AUGUSTA — Cony’s quickness and athleticism came to the forefront in the second half Thursday night as they pulled away from rival Erskine.
The Rams ran and pressed and forced the tempo in their favor in posting a 57-45 win against the Eagles in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A game in front of a large holiday crowd at the Ryan Family Gymnasium.
Zack Lachance scored a team-high 15 points while Ben Lucas added 11, but this was truly a team win for Cony (2-3) which got contributions from all 10 players who saw action.
“I thought we got after it in the second half,” Cony coach Tim Bonsant said. “We didn’t quit. We finally hit some shots. Ben Leet hit a big 3 there.”
Leet hit a 3 from the right side just before the third period buzzer sounded to give the Rams a 44-34 lead. They pushed the lead to 12 (52-40) midway through the fourth quarter and never looked back. The Rams employed a 2-2-1 zone press that the Eagles never fully solved.
“Our pressure really bothered them,” said senior Chandler Shostak, who scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds.
Just as important was the defensive job he did on Devin Duncan in the second half. Duncan, Erskine’s 5-foot-6 shooting guard, scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half which ended 24-all. Shostak, who is six inches taller, was the primary defender on Duncan in the second half although he had some help.
“Our goal was to push him to the driving points and have a second man come in and double team him,” Shostak said.
With Duncan out of the mix, the Eagles (0-5) had trouble scoring in the second half. They held a brief 30-28 lead following hoops from Nathaniel Trask and Caleb McGuire, their two big men, but Dayshawn Roberts hit a driving layup, Lachance a spinning jumper and Leet a 3 from the right corner to give the Rams the lead for good. Leet, a sophomore, was a surprise starter, and played well, finishing with six points and four assists.
“Ben Leet played very well. Didn’t turn the ball over very much,” Bonsant said. “As a sophomore I feel really confident with the ball in his hands.”
Roberts finished with seven points and added to the defensive pressure as did Liam Stokes, Kevin Kingsbury and Mitchell Bonenfant while Lucas and Alex Neill helped the Rams control the boards.
“Their pressure bothered us in the second half,” Erskine coach Ben Willoughby said. “We didn’t get the same looks we got in the first half . . . If we can’t come up and get something set up we struggle offensively.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638