AUGUSTA — What looked like a runaway midway through the third quarter turned into a pretty tight game as the Cony and Brunswick girls basketball teams squared off in the season opener Friday night.

The visiting Dragons trailed by as many as 20 points in the third quarter but cut it to three in the final period before Cony pulled away down the stretch for a 53-41 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A victory.

Leading 42-39 with just over five minutes left to play, Cony got six points from Josie Lee and four from Melanie Guzman to put the game out of reach.

“We stopped playing defense and they just caught up,” Lee said. “But we managed to get it back together.”

Lee finished with a game-high 13 points to go with seven rebounds. Her steal and layup capped an eight-point run that put the Rams up 49-39 with less than two minutes remaining. The senior guard added a pair of free throws as the Rams outscored the Dragons 12-2 down the stretch.

“It’s our first game of the season so I think both teams were excited,” Cony coach Karen Magnusson said. “But they both had jitters, too.”

The first quarter looked like a season opener as the teams sparred to a 6-6 tie, each getting good shots that wouldn’t fall. The Rams shot just 16 of 51 from the floor (31 percent) and 17 of 31 from the free-throw line, but they didn’t trail from the second quarter on.

“When we needed the baskets, we got them” Magnusson said. “And we got stops when we needed them, too.”

Guzman, who finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds, got the Rams going in the second quarter with four free throws. Emily Sanford (10 points), Julie Arbour and Mia Diplock (10 points, four assists) each connected on 3-pointers as the Rams took a 24-13 lead at the break. They ran the lead to 35-15 midway through the third quarter before the Dragons came to life.

Lauren Carlton and Liz Faulkner (10 points) each hit 3-pointers and Faulkner added a couple of layups to cut the lead to 40-28 at the break. The Rams looked rattled as the Dragons applied a full-court press and outscored them 11-2 to open the fourth quarter. Faulkner’s 3-pointer from the top of the circle cut the lead to 42-39 but the senior forward fouled out on the ensuing play and that took away Brunswick’s momentum.

“There’s a long way to go before the end of the season,” Magnusson said. “A win’s a win. They played hard but my girls came back.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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