AUGUSTA — It’s usually tough to build off a loss, but in losing to defending Class A state champion Hampden on Friday night, the Cony boys basketball team came away with one thought.
“To a man they said â€˜we can play with them,’ ” Cony coach T.J. Maines said.
The Rams built off that confidence Saturday at the Capital City Hoop Classic against Class C power Dirigo. Cony’s full-court press accounted for 34 Dirigo turnovers that eventually led a 69-52 victory.
Maines alternated groups of five throughout the game which allowed the Rams to pressure the Cougars. They forced 12 turnovers in the first quarter alone but found themselves trailing 18-9.
“It’s unfortunate because I thought we did some good things last night against Hampden and in that first quarter I thought we regressed,” Maines said. “In the second quarter I thought we did some good things. We made that extra pass.”
The Rams outscored the Cougars 28-9 in the second quarter to take a 37-27 lead they never surrendered. They connected on five 3-pointers in the period, one from Ben Leet and two each from Tyler Tardiff and Liam Stokes. Tardiff hit a 3 from the left corner midway through the quarter and Stokes followed with two straight as Cony turned a 22-17 deficit into a 26-22 lead.
“Last game at Hampden we made a lot of progress,” Stokes said. “It was a tough game and we played well. We need to be more consistent, though. We’ll play two really good quarters, then we tail off a little bit. We need to put together a full game.”
Cony played well in the second and fourth quarters while Dirigo stood out in the first and third. The Cougars cut the lead to 52-47 early in the fourth quarter when junior Kaine Hutchins connected on his third 3-pointer. Dirigo had a couple of injuries, including one to starting guard Riley Robinson who hurt his back in a game earlier in the day.
“He’s got to be really hurt not to play,” Dirigo coach Travis Magnusson said. “When we come here we play to win. Every time we come we want to win this tournament.”
The Rams got a nice lift from just about everyone that played. Ben Lucas and Alex Neill were strong off the boards while four players — Lucas (11 points), Mitchell Bonenfant (13), Stokes (12) and Tardiff (16) — scored in double figures. It was Tardiff, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, who gave the Rams some separation in the fourth quarter with 10 points, including a pair of back-breaking 3s from the left corner.
“He’s a smart kid,” Maines said. “He recognizes good shot, bad shot. He rarely takes a bad shot.”
Hutchins and sophomore Clay Swett led the Cougars with 12 points each while Dylan Kidder, the team’s lone senior, scored 10.
“We’re young,” said Magnusson, whose team is 5-0 in its Mountain Valley Conference schedule. “The thing is the whole MVC is young. A lot of the better players are sophomores or juniors.”
CONY 81, WATERVILLE 52: Alex Neill scored 14 points and Liam Stokes added 13 to lead the Rams to the win in the championship game of the Capital City Hoop Classic. Cony jumped out to a 25-13 lead after the first quarter and led 44-27 at the half. Justin Jabar led Waterville with 31 points.
Jabar and Stokes were both named to the all-tournament team along with Boothbay’s John Hepburn, Dirigo’s Kaine Hutchins and Hall-Dale’s Wes Lapointe. Cony’s Tyler Tardiff was named tournament MVP.
CONY 67, BOOTHBAY 53: Ben Lucas scored 16 points and Liam Stokes 12 to lead the Rams past the Seahawks. The Rams put the game away with a 22-11 advantage in the fourth quarter. Boothbay’s John Hepburn led all scorers with 28 points.
HALL-DALE 62, FOREST HILLS 46: Bryson Camp scored 18 points and Nat Crocker added nine to lead the Bulldogs to the win. Hall-Dale pulled away by outscoring the Tigers 27-11 in the second quarter. Brandon Ouellette led Forest Hills with 12 points and Tanner Daigle scored 10.
WATERVILLE 74, FOREST HILLS 58: The Purple Panthers jumped out to a 26-12 first-quarter lead en route to the win. Justin Jabar led the winners with 12 points while Nick Elias and Owen Brown scored 10 apiece. For Forest Hills, Matt Turner scored 17 points while Tanner Daigle and Ryan Petrin scored 13 apiece.
BOOTHBAY 61, DIRIGO 51: John Hepburn scored 22 points and Andrew Hallinan 11 to led the Seahawks to the win. Tyler Frost led the Cougars with 12 points and Riley Robinson scored nine.
WATERVILLE 52, HALL-DALE 36: The Purple Panthers pulled away in the second half, outscoring the Bulldogs 32-18 over the final two quarters. Adam Barre led Waterville with 10 points while Devon Begin and Andrew Godin scored nine each. Wesley Lapoine led Hall-Dale with 12 points and Bryson Camp scored eight.