RICHMOND — The first quarter couldn’t have gone much worse for the Richmond boys basketball team. The last couldn’t have gone much better.

Kenny Bing scored 23 points, Calob Densmore had 19, and the Bobcats worked their way back from a 14-point first-quarter deficit to beat North Yarmouth Academy 58-49.

It was a big win for Richmond (7-6), which by beating the Panthers (8-4) got some crucial Heal points, and Densmore said it was probably the biggest.

“We knew we could do it. We knew we could win,” said the junior, who also grabbed 13 rebounds. “We just came out and kept working, kept working.”

The Bobcats were down 21-7 after the first quarter but tightened defensively late, allowing only a transition basket off a turnover in the first 7 minutes and 25 seconds of the fourth quarter.

“I thought we played decently in the first half, we just turned the ball over too many times,” Richmond coach Phil Houdlette said. “But we gave up 30 points in the first half, gave up 19 in the second half. … I thought we really clamped down defensively, started pushing the basketball, got some transition baskets, and I think it’s contagious.”

The rally had started early, with Richmond narrowing the 14-point deficit to 10 at the half and then six at 40-34 entering the fourth, but it was kicked into another gear in the final period. After Densmore made a free throw, Cole Alexander — who worked as a facilitator throughout the first three quarters and had yet to score — knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 40-38.

After an NYA turnover, the ball found its way to Bing behind the top of the key, and the senior buried the 3-pointer to give Richmond its first lead at 41-40 with 5:33 to play. Richmond kept pushing, with Densmore adding a basket, Bing hitting a putback and Alexander, who had eight points in the fourth quarter, canning another three to make it 48-40 with 2:40 left.

NYA didn’t get within seven points the rest of the way.

“It boosts our confidence a high amount,” Bing said. “That felt good. It was a good win.”

It was an impressive comeback, and it wasn’t going to happen unless the Bobcats addressed a few key areas. First and foremost was NYA forward Te’Andre King, who had eight rebounds in the first five minutes of the game and was single-handedly making the post battle an unfair fight.

Richmond was going to have to get tougher inside. That meant more on the plate for Densmore and Bing, who had 12 rebounds, and some double-teaming work from Alexander to limit the 6-4 King on the offensive end. It worked; after gathering six points and nine rebounds in the first quarter, King had eight points and five rebounds the rest of the way.

“Coach (Paul) Lancaster really does a good job with us,” Houdlette said. “He said (to Bing) ‘You’re as good as this guy. You’ve got to step up and get into him and play.’ It’s not like we don’t play him, we play him every summer. I thought he did a nice job.”

The other mission was finding an answer for Chris Hamblett, who was burning the Bobcats in transition en route to 10 first-quarter points. That was fixed as well; Richmond cut down on the turnovers, focused on making the Panther guard uncomfortable, and held him to six more points.

“He doesn’t shoot the ball often from the outside at all, (so I said) ‘Let’s force him left and not let him go right,’ ” Houdlette said. ” ‘He goes right all the time. Make him give it up.’ ”

Densmore, who helped fuel the Richmond comeback with his team’s first 10 points of the second quarter, and Bing led the way for the Bobcats, but defensive efforts from some of the team’s supporting cast — Alexander, Ben Gardner and Dakotah Gilpatric — helped make the rally a reality.

“They were extremely disappointed in themselves. We said to them ‘This is the first quarter, this is a long game, we’ve got a lot of time,’ ” Houdlette said. ” ‘Let’s get it to 10.  If we can get it to 10 by half or less, we’ll take it. And if we can get it to 10 in the fourth quarter at home, I think we’ve got a good shot.’ And they really took that to heart and played really hard.”

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