February 22, 2013

EASTERN A GIRLS BASKETBALL: Bangor ends Cony's run

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- Cony got the shots it wanted. The Rams got the right people in foul trouble. They had momentum, and they were playing in their backyard.

Still, Bangor had 6-foot-1 Mary Butler and 6-foot-2 Cordelia Stewart. And when Cony's shots didn't fall, the rebounds went where you'd expect them to go.

No. 2 Bangor out-rebounded ninth-seeded Cony by 25, and pretty much decided the game with a second-quarter run. Bangor won its first Eastern A girls basketball title since 1982, defeating Cony, 57-43, on Friday night at the Augusta Civic Center.

"Bangor's a very, very good team," Cony coach Karen Magnusson said. "They rebounded well. I'm not sure what the margin was, but I know there was a margin."

"For Cony, their tallest kid is 5-8," Bangor coach Katie Herbine said, "and I think that's definitely a tough task to try to rebound against 6-1 and 6-2."

The final totals were 54 rebounds for Bangor and 29 for Cony. Stewart had 13 rebounds, Butler grabbed 11, and in the real crusher, 5-5 point guard Denae Johnson hauled in 14 rebounds. Cony's top rebounder was 5-8 Josie Lee, with eight.

Bangor used that height advantage to lead 12-2 less than five minutes into the game. When Bangor missed a shot, Stewart or Butler was there for a putback — unless one or the other took the first shot and got a layup.

Cony got as close as 13-11 on a 3-pointer by Alyssah Dennett with 58 seconds to go in the first quarter. The underdogs got even more momentum when Butler picked up her second foul 20 seconds into the second quarter, and Emily Quirion drew Butler's third foul with 6:30 left in the half.

At that point, Bangor led 15-12. Herbine gambled by getting Stewart (who had two fouls herself) back off the bench shortly after. After Butler's third foul, Bangor outscored Cony, 16-4 the rest of the half to lead 31-16 at the break.

"That was something that we focused on," Magnusson said. "We knew we had to try to get them in foul trouble. We tried to attack them quite a bit. When that happened, we didn't get to go on our run that we wanted to go on at that point — which proves that they're more than just those two post players."

Cony had trailed Edward Little by 11 points in last year's regional final before rallying for a memorable victory. With a hyperactive full-court press, Cony scratched back within 11 on three separate occasions in the third quarter, but got no closer.

"We know we needed to cause turnovers to get some points going our way," Magnusson said. "We started getting it, but it wasn't enough. We'd make a run, and they'd make a run back. That's what good teams do."

Cony finished the game shooting 16 of 68, or 24 percent. Lee had 15 points and had a lot of shots get bad rolls off the rim. Stewart had 18 points for Bangor.

While last winter's Cony team went undefeated in the regular season and was the favorite in the Eastern A tournament. This year, Cony had to win a preliminary round game on the road just to get to the Civic Center, then knocked off the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds.

"We have to be proud," Magnusson said. "They weren't out there just running around. They worked really, really hard. Anyone that watched them would have appreciated the type of games that they played here at the Civic Center."

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

click image to enlarge

Bangor's Denae Johnson, left, battles for the ball with Cony's Alyssah Dennett, center, during the Eastern Class A championship game Friday at the Augusta Civic Center. Bangor derailed Cony's bid for a second straight regional title, winning 57-43.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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