FAIRFIELD — In a game feeling like one it had to win, the Lawrence High School boys basketball team was never better than when that victory seemed ready to slip away.

Ahead by only two points going into the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs suffocated any hope Cony had of stealing the road win, holding the Rams to three field goals and scoring the first nine points of the final period on the way to a 66-56 victory at Folsom Gymnasium on Friday night.

Mason Cooper’s 20 points led the way for Lawrence (2-6), which earned its second win in three games after a trying 0-5 start to the season.

“We handled it well, we handled the moment well,” said coach Jason Pellerin, who also got 14 points from Brandon Hill and 11 from Nick Robertson. “We had some young guys out there and that was a great team effort. We got contributions from everybody.”

Jordan Roddy scored a game-high 23 points for Cony (3-5), which rallied from a 34-25 halftime deficit with a hot third quarter but shot only 15 percent from the field during the fourth.

“We weren’t making our points and taking it to the rim,” said coach T.J. Maines, whose team managed only 11 free throws to Lawrence’s 30. “Something’s not right with that. I thought they played well. They finished at the rim, we let people get behind us a little bit too much defensively.”

Still, Cony was in a good spot after Roddy’s hurry-up 3-pointer fell in the final second of the third to bring the Rams within two. The momentum didn’t last; Cony missed its first eight shots of the fourth, and by the time Hill laid the ball in after being left alone in the paint with four and a half minutes to go, the Bulldogs were on a 9-0 run that dashed the Rams’ comeback hopes.

“We missed some layups late in the game,” Maines said. “That fourth quarter, early, we still had a chance.”

Those misses were particularly costly, as they robbed Cony of chances to rally and became fast break baskets for an aggressive Lawrence team that added to its margin. Four of the five converted scoring chances of that run — either field goals or trips to the free throw line — were set up by off-target shots.

“I thought we shared the ball better in the second half and kept looking up the court all the time,” Pellerin said. “That was a big thing; we got a lot of points in transition off defensive rebounds.”

Maines tried timeouts, but Cony couldn’t shake the cold streak. Taylor Heath’s 3-pointer, which snapped the Lawrence run, was the Rams’ only field goal for the first 6:35 of the quarter.

Meanwhile, Lawrence shot 3-for-6 from the field and 9-for-14 from the free throw line, and got points from six different players.

“Once they started missing shots and we got stops, we started to get a little flow and a run and really open it up,” Cooper said. “We made free throws down the stretch, which were huge. We got a lot of contributions. Down the stretch in the fourth was great.”

The Rams and Bulldogs battled through an airtight second quarter that featured seven lead changes, but a 1-for-17 result from the 3-point line in the first half for Cony allowed Lawrence to go into the break with the nine-point cushion.

The Rams put the shooting woes behind them in the third, as Roddy and Kolton Vining hit back-to-back threes to trim the gap to three. Cony began the second half with a 13-4 run of its own, capped off by a Jake Dacus jumper that evened the game at 38 with 4:08 to play in the third.

“One thing I love about my group is they don’t quit,” Maines said. “They fought the whole time, and they play the game the right way.”

Lawrence had the answer, with Cooper and Hill converting on consecutive trips down the floor to up the score to 42-38. The Bulldogs’ poise was a growing trend, as the fourth quarter came to reveal, and the Rams didn’t pull even again.

“We had a long way to come back, and you exert a lot of energy getting there,” Maines said. “We got right to that threshold, and … it felt like every time we had an opportunity, we just missed it.”

The Rams will have a different sort of opportunity in the week coming up, with key games against Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference rivals Hampden, Gardiner and Messalonskee providing a chance for them to rediscover their form and make up ground in Class A as well.

“I still think we’ve got a lot of good things ahead of us,” Maines said. “It’s going to become imperative now; you’ve got to start winning games. It can’t be ‘hey, we were close, we were right there.’ “

That’s the sort of encouragement Lawrence had to talk itself into accepting during the five losses to start the season. A win like Friday’s brightens the outlook, though it was far from easy to get — snow limited the Bulldogs to only one practice before a four-point loss to Erskine and just a walk-through for Friday night.

“It’s really a credit to these guys and their effort, and their belief in one other and what we’re trying to do that we got this done tonight,” Pellerin said.

The Bulldogs haven’t climbed out of the hole yet, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that things are beginning to turn around.

“Guys are starting to find their roles and find their niche on the team,” Cooper said. “They’re starting to step into those roles comfortably.”

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