Under coach Karen Magnusson, the Cony girls have followed a pattern: Inevitably, they’re a much better team later in the season than in the beginning.
So it was hardly an upset when the ninth-seeded Rams defeated No. 1 Edward Little on Friday. The Rams will now take on another surging team, No. 4 Lawrence, in the Eastern A girls basketball semifinals at 4 p.m., Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center.
“We now seem to be pulling away a little bit more in the end, and finishing out games,” Magnusson said. “So I think we have a little bit more confidence going into Lawrence this time around than we did the first time.”
Lawrence, which has no seniors and two of the best freshmen in the state in center Nia Irving and point guard Dominique Lewis, is playing like a team that doesn’t want to wait for its success. Irving scored 28 points and Lewis had 18 as the Bulldogs defeated Mt. Blue on Friday.
“(Nia’s) one of the best freshmen that I think has come through the state,” Magnusson said. “She’s got size. She’s got great knowledge of where help side’s coming from, so she can go back, she can go left, she can go right.
“But it’s not just her. They’ve got (Paige Belanger) who’s a solid, solid player, and their point guard. They’ve got all the parts, so we’ve got to make sure that we rebound.”
Lawrence edged Cony 51-50 in Fairfield on Jan. 8, as Lewis sunk a 3-pointer with two seconds left. Josie Lee led Cony with 18 points and nine rebounds.
“It was a back and forth game the whole time,” Lawrence coach John Donato said. “We’ve got to do a better job defending the 3 than we have in the past. We’ve got to hold our composure against their pressure.”
Wednesday’s other semifinal is at 2:30 p.m., and has No. 2 Bangor facing No. 3 Mt. Ararat. Both are coming off relatively easy first-round wins. Mt. Ararat eliminated Oxford Hills and Bangor pulled away from Skowhegan. Mt. Ararat is led by Mallory Nelson, while Bangor counters with talented 6-footers Mary Butler and Cordelia Stewart.
“They are definitely tall, and have long, athletic arms,” Mt. Ararat coach Kelly LaFountain said of Bangor. “They’re very strong on the boards. They’ve got a quick guard (Denae Johnson) — which I knew, but I just hadn’t seen them (before Friday). It’s definitely going to be a height thing for us. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243