OAKLAND — The Messalonskee High School boys basketball team had a three-point lead over Cony at halftime on Thursday, but the Eagles were less impressed with the fact that they scored 39 points in the half, and more disappointed in that they’d allowed 36.

“Coach (Peter McLaughlin) had a big talk at halftime. We basically looked at each other and said ‘One stop after another,’ and we just locked it down on D,” Messalonskee guard Nate Violette said.

In the second half, a stronger defensive effort, coupled with Cony’s carelessness with the ball, helped the Eagles hold the Rams to 13 points, and Messalonskee pulled away with a 65-49 win. Messalonskee improved to 8-3 and jumped to third place in the Class A North standings, while Cony is now 5-7.

“In the first half, I think (Cony) did a lot of things to get to seams. We were just kind of confused as to what we wanted to do,” McLaughlin said. “At halftime, we talked about getting back to our principles, locking it down on the perimeter and getting to helpside and getting rotations. When we do that, we play very, very well.”

Cony turned the ball over 10 times in the third quarter, 17 times in the second half, and coach TJ Maines felt his team’s offensive woes came less from Messalonskee’s defense and more from his team’s sloppiness.

“I thought we were careless with the basketball. We got five stops the first five possessions (of the second half) defensively, and we got two shots up. That just can’t happen, not against a good team,” Maines said.

The Eagles led 49-42 after three quarters, and pulled away with a 9-0 run to start the fourth. A James Lathrop free throw with 5:01 to play gave Messalonskee a 58-42 lead.

While Messalonskee struggled at times against Cony’s pressure, by and large the Eagles were able to get the ball up the court and into their offense. Messalonskee shot well from the perimeter, with Violette making three of the team’s six 3-pointers while scoring a game-high 24 points. In the paint, Lathrop added 14 points.

“They get you out of your comfort zone, with their traps and presses. They go from zone press fullcourt to halfcourt man, and you’re in your secondary break, and as you get through that, you’ve got a guy standing there because he rotated over. We just had to slow down,” McLaughlin said.

The first half was played at a furious pace, with each team running the court and getting quick shots. Cony led 35-34 with 2:17 to play in the first half when Jordan Roddy sank a 15-foot jumper. Messalonskee took the lead for good on a Taylor Turner basket with 1:52 left in the half.

“We get up and down like that a lot in practice. We play a hectic game in practice, so it wasn’t anything unusual,” Violette said.

After scoring 13 points in the first half, including 11 in the second quarter, Roddy was held to just a pair of fourth quarter free throws and finished with 15 points to lead the Rams.

“I thought we made some poor decisions. We got the ball to the rim, and guys were trying to draw contact instead of just playing,” Maines said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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