January 1, 2013

TOP 10 SPORTS STORIES OF 2012

By Gary Hawkins ghawkins@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Cony football coach Robby Vachon knew he had a team full of potential when training camp opened in August. It didn't take long for that potential to be realized.

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Photo illustration by Sharon Wood and Scott Martin

TOP 10 SPORTS STORIES OF 2012

1. Cony football’s outstanding season
2. Bank of Maine Ice Vault opens
3. Cony girls basketball wins Eastern A title
4. Gardiner boys basketball wins Eastern B title
5. Wes Littlefield saga
6. Football four-class proposal moves forward
7. Cony softball wins Class A title
8. Richmond girls enjoy big year
9. Hall-Dale girls basketball wins second straight West C title
10. Hall-Dale boys soccer wins West C title

Cony enjoyed its best season in 20 years, finishing 8-3 and reaching the Pine Tree Conference Class A championship game. Their ride to the PTC A final is the Kennebec Journal's top sports story of the year.

The Rams beat Brunswick 21-20 in the PTC A semifinals before losing a 20-10 heartbreaker to Lawrence in the final at Keyes Field

"I'm still not quite over the Lawrence game," Vachon said. "But it doesn't take anything away with what we accomplished. It doesn't take away with how we played or prepared for the season. It will go down as one of the better ones in the history of Cony football."

The Rams lost their season opener to Messalonskee before reeling off five consecutive victories. They knocked off longtime nemesis Bangor during the streak.

"Bangor, we hadn't beat them since I've been here," said Vachon, who was in his sixth season as coach. "They were great wins."

The Rams closed the regular season with convincing wins over Lewiston and Oxford Hills that earned them the second seed in the PTC A playoffs.

Cony won a thriller over Brunswick before giving top-seeded Lawrence all it could handle in the regional final.

The Rams led the Bulldogs 10-3 at the half and forced five Lawrence turnovers. Still, it wasn't enough as Lawrence scored two second-half touchdowns to pull out the win.

"We were one half away for playing for the state championship," Vachon said. "It really was a great season. We had a lot of special individual performances as well."

Wide receiver Chandler Shostak caught 58 passes for 853 yards and 12 touchdowns -- all single-season school records and was named a finalist for the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy. Junior quarterback Ben Lucas threw 29 touchdown passes, also a school record.

"We played in front of a lot of great crowds and that's a tribute to the kids and the staff," Vachon said. "It was a special season."

2. Bank of Maine Ice Vault opens

The concession area was still under construction and other parts of the arena weren't quite finished, but on July 8 the $4 million Bank of Maine Ice Vault opened to the public.

Opening day came about four months after a groundbreaking ceremony in early February.

The Vault was built where the Kennebec Ice Arena once stood. KIA, which had opened in 1973, collapsed under the weight of heavy snow and ice on March 2, 2011.

Figure skater Laura Blackstone, an Augusta native, was among the first skaters to test the new ice surface.

"It's amazing," she said that day. "It really is. This whole place ... is amazing. It's clean. It smells better in the locker rooms. It's aesthetically pleasing. I just can't get over how pristine it is."

3. Cony girls basketball win East title

The Cony girls basketball team went unbeaten during the regular season, won the Eastern Maine title and returned to the state championship game for the first time since 2007.

The Rams used a combination of aggressive defense and 3-point shooting to capture their 12th Eastern Maine championship. Like many of the Rams' wins during the regular season, this one didn't come easily as they rallied from 15 points back to defeat Edward Little for the championship.

They lost to an unbeaten juggernaught in the state championship game, falling to a McAuley team that featured two 6-foot-2 starters, 54-51. Still, the Rams finished at 21-1, the best season ever for fourth-year coach Karen Magnusson. Cony senior Mia Diplock was among three finalists in the state nominated for Miss Maine Basketball.

(Continued on page 2)

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