AUGUSTA — Just about everything that could have gone wrong for the Cony boys basketball team did in the final 11 seconds of Friday’s Class A matchup against Lawrence. That is until the final play.
That’s when Cony junior Liam Stokes stepped back and drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the circle at the buzzer to give the Rams a dramatic 54-53 win that the Bulldogs appeared to have in hand.
Lawrence (7-6) made a pair of huge inbounds plays down the stretch to take a 53-51 lead, the first when Cole Robinson took the ball out of bounds, got a return pass and knocked down a 3 to tie the game at 51 with 11 seconds left. The Rams called timeout to set up the final play but Lawrence’s Kyle Robinson stole the pass and was fouled going to the basket. The foul was ruled intentional and Robinson made one of two to make it 52-51. The Bulldogs took the ball out and Brad King was fouled and made one of two to put Lawrence up by two with 7.2 seconds left.
The Rams (4-8) struggled to get the ball up the floor and the Bulldogs tipped the ball out of bounds under the Cony basket with .8 seconds left. Coach T.J. Maines called timeout to set up a tying basket. Instead he got a game-winer form Stokes.
“The play wasn’t really set up for me,” Stokes said. “It was a two-point play because they were up two. I was setting a back screen for (Ben) Lucas to roll to the hoop. They both went with Lucas, I popped back and I was wide open. Mitchell (Bonenfant) got it to me.”
Neither team played particularly well — both missed 13 free throws and committed 23 turnovers — but that was overshadowed by an all-out effort from both teams.
“Our kids just don’t have any quit in them,” Lawrence coach Jason Pellerin said. “The game was close and we just couldn’t make that big play to get us over the hump until right at the end. They threw the kitchen sink at us and we responded well. They just happened to have the ball last.”
The game was tied at 26 at the half although it felt as if the Rams should have had the lead after forcing 13 turnovers.
“We missed 11 shots in the paint in the first half,” Maines said.
The second half was dead even as the Rams got into foul trouble and the Bulldogs took control of the boards when the 6-foot-4 Lucas had to go to the bench with his fourth foul. Cony maintained a two to three point lead as Stokes, Ben Leet and Tyler Tardiff each converted some key free throws in the fourth quarter. Lawrence senior Joe Leclair kept his team close with five of his game-high 16 points in the period, but the Bulldogs didn’t tie it until Cole Robinson (six assists) hit his first hoop of the night with 11 seconds left.
“It’s huge,” said Stokes, who finished with a team-high 13 points despite foul trouble. “It was a playoff win. Every game’s a playoff game from now on.”
Bonenfant added 10 points for the Rams who got good minutes form Brandon Elwell (seven points) off the bench. King scored 11 for the Bulldogs.