AUGUSTA — Josie Lee never appears tired, discouraged or frustrated.
The Cony High School senior has reason to be all three this season as she’s logged a ton of minutes for the Rams who are struggling to stay in the Eastern Maine Class A tournament picture.
They took a giant step toward reaching the tournament Monday and Lee had a lot to do with it as she scored 28 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and drew an offensive foul with the game on the line to lead the Rams to a 60-59 win over top-ranked Edward Little.
Cony (7-6) entered the game one spot away from a tournament berth and gained valuable points by knocking off the Red Eddies (10-3).
“(Before the game) we talked about how we had nothing to lose and they were all going to be confident,” said Cony junior Emily Quirion, who added 21 points. “So we might as well go out and give it all we have.”
The Rams, who lost two games by a point in the last two weeks, led by as many as seven points but couldn’t shake the Eddies, who relied on the 3-point shooting of senior Ashlee Arnold (19 points) and drives to the basket from junior Kory Norcross (13 points).
Norcross completed a three-point play with just under two minutes to play to make it 60-59. The Rams tried holding onto the ball but couldn’t make their free throws and the Eddies couldn’t buy a basket.
With seven seconds left, the Eddies grabbed a rebound of a missed free throw and called timeout. Arnold got the ball and as she dribbled up the right sideline, Lee stepped in front of her and drew an offensive foul.
“I think it was pretty close,” Lee said.
Edward Little coach Craig Jipson thought the officials got it wrong and said so after the game.
“They played great,” Jipson said. “They were inspired, Lee’s a great player, Karen (Magnusson’s) one of the best coaches in the league. I can’t understand that being called a charge for the life of me . . . The definition of a charge is to take it in the chest. She clearly took it in the hip.”
The teams traded baskets throughout a fast-paced first half that saw eight ties and four lead changes. Arnold scored 12 of her 19 points in the half but the Eddies still trailed 33-30 at intermission. Haley Quirion and Alyssah Dennett opened the third quarter with 3-pointers for the Rams, who extended their lead to 39-32. But Arnold hit a pair of long 3s from the left side to keep it close and the Eddies took a 51-49 lead early in the fourth quarter on two free throws from Norcross.
With the game tied at 56, Lee scored on a drive to the basket and hit two free throws to give the Rams the lead for good.
“Out of anybody in the state, I don’t think I’ve seen a guard who can play point guard, defend the post and rebound like she does,” Magnusson said of Lee. “It’s talent, it’s hard work, but it’s absolute heart.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638