Cony faces one of the taller teams on its schedule when it hosts Mt. Ararat on Friday night. The Rams, who don’t start a player taller than 5-foot-8, have been up and down against bigger teams.
They struggled against Bangor, losing by 18 points, their worst loss of the season. But they got past another tall team in Oxford Hills last Friday in South Paris to cement a spot in the Eastern Maine Class A tournament standings.
“Offensively we played very well,” said Cony coach Karen Magnusson, whose team is 9-6. “That got them a little rattled out of what they normally do.”
The Vikings made a run at the Rams in the second half, but never got the lead in a 46-43 loss. Cony lost 44-41 to Mt. Ararat earlier this season in Topsham.
“Their game is all about their post players,” said Magnusson, citing Mallory Nelson. “Their guards are big, too. Everybody’s big and they all post up.”
The Rams will need a group rebounding effort, although they have the leading rebounder in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference in senior Josie Lee who averages 10.4 a game. Lee may be even smaller than her listed height of 5-8 and weighs no more than 120 pounds.
“She’s gets beat up a lot, but she keeps going at it,” Magnusson said. She doesn’t look big, but she’s got to be stronger than most kids in our league.”
Lee fills all the stat columns, averaging 15.6 points a game and 5.2 asissts. In Tuesday’s win against Lewiston, she had 20 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
“She’s playing like a senior,” Magnusson said. “It’s unreal. She wants to win and she doesn’t care how we win. She doesn’t care if she scores.”
Nelson averages over 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds a game for Mt. Ararat (12-3) while forward Caitlin LaFountain averages 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds. The Eagles also have an excellent 3-point shooter in Kristi Willey.
The Rams not only lack height but also depth. Magnusson usually plays just seven a game. Three-point shooting plays a big part in their offense with Emily and Hayley Quirion and Alyssah Dennett, all capable of hitting from long range. Junior Bayleigh Logan has also come on strong and gives the Rams an inside presence on offense.
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Gardiner (10-4) will try to avenge its worst loss of the season when it hosts Leavitt at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Tigers gave up 34 points to guard Kristen Anderson in their 71-44 loss in Turner in December.
The senior, who will play at the University of New Hampshire next year, leads KVAC B scorers at 27 points a game.
“The last time some of them were deep,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said of Anderson’s shots. “If she’s hitting those shots, there’s not a lot you can do. It’s limiting what the other kids do.”
Anderson has returned to the lineup after missing several games with a sprained ankle. While she was out, Leavitt (12-2) suffered both of its losses.
“Her getting hurt helped them in the long run,” Gray said.
Gray said his team is playing its best basketball of the season right now.
“Our defense is getting better,” he said. “The biggest thing is our transition. We’re running the floor better than we have been.”
Kelly Macomber and Ally Day are rebounding well, which allows the Tigers to score in transition and everyone’s getting into the mix.
“We’ve been getting on some of the guards, Kelsey Moody and Liz Kelley, especially, to run the floor,” Gray said.
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Richmond is 12-2 going into tonight’s game against Greater Portland Christian. The Bobcats will have a chance to avenge one of their losses when they host Class C Old Orchard Beach on Tuesday. They’ve already avenged the other, beating Rangeley earlier this month.
“They’re guard heavy,” Richmond coach Molly Bishop said of Old Orchard. “They’re quick. Our guards don’t get challenged repeatedly.”
The Bobcats lost to OOB 55-48, getting outscored 31-17 in the second half. Jamie Plummer and Ciarra Lancaster scored 18 points each for Richmond which has a height and rebounding advantage. Bishop said her team has improved defensively since and is much more aggressive.
Guards Noell Acord, Payton Johnson and Bri Snedeker have all improved since the start of the season and are providing more support for Plummer who averages 24 points and 10 rebounds a game.
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Oak Hill (8-7) appears in good position to reach the Western Maine Class B tournament. The Raiders are in the 12th and final spot with games against Wiscasset and Monmouth. They start three sophomore and a freshman along with senior point guard Julie Morneault.
“She’s been a really settling factor for us this year,” Oak Hill coach tom Morong said. “The kids look up to her on and off the court.”
The Raiders will have to play without sophomore guard and leading scorer Sadie Goulet who turned her ankle a week ago. She’s expected to miss a week.
“She averages 12 or 13 points a game,” Morong said. “We’ll try to get these points from three or four kids. We play 11 kids a game.”
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At halftime of Messalonskee’s game against visiting Brewer on Tuesday, all of the Messalonskee youth players in attendance went on to the court, where they were joined briefly by the Eagles players and coaches.
After the game, the Eagles players, still in uniform, sat at tables and autographed balls for the younger players.
“We do this every year,” Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby said. “This is our rec. program, and all our travel programs. We do this the next-to-last home game of every year, and the kids love it.”
Derosby added the Eagles practice early every Saturday morning, then the players pair off and coach one of the rec teams.
“So there’s really a good connection with the future of the program, just to try to keep that language and that bond with the little kids,” Derosby said. “They know us. They know me. They come up to these kids all the time. We had more of them here than we did our own students.”
Matt DiiFilippo contributed to this report
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638