December 13, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL: Lawrence too much for Cony

Irving scores 29 points, grabs 21 rebounds in win.

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — Lawrence’s seven-point victory over Skowhegan on opening night prompted lots of questions: Is Lawrence a little worse than people thought? Is Skowhegan a little better than people thought? Is Nia Irving fully healthy?

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by Joe Phelan Cony's Emily Quirion, middle, goes up for shot between Lawrence's Dominique Lewis, left, and Emma Whitney on Friday December 13, 2013 during at game at Cony High School in Augusta.

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by Joe Phelan Lawrence's Dominique Lewis, left, tries to drive past Conys Hayley Quirion on Friday December 13, 2013 during at game at Cony High School in Augusta.

The Bulldogs didn’t play again until Friday night, and then they were facing a Cony team that knocked them out of last season’s Eastern A tournament. Lawrence was definitely primed for this one.

Cony had no answer for Irving, who had a game-high 29 points and 21 rebounds. The Bulldogs led by 16 in the first quarter and by 18 at halftime, and rolled to a 60-42 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A girls basketball victory.

“(Skowhegan) was the first game of the year, and everybody’s saying we’re No. 1 or No. 2 (in Eastern A), and I think the kids didn’t take the game very seriously,” Lawrence coach John Donato said. “I told them after, ‘You can write all the articles in the newspaper you want, but you’ve got to play the game on the floor, and why we were rated high is because we gave a good effort last year. We need to give a better effort this year, because everybody’s out to get us.’ ”

Lawrence (2-0) jumped out to a 15-2 lead, and Cony coach Ted Rioux called his second timeout with 1:32 still to go in the first quarter. The Rams got open 3-point shots in the first half, but couldn’t knock them down. At that point, the Rams were 0-for-10 from long range and 1-for-14 overall. About 40 seconds later, Irving converted a three-point play, and it was 18-2.

“We’ve been waiting about a year for this game,” said Irving, who shot 12 of 19 from the floor. “We knew we wanted to come out hard. We wanted it so bad.”

“We were ready for this game,” Lawrence junior forward Paige Belanger said. “We were definitely clicking as a team, working together.”

Cony (1-2) ended the quarter on an 8-0 run on a basket by Emily Quirion and 3-pointers by Hayley Quirion and Alyssah Dennett. But midway through the second quarter, after a three-point play by Belanger (11 points, 11 rebounds), the Bulldogs were up 30-13. Lawrence point guard Dominque Lewis has apparently added the 30-footer to her list of weapons, and finished with 15 points.

Cony does not have anyone to match up height-wise with Irving, and things got worse when Bayleigh Logan picked up two early fouls and sat the rest of the first half. Irving often simply reached over her defender for an offensive rebound and putback. Irving had broken her ankle in the offseason, but helped the Bulldogs to a 47-17 edge on the boards on Friday.

“I spent a lot of hours in physical therapy, and a lot of hours in the gym,” Irving said. “I got full strength in my leg back, so it’s really exciting.”

Dennett led Cony with 17 points, including four 3-pointers. The Rams were 5-of-11 on 3-pointers in the second half, but never got closer than 17 points.

“We played as well as we could,” Donato said. “But we can play better.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243mdifilippo@centralmaine.comTwitter: @Matt_DiFilippo
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