AUGUSTA — The Cony girls basketball team struggled shooting from behind the arc early in its Eastern A quarterfinal game Friday night with Brunswick at the Augusta Civic Center.
“It was just a matter of time before we got going,” Cony senior guard Emily Quirion said.
Oh, did the Rams going.
Quirion scored a game-high 27 points, including 17 in the second half, as No. 4 Cony cruised past No. 5 Brunswick 57-35.
The Rams (13-6) will play top-seeded Edward Little or Mt. Blue in a regional semifinal game Wednesday.
Olivia Deeves added 10 points for the Rams, who held the Dragons to just 16 points in the second half.
“We love playing in the Civic Center,” she said. “It’s good to get that first win and get on a little roll.”
Anna Dimick scored 13 points and Lyse Henshaw added 11 for Brunswick (10-9), which hung with Cony for three quarters.
But it was all Cony in the fourth.
The Rams led 35-29 early in the fourth before Quirion changed the complexion of the game with a 4-point play with 5 minutes, 11 seconds left to push the lead into double digits.
Quirion took a pass at the wing and launched a shot as she drew contact from Julia Champagne.
As the ball swished through the net, Quirion pumped her fist while lying on her back by the Cony bench.
“That was the turning point in the game,” Quirion said. “It was exciting. I knew right then we had it. I knew we finally got enough lead and we could hold it until the end.”
The Rams did. The pivotal basket was part of a 12-0 Cony run that put the game out of reach. The Rams made a three 3-pointers in the run, two from Quirion and another from Alyssah Dennett.
“We really try to condition well in practice,” Cony coach Ted Rioux said. “Maybe some tired legs on defense can give us a little space to get some of those the 3-point shots off. We’ve been shooting the three all year long. In the fourth quarter they can separate games real fast.”
Added Deeves: “Once we get that feeling it’s pretty hard to stop us.”
Brunswick coach Sam Farrell said as the Rams heated up his team went the other way.
“Everything seemed there but not in,” he said. “But not for them. We were running what we wanted to run. We just weren’t making any shots. It’s really easy for a team to get hot when you’re not. It seemed to be anti-contagious.
“We weren’t hitting so they felt easier to shoot. Then all of a sudden it compounded and compounded. If you want to win the Civic Center you have to earn the bounces. You have to earn the ball going in.”
There were 10 lead changes in the first half as neither team could get any separation.
Cony then tightened up defensively, with Dennett effectively shutting down the dangerous Champagne.
“We stayed with the same defense,” Rioux said. “It was better execution with the defense in the second half. We rebounded the ball better in the second half. When you rebound the ball, our offense becomes much better.”
The Rams pulled ahead 26-21 when Quirion drove for a layup with 5:25 left in the third quarter. Deeves sank a 12-foot pull-up jumper four minutes later to give Cony a 32-24 lead.
However, Dimick converted a 3-point fly in the final minute to help the Dragons inch closer heading into the fourth.
“We stayed confident,” Quirion said. “We didn’t turn the ball over and we were able to keep possession. And when we needed to hit the shot we did.”