Cony’s basketball season ended abruptly Tuesday night when the Rams lost on the road to Edward Little and the team behind them in the Eastern Maine Class A tournament standings, Lewiston, defeated Mt. Ararat.
The Rams finished at 7-11 under first-year coach T.J. Maines and there are a few games they’d like to have back, including big blown leads in losses to Lawrence and Lewiston and two close losses to Oxford Hills. Still, they were competitive with every team on their schedule with the exception of two games with unbeaten Hampden and a second-half collapse against Messalonskee.
“It was a great learning experience for me and for the kids,” Maines said.
Part of the team’s slow start can be attributed to the absence of several football players who got time off after the state championship game and quarterback Ben Lucas didn’t join the team until the first week of the season. Some of it can be attributed to a new coach and a new system.
“The way I wanted us to play was so different than what we’ve done in the past,” Maines said. “It took some time to get used to.”
Maines pushed an uptempo defensive and offensive style which used a lot of players.
“I thought we did a good job in the full-court, but in the half-court . . .” he said.
Maines said two improvements current and future players need to make are a commitment to individual skill development and a commitment to the weight room.
“That’s the thing that’s lacking,” he said. “We’re looking to develop kids.”
He said community support has been strong from the youngest players to those ready to enter high school.
“We saw a lot of kids at our games this year,” he said. “It’s been great. The thing we’re trying to preach is we’re going to be successful. The people in the community know we’re going to work hard and that we care about it.”
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Kents Hill is on track to qualify for the New England Prep School Athletic Conference playoffs in the Class C division. The Huskies are 6-4 heading into Friday’s home game against New Hampton School. They lost at New Hampton last week by 13 points as the winners drained 13 3-pointers.
“They’re probably the best shooting team we’ve seen in a couple of years,” Kents Hill coach R.J. Jenkins said.
Kents Hill finishes the season against Chase Collegiate, Gould, Dexter School, Hyde of Connecticut and the Brewster Academy B team. The Huskies need to finish among the top eight Class C NEPSAC schools to qualify for the post-season. Four of their five remaining games are league contests.
“It will definitely be competitive the rest of the way,” he said. “(Going) 3-1 would be great. We’d have a real chance to get in.”
The Huskies are strong rebounding team led by 6-foot-3 Nelkas Kwemo.
“He’s really physical and goes after every rebound,” Jenkins said. “Our big guys have been rebounding the ball very well.”
Sophomore Luke Arsenault (Manchester) and senior Luke Dragonetti (Wayne, Cambridge, Mass.) have contributed on the boards while post-grad Trenton SirLouis of Texas has been a strong all-around player. Sophomore point guard Trevor Guity averages five assists a game. For a group of players who don’t play together until the season begins, Jenkins is pleased with their progress.
“This year the chemistry is really good,” he said.
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The times for the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship games are set. The Class B championship game will be on Saturday at Cony High School in Augusta. The Class A game will be on Monday at the Augusta Civic Center. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. Girls KVAC games will be played at 5.
The Class B game will be between Oceanside and Camden Hills. The rivals split a pair of regular season games, with each winning at home. Oceanside took the first meeting, 84-67. The Windjammers earned the split with an 88-83 win in January.
The Class A game will feature Hampden against Brunswick. Hampden won at Brunswick in December, 64-55. The game was just one of two wins by the undefeated Broncos that was decided by less than 10 points.
The Mountain Valley Conference will holds its championship games Monday at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay. The girls will go at 5 and the boys at 7.
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Winthrop will still get a bye to the Western Maine Class C tournament despite a season-ending loss to St. Dominic on Monday night.
“We weren’t at full strength, but as they say, no excuses,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said. “They needed it badly and they responded.”
The win allowed the Saints to squeak into a prelim — for teams seeded five through 13 — while the Ramblers (14-4) will finish third or fourth pending the outcome of tonight’s game between Waynflete and Hyde.
Zach Steele, who is recovering from a foot injury, played limited minutes while junior Matt Sekerak is out for the season after learning he had a torn ACL sustained in a game against Hall-Dale.
“He’s probably got 6-8 months of rehab,” MacArthur said.”If there’s a kid who’s going to put some work into rehab it’s that kid.”