Although Cony lost the Class A girls basketball state championship game to McAuley on Saturday, this season was an important step for the current players. Cony went to eight state finals from 1995 to 2007, but had a losing record as recently as two years ago. Now, this team is part of Cony’s great tradition.

“This year, I think this group believed that they could have a great year together,” said coach Karen Magnusson, whose team went 18-0 in the regular season. “We had a really good summer and, last year, we got to a (regional) semifinal.

“I think they knew we’d be good. I think the community thought we’d be good. But I don’t think anybody thought we’d go undefeated.”

Cony graduates Julie Arbour, Mia Diplock, Bethany Elwell, Melanie Guzman and Heather Leet from this team.

The Rams return two players who were juniors this season and seven who were sophomores.

“They definitely have the experience of getting to that point and cutting down the nets and celebrating, so they’re going to be just as hungry,” Magnusson said. “Honestly, I think getting to the point that we did this year has really set a foundation for the next couple years.”

• • •

Gardiner graduates six seniors from the team that lost the Class B boys basketball state final to Yarmouth on Friday. Coach Jason Cassidy says what he’ll miss most about that group — Alonzo Connor, Matt Hall, Travis Kelley, Justin Lovely, Jake Palmer and Aaron Toman — is its closeness.

“They really, really care about each other,” Cassidy said. “They care about the adults in their lives, including their coaches and parents. If you could pick kids to be in your family, these are the kind of kids you would pick.”

Without those seniors, the Tigers will be underdogs in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B next season, but there are good numbers coming through the system.

“I anticipate next year will be a little bit of a rebuilding year for us, for sure,” Cassidy said. “Our ninth and eighth and seventh and sixth grade classes, there’s really a lot of kids playing basketball, and they’re having success at their level.”

• • •

The Hall-Dale girls, who lost to Central in Saturday’s Class C state final, will also be expected to drop off some after losing five seniors, including three starters, to graduation. But coach Brandon Terrill says he has a great staff with Gordon Fuller, Christen Lachapelle and Kevin Crosman, and he plans on sticking around.

“Right now, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else,” Terrill said.

The Bulldogs won the state title last season and are 39-5 over the last two seasons. One example of the team’s popularity was shown Friday, when they visited the elementary school.

“All of those girls were just ecstatic to see our team,” Terrill said. “We gave every girl a team picture. They all tried to get autographs on the team pictures.

“They’ve really captured the hearts of our community. I think they’ve been role models for another whole generation of girls in our community, who will want to grow up and play basketball for the Lady Bulldogs like their heroes.”

The seniors on this season’s Hall-Dale team were Kristina Buck, Catie Eccleston, Wendy Goldman, Paley Sweet and Carylanne Wolfington.

• • •

Richmond loses only two seniors — Danica Hurley and Lindsy Hoopingarner — from the team that lost to Washburn in Saturday’s Class D girls state final.

“The kids started talking as soon as the game was over about how we attack next year,” coach Molly Bishop said. “They want to run more.”

Rangeley also has a solid team coming back in Western D, and Bishop said her players know winning another regional title won’t be easy.

“They know in their heads that it takes a lot of work to get there,” Bishop said. “They realize that anything can happen. They’ve been there.”

• • •

Forest Hills played in its first Class D boys basketball state championship game Saturday afternoon, losing 83-45 to a loaded Jonesport-Beals team. On the bus ride back to Jackman after the game, the Tigers players — all of whom return next season — were already talking about what they can do to improve for next season.

One thing that came up was a tougher schedule, especially during the summer. The Tigers realize that winning a game by 50 won’t help them against the heavyweights.

“They’re OK with losing, because they understand we’ve got to play better teams to get better,” Forest Hills coach Anthony Amero said.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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