It’s rare to find the undefeated team with a chip on its shoulder. But after 18 games, all wins, the top-seeded Richmond girls basketball team enters the C South tournament with something to prove.

Whether it’s making up for last year’s one-and-done experience as a No. 1 seed, or playing in a field with more established Class C programs Boothbay and Monmouth Academy, the Bobcats are eager to answer some doubters as they join seven other teams at the Augusta Civic Center.

“As far as a target on our backs, I don’t really feel as though there is one,” coach Mike Ladner said. “I think a lot of people are looking more towards Boothbay or maybe Monmouth, just because they’re the proven commodities while we’re still an unknown.”

Any doubt that’s out there is due to Richmond’s schedule. The Bobcats moved up from Class D in the class restructuring in 2015, and plays a schedule largely consisting of teams from the smaller-school East/West Conference.

“We take that as a slight,” Ladner said. “We can’t really dictate our schedule, so to speak, because we’re in the East/West Conference and we haven’t been able to get into any of the C conferences since we’ve played up. We take it a little personal that they don’t take us as serious.”

The Bobcats will try to kick off a deep run in its quarterfinal matchup with No. 8 Gould. No. 2 Boothbay will play No. 10 Mt. Abram, while No. 3 Monmouth will have No. 6 Waynflete and No. 4 Old Orchard Beach will play No. 5 Madison to round out the South games.

It’ll be a chance for redemption for Richmond, which exited in this round as the top seed last year in a 33-32 loss to Searsport.

“It’s been a totally different mindset and approach this year from last year,” Ladner said. “Last year, we talked about it almost every single week, about being the No. 1 seed and our record. And to be honest with you, I think we did look past Searsport, and it came back to bite us.”

Richmond didn’t play Gould, but Ladner said he saw the team’s win over Winthrop in the preliminary round.

“I think as long as we’re able to put some pressure on the ball … and get some turnovers and easy transition baskets, we’ll be fine,” he said. “As long as we play our basketball and don’t get wrapped up in the whole Civic Center thing.”

Defending regional champion Boothbay, which is led by two of the class’s best players in 6-foot-1 sharpshooter Faith Blethen and 5-foot-11 post ace Page Brown, draws a Mt. Abram team that it crushed 75-29 in the holiday tournament at the Civic Center. The Roadrunners, who upset No. 7 Hebron Academy in the preliminary round behind 15 points from Megan Sorel, have won three straight games and six of their last nine.

The third-seeded Mustangs will tackle a Waynflete team they haven’t played this year, but coach Scott Wing said he knows what to expect out of the Portland school that, while lower seeded, plays mostly Class B and C competition.

“We’ve seen them play. They’re fairly tall, they’ve got three girls that are about 5-foot-10, two of them start, and one of them (Lydia Giguere) is their best all-around player,” he said. “They face some decent competition throughout the year.”

The Mustangs — no strangers to good competition themselves, having handed Boothbay its only loss — sport a balanced offense led by guard Tia Day, but Wing said Monmouth’s best chances at moving on rest with its defense.

“We definitely focus on our defense a lot, because that’s something we should be able to guarantee we can control,” said Wing. “Offense can be hot and cold at times, but your defense should always be able to play solid.”

Madison, which advanced to the regional final last year, will look to start a return trip by handling Old Orchard Beach with a offense that has seen Sydney LeBlanc, Madeline Wood, Lauren Hay and Ashley Emery take turns in the spotlight.

“It’s a real team effort. We’ve had that all season long,” coach Al Veneziano said. “That adds a little more to our attack, when we can have that happen. We can get everyone playing well and everyone sharing in the scoring.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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