Cony junior varsity coach John Dennett is riding an impressive winning streak of 44 straight games since he took over the job three years ago. If you include Dennett’s 15-0 record as freshman coach, the streak stands at 59 games.

The junior varsity streak extends further than Dennett’s tenure, though. Dave Hopkins ended his 20-year run as girls JV coach with two unbeaten seasons, bringing the streak to 84 games. The last game Hopkins lost was Jan. 25, 2007, against Mt. Ararat. The Rams won the last four games of that season and the following 36 as Hopkins ended his stint on a 40-game win streak.

This year’s team, which includes nine sophomores, doesn’t appear ready to lose any time soon.

“We’ve played everybody at least once,” said Dennett, noting the closest decision was a 16-point win against Hampden. “We kind of wear teams down with that pressure.”

The pressure comes from the full-court man-to-man defense Dennett employs at the behest of varsity coach Karen Magnusson.

“We’ve run the same uptempo style,” Dennett said. “I don’t run as many zone presses as she does.”

Seven of the players on the junior varsity — triplets Emily, Lindsey and Hayley Quirion, Olivia Deeves, Bayleigh Logan, Allyssah Dennett and Abby Wormell — swing up to the varsity and practice with them daily.

“I only have five seniors and two juniors,” Magnusson said. “I swing seven sophomores. Whether they get time with me or not I have to make sure they’re getting in a game.”

Magnusson said Dennett brings a lot of enthusiasm to the game and added “he’s got a great connection with the girls.”

That connection extends as far back as the third grade when Dennett coached all seven on a travel basketball team. That association extended through the eighth grade. He also coached the same group of seven in softball, winning state and New England titles when the were 10-under and a state title at 12-under.

“That group of girls can shoot the lights out,” said Dennett, pointing out the Hayley Quirion made 11 3-pointers combined in two recent games.

Winning at the lower levels has translated to the varsity this season as both teams are 11-0.

“I think it helps teaching the girls to win,” Magnusson said. “When they come (to the varsity) that’s the expectation.”

• • •

Gardiner faces its third big test in as many games Friday night when it hosts unbeaten Nokomis. The Tigers lost their first game of the season at Leavitt last week when Leavitt junior Kristen Anderson scored 38 points and nailed eight 3-pointers.

“It was back and forth,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said of the 78-57 loss. “It was a game of runs.”

The score was tied at 41 in the third quarter when Anderson came alive.

“The next possession Anderson hit a deep 3,” Gray said. “She had six in the second half. They did a great job of running her off screens. The final score didn’t look that close but we gave them a pretty good game.”

Two days later, the Tigers traveled to Camden Hills, which was 9-1 at the time and had recently beaten Leavitt. Gardiner won handily 71-37, showing no hangover from the Leavitt loss.

“We played great against Camden,” Gray said. “The whole intention going in was we had to focus everything we had on (Jordan) Knowlton.”

Knowlton, who scored 30 points in Monday’s loss to Nokomis, finished with just 13 against the Tigers. She was guarded by junior Kelly Macomber who at 6-feet, 1-inch is two or three inches taller.

“We said, ‘Go straight up behind her and let her shoot over you,’ ” Gray said. “She couldn’t get a hand up over Kelly.”

The Tigers (10-1) have been getting offensive contributions from seven or eight different players this season. Against Camden Hills, sophomore Ally Day scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while senior Jenna Moore scored 19 points and recorded seven steals.

Nokomis (10-0) has two excellent scorers in Marissa Shaw and Anna Mackenzie, but like the Tigers they have balance and depth.

“They’re good,” Gray said. “Getting them after having a couple of big games in a row helps. I think the biggest thing for us is going to be rebounding. They come at you in waves and crash the boards.”

• • •

Cony begins a tough three-game stretch Friday at Brunswick. After that, the Rams (11-0) play at Edward Little and host Oxford Hills. They beat the latter two teams by one point earlier in the season.

Since losing 65-64 to Cony in double overtime, Edward Little (9-2) has won nine straight. The Rams are playing well but are not overconfident according to Coach Karen Magnusson.

“I keep telling my kids the league is so even,” Magnusson said. “Our game with Skowhegan was even, we just ended up pulling away.”

The Rams reached the tournament last year at the Augusta Civic Center and lost in the semifinals. They’re virtually assured of returning, but nothing will come easily.

“Once it gets to the Civic Center they’re all going to be extremely tough games,” Magnusson said.

• • •

Winthrop began the season as the youngest and least experienced team in the Mountain Valley Conference. The Ramblers have yet to win a game, but coach Lonney Steeves has seen improvement.

“The attitudes have been great even though the season has been tough,” Steeves said. “I think they see the light at the end of the tunnel. They’re hanging in there to be a part of the turnaround.”

There are currently just 10 girls in the program, including three sophomores and three freshman. Leading scorer and junior Jessica Scott is the only player with previous varsity experience.

“The numbers in middle school are good,” Steeves said. “We’re counting on them to be a part of this next year.”

After playing nine of 10 games on the road during a mid-season stretch, the Ramblers finish their schedule with four games at home, albeit against tough opponents.

“It will be a good test to see where we are at the end of the year,” Steeves said. “We’re taking the right steps to get Winthrop girls basketball back where it was.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]


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