AUGUSTA — Fresh off the bench after some much-earned rest, Izzy Stewart looked to Darby Flanagan with an expression of satisfaction.

High-fiving as they took the floor to begin the third quarter, the two forwards for the Richmond girls basketball team knew what they’d done. All afternoon long, their mere existence was a nightmare for a Poland team that had no answer for their size in the Bobcats’ 52-28 Class C South quarterfinal victory. 

“They were walking in (to the Augusta Civic Center) past us, and I got a little doubtful because they looked pretty tall, but their height was in the guards, I feel like,” Stewart said. “Throughout the game, once we found a rhythm for ourselves inside, we just got going and didn’t stop.”

The two were essential in pacing Richmond out to an 18-0 lead, one that lasted the remainder of the game in a comfortable victory. The 6-foot Stewart led the way with 19 points and six rebounds, while Flanagan, 6-2, added 14 and six as the Bobcats advanced to face either No. 2 Hall-Dale or No. 7 Winthrop in Wednesday’s semis.

Richmond’s size advantage was evident early. Stewart and Flanagan wore down sixth-ranked Poland (13-7) down low with the former scoring 10 first-quarter points and the latter adding two early buckets. A 3 from Charlotte Grenier at the buzzer finally ended the Bobcats’ run as the higher seed took an 18-3 lead into the second.

Richmond head coach Mike Ladner and players celebrate after a three point shot against Poland during a Class C South girls basketball quarterfinal game Tuesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“When we went up 18-0, I was just telling the girls, ‘Just keep pounding it inside, and if the inside isn’t there, let’s kick it out and look for the outside shot,’” said Richmond head coach Mike Ladner. “We played great man-to-man defense, had great communication and showed a lot of patience on offense.”


Grenier’s triple provided some momentum for Poland, which used it as the start of a 12-4 run that cut Richmond’s lead down to 10. The third-ranked Bobcats (17-2) then scored 8 of the next 10 points to push it back to 16 before two Thea Thornton free throws and a Ruby Taylor jumper cut the deficit to 28-16 at half.

Poland would never get closer than that. Fueled by six points from Flanagan, Richmond outscored the Knights 13-2 in the third quarter to take a 23-point lead into the fourth. Stewart then scored six points of her own in the fourth as the Bobcats led by as many as 28 late in a wire-to-wire victory.

“We really just focused on playing our game today and letting them adjust how they were going to adjust,” Stewart said. “I think we just had to go out and play our game like we would against anyone else. If we do that, we have faith in ourselves that, no matter who we’re playing, we should come out on top.”

Even when they weren’t grabbing rebounds, Stewart and Flanagan completely disrupted Poland’s offensive flow as their size prevented the Knights from doing much of anything in the paint. Poland didn’t even attempt a shot until midway through the first quarter, at which point Richmond led 8-0.

Richmond finished with a 29-16 edge in rebounding as the size of Stewart and Flanagan prevented Poland from grabbing much of anything. Yet for all that duo did, it was Breonna Dufresne who led the team on the boards as she brought down 11 rebounds. She also registered six assists.

After grabbing a rebound, Richmond’s Darby Flanagan (23) shoots and scores during a Class C South girls basketball quarterfinal game Tuesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“She’s our Energizer Bunny; she makes us go,” Ladner said. “She might not score a lot of points, but a lot of the things we do go through her offensively and defensively. I was so proud of her defense tonight; she picked up only one foul and I think it was with three minutes or so left in the game.”

Richmond completely shut down Thornton, Poland’s senior captain and top player, whose only two points came on the free throws late in the first half as she finished 0 for 9 from the field. Grenier had a team-high eight points for the Knights, who finished just 9 for 36 as a team.

The win was Richmond’s first in the regional quarterfinals since a 33-30 victory over Old Orchard Beach in 2018. With a win in Thursday’s semifinals, the Bobcats, who were in Class D prior to 2016, can advance to their first-ever Class C South championship game.

“This was a big one,” Flanagan said. It feels awesome. I’m glad I get to play one more game with my seniors.”

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