The Old Town High School girls basketball team has exhibited a steady ascension since Hannah Richards began playing for her mother, Heather Richards, four years ago.
The Coyotes didn’t qualify for the Class B North tournament her freshman year, but earned the No. 4 seed the following season and lost to defending state champ Winslow 36-29 in a quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
It was the first time Old Town had qualified for the postseason since 2014.
The Coyotes went a step further last season, beating Houlton in the quarterfinals before losing to Hermon in the semifinals after beating the Hawks twice during the regular season.
The Richards had hoped to help Old Town take another step or two during this, their final basketball season together. But the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of Maine Principals’ Association regional tournaments and state championships.
“It kind of stinks that we won’t be able to go out on a high note with a championship. It’s definitely disappointing. But at least we’re getting a season in,” said Hannah Richards, a guard and a tri-captain for the Coyotes.
Most conferences will hold some form of postseason tournaments after a reduced regular-season schedule of 12 games rather than the usual 18.
That means the Richards’ perspective has changed.
“We understand the big picture isn’t there anymore,” Heather Richards said. “But we’re thankful we get to play every day.
“You go back to the spring and the seniors didn’t get a season. We’re trying to make this memorable for each other,” she said.
Heather and Hannah Richards intend to make the most of their last season together.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Hannah Richards said. “My mom has been coaching me all the way through for the most part.
Coach Richards said her daughter has grasped the fact this is her last season and is simply trying to enjoy playing with her teammates while not looking too far ahead.
The Richards hope to make it memorable.
“It’s great. I might have enjoyed it more than she did sometimes. But it has been a pleasure. It has been fun,” Heather Richards said.
The reconfigured season and schedule mean Old Town will have the unique opportunity to play teams they wouldn’t normally face, such as Class AA neighbor Bangor and Class A Hampden Academy.
Hannah Richards said there are still goals she would like to accomplish, including going undefeated.
“Hampden has been in a lot of state games the past few years,” she said of the Broncos’ three straight state Class A championship appearances.
Bangor was the No. 3 seed and a Class AA North semifinalist the past two seasons.
“That is going to be a great challenge to see if we can compete at that level,” Hannah Richards said.
Magnifying those matchups is the players’ familiarity with each other.
“There are rivalries with those teams from summer league basketball,” Heather Richards said. “And our girls have friends on those teams.”
Hannah Richards is one of only two seniors on the Old Town team along with forward and tri-captain Payton Cody.
The Coyotes have a talented junior class with a ton of experience that includes guards Lexi Thibodeau, Maddie Arsenault and Maddie Emerson along with forward and tri-captain Sydney Loring.
They also feature two impactful freshmen in forward Saige Evans and guard Makayla Emerson, Maddie Emerson’s sister, who both made impressive debuts against Hermon.
Hannah Richards also has a personal milestone in her sights that she hopes to share with her mom: reaching 1,000 career points.
“I’m around 200 away. That would be a big accomplishment,” she said.