RICHMOND — The Richmond boys basketball team entered Wednesday night looking for its first win. The Bobcats got it, while finding a formula that could lead to several more throughout the rest of the season.

Danny Stewart totaled 18 points and 16 rebounds and Calob Densmore had 17 and 12, leading Richmond to a 53-43 victory over Oak Hill in a Mountain Valley Conference matchup.

With Richmond comfortably ahead at halftime, the Bobcats’ two leaders took over to ensure there would be no Raider rally. Densmore and Stewart combined to score all but two of Richmond’s second-half points, with the only exception coming on the last basket of the game.

After the Bobcats endured the dual blow of losing Zach Small and Matt Rines, there was a question as to how Richmond would remain competitive in the MVC. It’s been an adjustment so far, but Wednesday night, with a pair of proven varsity players seizing command on offense, looked more familiar.

“When you lose Zach and Matt, we probably lost 95 percent of our offense, and we lost 100 percent of our ballhandling,” coach Phil Houdlette said. “So it’s on-the-job training for them, it really is.”

Oak Hill was led by 13 points from Justin Aldridge and 11 from Gabe Samson, as well as nine rebounds from Liam Rodrigue. The Raiders, who have no seniors, led briefly in the first quarter before falling behind in the second, and never got closer than seven points in the second half en route to falling to 0-3.

“We’re figuring out how to play varsity basketball,” coach Tom Smith said. “I have a very young team. I have no seniors, so they’re playing with heart, I played freshmen who are learning on the fly. Basically, the whole team is learning to do everything, basketball-wise.”

It was a learning experience in the middle quarters as Richmond began to pull away. An Ausborne Boston jumper on the first shot of the second quarter cut the deficit to 12-11, but Richmond scored 12 of the next 16 points — getting six from Stewart — to take a 24-15 lead with 4:26 left. Oak Hill made it 26-19 on a Caden Thompson (six points) layup in the closing seconds, but Damien Larochelle beat the buzzer for the Bobcats, and Richmond began the third quarter on a 9-3 run — this time getting seven points from Densmore — to mount a 37-22 lead with 4:05 to go in the quarter.

Houdlette said both of his leading players have been impressive in the young season.

“Danny works so hard. I don’t care if we’re playing Mountain Valley up there, he’s going to get 10, 12 rebounds because he’s going to work his tail off,” he said. “I think Calob feels a little more patient on the offensive end, he would get at least as much, if not more and better shots than he does now. But that’s youth. He’s only a sophomore. He’s been thrust in the limelight.”

Oak Hill inched within 49-42 on a Samson jumper with 2:47 to play, prompting Houdlette to call timeout, but Stewart hit a pair of free throws and Kenny Bing notched a basket — the lone second-half points not scored by Stewart and Densmore — on the next series to put the game away.

With the exception of Rodrigue, the Raiders didn’t have players who could beat Stewart, Densmore and Ben Gardner (five rebounds) on the boards. Richmond outrebounded Oak Hill 34-24, in the process gaining second chances that Smith said made the difference.

“It’s been that way the first three games. We’ve been out-rebounded, and mostly on the offensive rebounding,” Smith said. “We play great defense, they put a shot up, miss, and the first three games have been like that. They get two, three, four opportunities, and if you get that many, eventually you’re going to score.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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