Don’t tell the Richmond Bobcats, the dominant team in the East-West Conference and top seed in the Class C South girls basketball tournament, that they don’t belong in a tournament that has traditionally been dominated by teams from the Mountain Valley Conference.

After moving up from Class D, where his team was a perennial contender, Richmond coach Mike Ladner thinks the Bobcats will feel right at home in their new region.

“Our style of basketball is very similar to how they play in the MVC,” Ladner said.

Indeed, Richmond (16-2) plays aggressive defense and likes to run the floor, much like its MVC peers. It also has something most of the MVC representatives aside from Boothbay lacks — size. The Bobcats have one of the top inside players in the tournament in 5-foot-8 sophomore Sydney Tilton and steady 5-foot-9 senior Kelsea Anair, who possess the size and athleticism to match up with Boothbay. Add a scrappy backcourt led by junior Meranda Martin and its considerable depth, success in big games in other sports such as soccer and softball, and the fact that Ladner thinks his offense has finally caught up with his hard-nosed defense, and its tough to deny the Bobcats have a rightful claim to favorite’s status.

No. 2 Boothbay can make just as strong a case after emerging from the MVC with a 17-1 record. The Seahawks’ lone loss was by one point on a 3-pointer at the buzzer at third-seeded Monmouth Academy. They boast the MVC’s top scorer in 6-foot sophomore Paige Brown (17.3 ppg) and a matchup nightmare in 6-foot-2 freshman swingman Faith Blethen.

Monmouth (17-2) showed in that win that it can stand toe-to-toe with anyone at the defensive end. If the Mustangs’ shooting is on the mark, watch out.

They handled their quarterfinal opponent, St. Dominic Academy, by an average of 41 points in two regular-season wins. But Mustangs coach Scott Wing is confident his team won’t be looking ahead to a potential semifinal matchup with Boothbay.

“We’ve been talking about that quite a bit and we’ll be bringing up how hard it is to beat teams three times in a year so that we keep focused on it,” Wing said. “I think the girls are pretty focused. They know we have a pretty solid chance to move along deep into this tournament. I think they aren’t looking by anybody.”

Sophomore Tia Day is a handful on the perimeter (second in the MVC with 32 3-pointers) and runs the offense with a senior’s poise. Senior Sidney Wilson is also capable of getting hot and carrying the offensive load, while senior Haley West (league-leading 9.6 rebounds per game) and sophomores Hannah Anderson, Abbey Allen, Maddie Amero and Emily Grandahl have been key role players.

“I think that’s the biggest thing with our team right now is that we’re kind of a scouting nightmare,” Wing said. “Obviously, people know that Tia and Sidney can shoot the ball, but what happens when teams focus on them so much it gives the other kids opportunities to do stuff.”

Fourth-seeded Madison dispatched one Western Maine Conference team in the preliminary round by edging No. 13 Waynflete, 39-38. Next up for the Bulldogs (12-7) is the lone remaining WMC team, No. 12 Traip Academy (8-11), which handled fifth-seeded Hebron Academy easily in the prelims.

“Traip is not what you consider a typical 12 seed,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said. “They’ve played a lot of Class A and B teams in the WMC. That’s a very good team that we’re going to play.”

The Rangers have a pair of 6-foot juniors in Marina Casey and Carly Patterson and leadership and scoring in the backcourt with senior Jessica Segura. Veneziano will be counting on Erin Whalen and Lauren Hay, who average over seven rebounds apiece, to hold down the paint while guards Kayla Bess (14 ppg) and Madeline Wood operate from the perimeter.

“We just need to make sure we’re ready to rebound and be aggressive,” he said.

No. 7 Carrabec (12-7) limited Boothbay to a season-low in points in a 27-20 loss on Jan. 23. The Cobras wouldn’t mind another low-scoring game against their quarterfinal opponents so they can put the game in the hands of the MVC’s fifth-leading scorer, speedy senior Mickayla Willette (12.1 ppg) and a senior-laden nucleus that includes four players who saw meaningful minutes on the 2014 regional championship team and has the ACC experience edge over the young Seahawks.

“I think it is an advantage, especially coming into your first game at the Civic Center,” Carrabec coach Skip Rugh said. “They’ve been there and they’ve seen it and the know what it’s like.”

Rugh would love to see his team carry over its defensive effort from the first game with Boothbay — from the whole season, really. He just hopes the Cobras are ready to match that with opportunism at the offensive end.

“I just think we need to make the transition from being super-intense on defense to being more patient on offense and get some good looks,” he said.

No. 11 Saint Dominic (10-9) upset a banged-up sixth seed in Dirigo in the prelims, and Monmouth can’t afford to overlook its quarterfinal foe, even if it won the two regular-season meetings by an average of 36 points. The Saints have one of the top frontcourt forces in the tournament in 5-foot-11 junior center Chloe Dwinell, who finished in the top 10 in the MVC in scoring (10.9), rebounding (8.6) and blocks (3.6).

No. 8 Searsport (12-7) lost twice to Richmond during the regular season, by 18 at home and nine at Richmond. The Vikings will try to get over the hump led by forward Melinda Ogden, a 3-point marksman with over 1,000 career points.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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