There may not be a more intimidating, entertaining and noisy place to play and watch basketball than Folsom Gymnasium at Lawrence High School.

From the cheerleaders to the talented pep band to the student cheering section known as “The Rowdies,” when an opposing team enters the gym it knows it’s attending an event.

“That is the best (atmosphere) of any gym,” Cony boys coach Tim Bonsant said. “It’s not demeaning cheers, they’re funny. I think they have a distinctive home-court advantage with those Rowdies.”

During the recent vacation, the Rowdies sang Christmas carols when an opposing player was at the foul line. Tuesday night against Cony, they chanted air ball or sang Happy Birthday. They’re overseen by freshman basketball coach Elon Firmage, who’s quick to step in if any chants go out of bounds.

“He’s highly active in the school,” Lawrence athletic director Bill McManus said. “He does an awful lot with our kids and the cheerleaders.”

The band is one of the best in the state, thanks to band director and teacher Lorne Fields, who is a 1983 Lawrence graduate. Fields plays trumpet along with parent Rick Gadway and both men are outstanding. Students form the rest of the group, which includes three percussionists, a flute, an electric bass guitar and three or four more horns.

“Lawrence takes a great deal of pride when they play,” McManus said.

Fields leads the crowd in the school fight song just prior to game-time while school custodian Terry Coley sings the national anthem.

“He sings the majority of national anthems at all our sporting events,” McManus said. “He sings it with vim and vigor. When he hits those high notes you can feel the tingles going down your spine.”

Cony, which came away with a rare win at Lawrence on Tuesday night, seemed invigorated by the atmosphere.

“You’re in for a battle every time you go there and play,” Bonsant said. “If you don’t rise to the level of their intensity you’re going to be in for a long night in that gym.”

• • •

Cony’s 56-50 win against Lawrence was a big one for the Rams (3-6), who vaulted into eighth place in the Eastern Maine Class A tournament standings.

They host a Skowhegan team tonight that is also 3-6 and nearly upset Lawrence in Fairfield a couple of weeks ago.

“They have two very good players in the Barnes kid and the Johnson kid,” Bonsant said of seniors Levi Barnes and Ethan Johnson.

“Our game plan is going to be limiting Barnes from touching the ball because I think he’s the best scorer in the north region. He’s had games of 35 (points) and 30 and we have to limit his touches.”

• • •

Winthrop (1-7) picked up its first win of the season Monday, beating Mt. Abram 51-31.

“This team has stuck together from the get-go,” first-year Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said. “It was nice to get a win to say the hard work paid off.”

MacArthur said the team is beginning to understand his defensive strategy and did a nice job against Mt. Abram senior post player Tyler Hupper.

“We really did a great job of front-side, backside of their big guy,” he said. “We’re really starting to understand rotation.”

Senior Tyler Foster scored a game-high 21 points while junior Hunter Kilgore added 11, but contributions went further. Senior Danny Miles, who hadn’t played basketball for two seasons, is developing into a defensive specialist.

“He took five charges against Mt. Abram,” MacArthur said. “That was pretty much the key to our win the other night.”

Freshman point guard Taylor Morang continues to improve each game.

“He’s a sponge,” MacArthur said. “He’s taking in everything. He wants to be a good basketball player. Right from the get-go the upper classmen have accepted him to run the show.”

MacArthur is also getting some of his other freshmen varsity minutes, including Dakota Carter and Matt Sekerak.

“We are laying the foundation for future success,” he said.

The Ramblers hope to avenge an earlier loss when they play at Monmouth tonight.

• • •

Gardiner’s game against Leavitt scheduled for Thursday night in Gardiner has been postponed until Monday. The Hornets are 8-2 and coming off impressive wins against Camden Hills and Medomak Valley.

“I’ve watched them a bunch of times, Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said. “They’re tough. They shot 11 of 12 behind the 3-point line against Medomak.”

In the interim, the Tigers (8-1) will host Camden Hills (7-2) on Saturday. The defending Class B state champion Windjammers lost two games on the road last week to Leavitt and Winslow.

• • •

Kents Hill resumed practice last week after a 17-day layoff over the Christmas break.

“Coming off 17 days off we were not in shape,” Coach R.J. Jenkins said. “A lot of what we did last week was conditioning.”

The Huskies (3-2) got off to a sluggish start in their game against Brewster Academy on Wednesday but pulled away in the second half for a 71-48 win. Senior guard O’Shea Bell scored 29 points to go over 1,000 for his career.

“He’s quick; he’s relentless,” Jenkins said of the New York City native. “He doesn’t give up.”

Point guard Robin Bodin of Sweden returned to the lineup after missing three games with an ankle sprain and made four 3-pointers.

“He’s still not 100 percent,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins also likes the play of 6-4 senior Cam Dow and 6-2 junior Elijah Roberts, another New York City native.

“He’s so much better than he was two years ago,” Jenkins said of Dow.

The Huskies play a tough opponent today at Berwick Academy, but Jenkins likes what he’s seen of his team.

“I think our team chemistry so far has been much better than last year,” he said.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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