RICHMOND — There is little doubt that every time the two-time defending Class C state champion Monmouth Academy girls basketball team steps onto the court, there is a target.

On Thursday in a key Mountain Valley Conference matchup with Richmond, Rick Larrabee turned to his bench for key second-half buckets for a 35-26 victory over the hot Bobcats.

Richmond, winners of seven of its past eight games coming in, fell to the Mustangs for the second time in 20 days and stands at 7-8 with a visit to winless Wiscasset slated for Saturday.

On the other side, Larrabee’s Mustangs are 11-4 after their sixth straight win and host Carrabec on Saturday (2:30 p.m.).

After a solid 16-9 first-quarter start for the visitors, the offense went away, with Monmouth tallying just two points in the second quarter.

“It was their 2-3 zone,” Larrabee said. “(Richmond) is pretty even across the board, 5-7 to 5-10, and when you have that length in a 2-3 zone and you don’t crash the boards, it is difficult to score. We were able to ride out that stretch because we had a lead. We knew that we had a chance. We just didn’t get flustered.”

Monmouth, after committing just one turnover in the first quarter, turned the ball over five times in the second, including four miscues on consecutive possessions.

However, Richmond failed to take advantage, with the Mustangs holding an 18-16 halftime lead.

“We didn’t capitalize. We had chances, even in the fourth quarter. They actually separated from us, which was frustrating,” said Richmond coach Mike Ladner.

Monmouth darted out to a 7-0 lead in the game’s first two minutes, as Kaeti Butterfield and Abby Ferland scored inside, while Julia Johnson drained a long 3-pointer.

Richmond answered with a 9-2 run, with treys coming from Bobcats Bryanne Lancaster and Hannah Moholland (two) for a 9-9 tie.

The Mustangs put together a second seven-point run, with Audrey Fletcher scoring five points for a 16-9 lead after a quarter.

The game slowed to a crawl in the second. Monmouth’s Katie Harris completed a 9-0 run for an 18-9 lead, but that was all for the Mustangs in the half.

Richmond crept back into things, closing the half by scoring the final seven points. Moholland led the Bobcats with eight first-half points.

Long, drawn-out possessions were featured in the third quarter, with the teams combining for just 18 attempted shots. A key 3-pointer from Monmouth’s Abby Flanagan staked the visitors to a 25-18 edge, while a three-point play by Lancaster kept Richmond close, with the Bobcats trailing 28-21 after three.

A season-long issue for Richmond showed up again in the fourth quarter. Three times, open shots rimmed out, with the Bobcats again scoring just five points in the frame, matching their third-quarter total.

“One game we put in 50 points, the next 25. We held them to 35 points. We did well defensively. We just didn’t score and we didn’t shoot the ball enough,” Ladner said. “Offensively we are a work in progress. We had one real good quarter, three not so good like the first time with Monmouth (a 38-27 Mustangs win). We are just very inconsistent.”

Monmouth’s Jordyn Gowell clinched the win, stepping back and swishing a 3 for a 31-23 edge.

“We have a lot of people that can play, a strong bench, and it is important that we get to play and score some points,” said Gowell, who was one of eight Mustangs to score. “We are used to working together as a team. Last year, we had players who didn’t get off the bench. This year, several of us play a lot more.”

“You have to build the fundamentals of the team and every player has to have good skills because they never know when they are going to get called,” said Larrabee. “I am cutting my rotation down to 7-8 players as we near the playoffs. But, they all need to be ready.”

Ferland paced Monmouth with eight points and six rebounds, with Fletcher, Johnson and Butterfield each picking up five points. Libby Clement blocked three shots, Fletcher had six rebounds and Johnson dished out two assists.

The Mustangs were a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line in the second half.

Moholland finished with a game-high nine points for Richmond, with Lancaster adding six points. Caitlin Kendrick picked up seven rebounds and dished out four assists, with Macy Carver pulling in five boards.

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