Despite going 3-6 in the first half of the season, the Cony boys basketball team remains in the Eastern Maine Class A tournament picture in eighth place.
The Rams could have jumped a few more spots had they not lost at Bangor on Friday night in double overtime. With five seconds left in regulation, they led by three points but turned the ball over and Bangor tied it with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“That was a lot of progress,” Cony coach Tim Bonsant said of the game.
Bonsant has changed his lineup this season several times, lately going with a smaller, quicker lineup, not to mention younger.
“I want to press more,” he said. “It’s mostly sophomores and juniors.
Junior Kevin Kingsbury is seeing a lot more playing time than he did earlier in the season, partially a product of his solid play in the Capital City Hoop Classic over the Christmas break. The 5-foot-9 guard hit a 3 late in the first overtime against Bangor and is a solid defensive player.
“Kevin Kingsbury has really made the most of his opportunities,” Bonsant said.
Junior Mitchell Bonenfant and sophomore Ben Leet are also seeing more playing time while Liam Stokes, another sophomore, is waiting in the wings.
“I’m waiting for Liam to get confidence in games,” Bonsant said. “He’s one of my best practice players.”
Bonsant is also looking for more confidence from his shooters.
“We can’t seem to score right now,” he said. “I think it’s mental.”
The Rams, who have been off all week, resume their schedule tonight at Skowhegan.
“With a good effort, I see a lot of things happening in the second half of the season, positive things,” Bonsant said.
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Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur is starting four sophomores but that doesn’t mean the Ramblers are playing for the future. They’re 5-4 heading into tonight’s home game against unbeaten Dirigo and have played tough against all of their Mountain Valley Conference opponents. The sophomore starters include point guard Taylor Morang, guard Matt Sekerak and forwards Dakota Carter and Ben Allen.
“All of them want to get better and they want to win,” MacArthur said. “They worked their butts off over the summer.”
Morang started as a freshman and continues to improve in every phase of the game.
“He understands he’s surrounded by shooters and his job is to get them the ball,” MacArthur said. “He’s worked a lot on his jump shot.”
Carter has emerged as a scorer and rebounder after coming off the bench last season while Allen has grown several inches since last year and developed into a scorer as well.
“All of sudden his jump shot started to click,” MacArthur said.
Sekerak spent last season on the junior varsity team and has shown as much improvement as anyone on the team.
“His work ethic is impressive,” MacArthur said. “He might be our best defender.”
The height-challenged Ramblers also have 6-foot-3 freshman Anthony Owens coming off the bench while senior Hunter Kilgore is the other starter and the team’s best shooter.
“He’s really starting to step up and play like a senior,” MacArthur said. “We need his leadership, we need his scoring ability and the way he’s playing right now is big for us.”
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Hall-Dale will go as far as seniors Sam Shepherd, Michael Woods and Zac Plummer take the team, but the Bulldogs have a good group of young players, including sophomore starters Brian Allen and Bryson Camp. Nat Crocker and Wesley Lapointe, both sophomores, come off the bench.
Allen, Crocker and Camp played key roles in Hall-Dale’s 58-54 win against Winthrop. Allen finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
“I love the way he approaches the game,” Hall-Dale coach Chris Ranslow said. “He has a fundamental base. What I saw in Allen was a throwback.”
Crocker, who missed preseason and the first few games with a broken wrist, played big minutes against Winthrop because Woods was in foul trouble. He finished with six points and played strong defense against Winthrop point guard Taylor Morang.
“He’s just kind of feeling his way back into it,” Ranslow said. “He’s a lot further along than I thought he would be.”
Camp, who has started three games, did his damage in the fourth quarter when he had two blocks, two steals and all five of his points.
“He was arguably the difference in that game,” Ranslow said. “Hopefully, he’s finding his niche.”
Lapointe contributed in the time he played although he didn’t score.
“Wesley can offensive rebound,” Ranslow said. “(He) can do that better than anyone we put out there.”
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After going 0-18 last season, Oak Hill has bounced back and is 5-4 heading into Saturday’s game against Mountain Valley. A shift this year from the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference’s Class B division to the predominantly Class C Mountain Valley Conference has helped.
“This league has helped us immensely,” second-year coach Tom Smith said. “It’s just a nice attitude right now. Winning changes everything.”
Also of help has been the addition of seniors Trevor Samson and Dalton Burns and junior Luke Washburn, all of whom took last season off.
“They were tired of losing,” Smith said. “This year they just decided they wanted to play.”
All three start, the 5-foot-1 Burns at point guard.
“He’s lightning quick,” Smith said.
Parker Asselin is the team’s leading scorer while Washburn leads the Raiders in rebounding. Samson is close behind in both categories.
“Trevor Samson is just an athlete,” Smith said. “He can do everything.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638