OAKLAND — With his team trailing Cony by five points, Messalonskee boys basketball coach Peter McLaughlin said he didn’t raise his voice when addressing the Eagles at halftime. Senior guard Nate Violette chuckled at the notion that McLauglin was cool and calm during the break.

“(McLaughlin) might say that, but we all knew where he was coming from. We got the message clear enough,” Violette said. “The first half, we didn’t quite stick to the game plan, so we kind of got chewed at halftime. To beat Cony, you’ve got to stick to your defensive principles.”

The Eagles trailed by seven points twice in the second half, including early in the fourth quarter. But greater defensive intensity and a patient approach to offense led Messalonskee to rally back to take a 53-49 win.

Messalonskee improved to 7-3. Cony is now 4-7.

“I was really calm. There’s other games, I’ll be honest with you, I get animated. In this situation, it was more of, ‘Guys, listen. We know what we need to do. We’re not reinventing the wheel,'” McLaughlin said. “Today wasn’t the day to lose my mind.”

Cony’s Nate Parlin hit a layup 44 seconds into the fourth quarter to give the Rams a 45-38 lead. Cony didn’t score again until the 2:24 mark, but in between, Messalonskee went on an 11-0 run to take the lead for good. Griffin Tuttle’s layup with 5:13 left gave the Eagles a 46-45 lead.

“We knew if we just stayed composed, and didn’t take the first open shot, but the best shot each possession, we knew we’d get the W,” Violette, who scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the second half, said.

“They did a nice job defensively. They ratcheted up their pressure a little bit on the ball and the passing lanes,” Cony coach T.J. Maines said. “We didn’t play well enough at the end to win. That’s all it is.”

Trailing 14-12 after one quarter, Cony went on a second quarter run, leading 29-20 when Austin Parlin made a 3-pointer with 3:09 left in the half. The Rams’ defensive pressure, coupled with fast play and great ball movement on the offensive end, caused trouble for the Eagles, McLaughlin said.

“I think their pressure got to us a little bit early. We were so focused on what we needed to do against their pressure, we weren’t really focused on what we needed to be doing to take away the things they wanted to do,” McLaughlin said. “I thought (Jordan) Roddy, (Austin) Parlin, several of those guys were really getting to the seams and getting that middle penetration.”

Roddy led the Rams with 15 points, 10 coming in the first half. Austin Parlin scored nine of his 14 points in the first half. After picking up his third foul late in the second quarter, Roddy had to play a little more conservatively in the second half at the defensive end.

“In the second half, I thought our communication was much better on the perimeter to really prevent Roddy from getting that penetration. I know foul trouble kind of got to him, too,” McLaughlin said.

James Kouletsis grabbed nine rebounds for Messalonskee. James Hunt had nine boards for Cony.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM