftime deficit to seven at the end of three, then held the Bobcats to just seven points in the fourth quarter as Morin sank two free throws with 1:09 left to tie the game at 45-45.

Overtime turned into a foul-shooting contest, with Egan scoring the session’s only field goal during its biggest sequence.

With Richmond up by one, Egan took a pass from Morin on the right wing, knocked down a jump shot to put the Lakers ahead for good and was fouled in the process. She missed the subsequent free throw, but saved the long rebound from going out of bounds on the sideline. Haley was fouled six seconds later and hit both free throws to make it 49-46 with 1:57 left.

Martin made one of two from the line to cut the margin to two, and Richmond got a defensive stop and had a chance to tie it with under a minute left but missed an open shot.

Haley made three of four free throws and Morin one of two in the final 38 seconds, while the Bobcats made just two of four from the line and lost possession due to a traveling call down three with four seconds left.

“I liked the effort, but there were a lot of little mistakes, like the travels,” said Richmond coach Mike Ladner, whose team had 35 turnovers, including four in overtime. “The devil’s in the details — some travels, some stupid turnovers, rushing our shots. A lot of it is inexperience. Hopefully, we’ve learned from our mistakes.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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