AUGUSTA — A season in which everything went right for the Richmond girls basketball team came screeching to a halt Thursday afternoon, due largely to a quarter in which everything went wrong.

Undefeated throughout the year, the Bobcats suddenly ran out of whatever had propelled them to the big stage of the Augusta Civic Center. Shots missed, fouls were called and top-seeded Richmond couldn’t recover, falling to No. 5 Old Orchard Beach, 38-24.

“(I’m) very proud of the girls, second year in Class C, we come out 18-0, I think we were the only C team that went undefeated for the regular season,” Bobcats coach Mike Ladner said. “Am I a little disappointed? Right now, yes, to be honest with you. That’s a tough pill to swallow.”

The teams were tied at 17 going into halftime, but the Bobcats (19-1) will lament the third quarter that followed. Richmond went scoreless for the entire frame, part of a span of 16:31 in which the Bobcats were held without a point.

“I think we came out of the locker room a little bit flat,” senior guard and captain Meranda Martin said. “In the beginning of the game we were fighting back-and-forth, back-and-forth. And in the third quarter, we just couldn’t hit anything. They were hitting their shots and that was the difference.”

The Bobcats knew they needed a response coming out of halftime after six Mackenzie Abbott points had helped Richmond rally from a 13-8 deficit early in the second, but a scoreless drought for the last 3:56 had allowed Old Orchard Beach (13-8) to pull even again.

“We talked about (how) the first four minutes of the third quarter were going to be crucial,” Ladner said. “We were hoping it was going to be for us, not for them, though.”

Instead, the Seagulls were the ones making the move. Old Orchard Beach hit five straight attempts after two misses to start the third, and Emily Greenlee and Brianna Plante (eight points) scored five points apiece in the quarter to stage the Seagulls to a 33-17 advantage by the time it was over.

“We came out cold, they came out on fire,” Ladner said. “We went from being tied to down eight, just like that.”

When they had the ball, the Bobcats couldn’t keep up. The shooting touch that had allowed them to score 32-29 and 45-30 victories over Old Orchard Beach failed them in the third matchup, as Richmond went 0-for-11 from the field in the third.

“They forced us to make our outside shots and you saw we didn’t,” said Ladner, whose team was led by nine points from Abbott. “We could not hit a broad side of a barn today.”

Compounding the struggles was foul trouble to center Sydney Underhill-Tilton, the team’s most reliable scorer and post defender, who scored six points and grabbed nine rebounds during a foul-heavy first half that turned the game into a parade to the free-throw line. Three of those fouls were hers, however, and after picking up her fourth on a Maggie Strohm layup with 5:09 to go in the third quarter, the junior had to return to the bench with Richmond down 28-17 and reeling.

“I’ve been in situations like that before. I try not to let it bother me,” Underhill-Tilton said. “It’s kind of ‘OK coach, what should I do now? Where should I go?’ I know personally what to do, but I like having that other voice in my ear.”

The lead built quickly. Old Orchard Beach, led throughout the game by Meghan LaPlante’s 11 points and nine rebounds, had its 16 third-quarter points in under five minutes, and Richmond, had to come to grips with a postseason run that was fading fast.

“It’s tough when you come out of the locker room, tie game, and they go out and put in a couple of shots and we’re down now,” Martin said. “We’re fighting from behind, and you’ve just got to fight. There’s nothing you can really do about it.”

Though the hole proved too deep, neither Ladner nor his players took their sights off the season as a whole. Richmond has now gone 34-2 in two Class C regular seasons, and the Bobcats went a round further than they did last season in the playoffs.

“I look at it as we had a great season,” Martin said. “This is the best team I’ve played on, chemistry-wise. We were just all so close.”

“This is one of the best basketball experiences I’ve ever had,” Underhill-Tilton said. “I couldn’t trade a record or an experience like that for the world.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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