AUGUSTA — Friday night’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A clash between Messalonskee and Cony was a showcase for the Eagles’ James Lathrop in the first half and war of attrition in the second half and overtime.

In a game that saw seven players foul out, the difference was a big offense/defense sequence to end the game by Messalonskee senior guard Kyle LaFreniere to end the game for an 80-79 Eagles victory.

Lathrop finished with a game-high 32 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks, while Nate Violette added 13 points for the Eagles (6-3). Jordan Roddy led the Rams (4-6) with 19 points, while Carter Cleaves added 16 and Nijual Davis 15.

Trailing by one in overtime, LaFreniere attacked the hoop and got fouled to go to the free throw line with 20.8 seconds left, then cooly sank both freebies to put Messalonskee up one.

“I just wanted to take a good shot, so I just drove to the rim, got fouled, hit my two clutch free throws,” LaFreniere said.

Cony set up for the last shot and, according to coach T.J. Maines, called for a timeout with about five seconds left as Cleaves dribbled at the top of the key. The timeout was not granted and Cleaves, with LaFreniere guarding him, was forced to shoot from about 23 feet out. It fell short as the final buzzer sounded.

“We tried to go ball-screen early. (Messalonskee) took it away,” Maines said. “Then we said hold it and at five or six seconds we would get a timeout. At five seconds, I started screaming for a timeout as the ball went away from (Cony’s bench), and they never acknowledged the timeout call. So Carter ended up taking a shot at about two-and-a-half (seconds) coming off the top. For what it was, it was a fine shot, but we could have gotten something better if the timeout had been granted.”

“Jack Bernatchez was on Cleaves, and he did an amazing job, but we switched on a pick-and-roll,” LaFreniere said. “I tried my hardest to just get in front of him and get my hand up, and that’s what I did to contest his shot.”

LaFreniere, who had one point at the end of regulation, was one of several players to step up in the extra session, along with reserves James Kouletsis, who had five of his seven points in overtime, and Cole Wood, who didn’t play until overtime but scored four key points.

“I’m proud of my guys for rising to the occasion, especially having four starters basically on the bench, fouled out,” Messalonskee coach Pete McLaughlin said. “All year long, Kyle LaFreniere has been a big-time senior for us and has executed when it matters most. He’s a heady player. He was in foul trouble from the second quarter on and he played the whole quarter with four fouls and overtime.”

Messalonskee led by 10 heading into the fourth quarter and held off one Cony surge early in the period to maintain that margin midway through the period. But Cony battled back again to tie it with the help of what was essentially a five-point play.

Reid Shostak hit a 3-pointer to pull the Rams within 68-65 with 1:11 to go. Violette was whistled for a foul with the shot in the air. He fouled out and Cony was rewarded the ball. Davis ultimately was fouled and made both free throws to pull the Rams within one.

“The five-point play was massive,” McLaughlin said. “When it comes down to it, you’ve got to execute, and we didn’t at the end of regulation.”

“We didn’t give in. I was really proud of the kids’ effort,” Maines said. “It’s too bad. We needed to make a few more foul shots. And we really didn’t do a very good job getting to Lathrop in the first half and letting him get off. But I really respect the way our kids kept fighting.”

Bernatchez made one of two at the line to make it a two-point game again in regulation, but Cleaves made both of his free throws with 29 seconds remaining to tie it, 69-69. Both teams had two chances to take the lead, but couldn’t convert before heading to overtime.

From the foul line, Messalonskee shot 17-for-28 (61 percent), Cony 23-for-37 (62 percent).

Whether it was the foul line, 3-point line or any other line on the court, Lathrop couldn’t miss in the first half. He scored 10 in the first quarter and 12 in the second as the Eagles opened a 35-27 lead.

“We were kind of rusty in the beginning,” Lathrop said. “I just had to make my shots in order for the team to stay with them.”

The Eagles got Lathrop and, eventually, others involved by breaking Cony’s press for several layups.

“Once we broke the press, we had a two-on-one every time and looked for an open shot,” LaFreniere said.

Both teams had to sit their starters due to foul trouble from the second quarter on. Michaud and Taylor Turner were the first to foul out, within seconds of each other with around three minutes left in regulation. Cony lost Matt Murray later in the quarter and Roddy and T.J. Cusick (10 points) early in overtime.

“It was just one of those things where we had to adjust to the refs and the environment around us,” Lathrop said.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.