Neither Cony coach Karen Magnusson nor Bangor coach Katie Herbine is putting much stock in the regular season meeting between their teams on Jan. 4. But the fact remains that Bangor won 64-46 on Cony’s home floor and held a 51-24 advantage in rebounds.
The teams play again tonight for the Eastern Maine Class A championship at the Augusta Civic Center and the thinking is Cony is a much improved team.
“I really look at our season as two halves,” Magnusson said. “We’ve had a much better second half. It just took us some time to get going. I really do think it’s confidence.”
Second-seeded Bangor (16-4) beat No. 7 Skowhegan and No. 3 Mt. Ararat to reach the final while No. 9 Cony (13-7) had a tougher road to the championship game. First it played Brewer in a prelim game and followed that with a 51-35 upset of top-seeded Edward Little. Wednesday, Cony knocked off No. 4 Lawrence.
“I watched that game,” Herbine said. “They work so hard. We just have to be on our game the whole time.”
Bangor holds a decided advantage in height and to some extent experience. The teams starts 6-foot-2 Cordelia Stewart and 6-1 Mary Butler. In the regular season meeting against Cony those two combined for 30 points and 28 rebounds. They also have a three-year starter and outside shooting threat in senior Denae Johnson. Cony’s tallest players are 5-8 senior Josie Lee, a tenacious rebounder for her size, and 5-9 forward Bayleigh Logan.
Their defensive game plan is to double the big players inside without letting Johnson and others get off on the perimeter. On the two bigs, Stewart is more of a conventional low-post player while Butler often plays the high post. Cony also has to worry about Bangor’s defense. Stewart leads the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference in blocked shots at four per game which allows the perimeter defenders to extend their coverage.
“We feel we can pressure more on the guards because we have 6-1 and 6-2 in the middle,” Herbine said. “We have to get out on their shooters.”
Bangor’s size allows the team to run effective full-court and half-court zone presses.
“They have those arms which really makes it tough,” Magnusson said. “There aren’t a lot of high-scoring games with them because they are tough defensively.”
Cony has 3-point shooting threats in Lee, Hayley and Emily Quirion and Alyssah Dennett and all have experience on the Civic Center floor.
“We always play great basketball when we come here,” Magnusson said. “We have our Christmas tournaments here and they play summer ball at times here. You can tell they’re very comfortable shooting and playing here.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638