Wednesday, April 16, 2014
AUGUSTA — After a couple of demoralizing losses, the Cony boys basketball team finally put together a memorable fourth quarter in beating Brewer on Thursday night.
Trailing by a basket entering the fourth period, the Rams scored 33 points over the final eight minutes to beat the Witches 72-57 in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A game. The win was the first of the season for Cony (1-3) and came on the heels of two fourth-period collapses, one of those a blown 17-point lead.
“Obviously it was frustrating blowing back-to-back leads of double digits,” said senior Ben Lucas, who scored 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. “But Coach (T.J.) Maines did a nice job of instilling confidence in us.”
Maines advocates a high-pressure defense and uptempo offense that has yielded mixed results so far. The Rams committed 19 of their 28 turnovers in the first half as Maines shuffled players on and off the floor.
“We just cut down the turnovers and made foul shots at the end,” Cony senior Mitchell Bonenfant said.
Bonenfant scored a team-high 15 points, including 8 of 8 from the free throw line, But he also contributed to the turnover problem.
“I think we’re just stepping before we dribble,” Bonenfant said. “We had a lot of travels today. He got on me and Liam (Stokes) because we each had four at halftime and we cut them down.”
Bonenfant and Stokes were part of the combination on the floor in the fourth quarter along with Ben Leet (13 points) Lucas and Tyler Tardiff. The Rams also got some key contributions from Charlie Hallak, who hit a big 3 from the right corner to give them a 49-48 lead they never relinquished.
“I thought the kids did a great job,” Maines said. “We were down two going into the fourth quarter and they hit a big 3 and they could have said ‘oh no, here we go again’ ”
Instead they responded, Leet, who scored eight points in the quarter, answered with a 3 from the right corner and cashed a rebound following a pair of free throws by Brewer (1-3) sophomore Matt Pushard (21 points, 10 rebounds). Tardiff followed Hallak’s 3 with a 3-pointer of his own on an inbounds play to put the Rams in the midst of a 14-0 run. Bonenfant hit back to back hoop and Leet capped it with a driving layup to make it 58-48. The Witches twice drew to within seven points, the last time on a layup by Zack Gulesian with a minute, 20 seconds left. Stokes scored five of his 132 points down the stretch and Bonenfant made 4 of 4 from the foul line.
“I was feeling it tonight,” he said.
The Rams forced 14 Brewer turnovers in the first half but couldn’t put anything together offensively in the early going.
“I think it’s playing too fast,” Maines said. “Sometimes a guy sees an opening but it’s too late.”
Cony trailed 12-11 at the end of the first quarter, but came back in the second behind five points and an assist form sophomore Tim Cusick to take a 28-21 lead at the half. Sophomore Logan Rogerson added 12 points for the Witches while teammate Brendan Newcomb scored 11.Gary Hawkins — firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ