CHINA — The Cony boys basketball team couldn’t make a shot. Try after try, for quarter after quarter, bounced off of rims. Off of backboards. Grazed nets. Sailed through nothing but air.

And then, with the game in the balance, the Rams couldn’t miss.

Cony buried six 3-pointers to account for all but one of its fourth-quarter points en route to a 42-40 victory over Erskine Academy, snatching a win in a game that started slowly, only to turn into a race to the finish.

“Their defense gave us a problem. I thought we still had good looks, we just didn’t make them,” Cony coach T.J. Maines said. “I’m proud of our guys for kind of sticking with what they do. … It would have been really easy for them to cave in, be super negative and quit on the defensive end because they weren’t making shots. They didn’t do that.”

The Rams (9-9) had only hit one 3-pointer on a whopping 30 attempts when they went into the third quarter tied at 23, but the fourth quarter brought a reversal of fortune as the shots that had drifted left, right, long and short of the basket began to hone in.

Taylor Heath hit a three early in the period, putting Cony up for the first time in the second half and sparking a bench reaction borne as much out of relief as joy.

“The bench erupted,” Maines said. “In that third quarter, two of them were in, spinning around and popping out. You’re like ‘How in the world is that not going in?’ ”

The makes kept coming, however. Simon McCormick hit one. Heath buried another, Austin Parlin splashed a couple, and Nate Parlin’s 3-pointer with 2:47 to go put the Rams ahead 41-37.

“Once Taylor hit one, Austin hit a couple, Simon hit a big one, it got us going a little bit,” said Maines, whose team hit six of 12 3-pointers in the fourth. “That was great to see.”

Cony’s long-range success didn’t translate to the free-throw line, however, as the Rams went 1-for-9 to provide the Eagles (8-10) a window to rally. Jack Jowett scored nine of his 15 points in the quarter to keep Erskine close, and Braden Soule (nine points) canned a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left to bring the Eagles within one.

They didn’t get closer, as Cony missed three of four free throws in the final 10 seconds but grabbed two offensive rebounds to seal the win. Heath led the way for the Rams with eight points.

“I just think they wanted it more. They beat us on the boards, we had 22 turnovers today,” Erskine coach Tim Bonsant said. “Great atmosphere. They made shots when they had to, and we didn’t rebound.”

Bonsant did express pride in his team for weathering the Cony storm to take the game into the final seconds.

“To take a punch like that as sophomores and come back and not be that riled up, I was very pleased to see that,” he said.

Both teams struggled to find their rhythms in the first half, heading into the locker room tied at 17. Cony struck first by notching the first six points of the game, the last two coming when Amahde Carter grabbed a rebound, outraced the retreating Erskine defense and threw down a dunk. The play landed Carter a technical foul for hanging on the rim, but also ignited his teammates and the Cony fan contingent that made it to China.

Cony built the lead to 17-11 midway through the second, but Erskine pulled even with a 6-0 run. Noah Bonsant (nine points, 14 rebounds) drove through the Rams defense, hoisted a shot off the backboard and was fouled in the process, earning him a chance for a 3-point play when the shot fell. The junior center hit the follow-up shot, and a pair of Soule free throws and another Bonsant shot from the stripe allowed the Eagles to square the score in time for the break.

The close play continued in the third, with Erskine scoring the first four points of the period, but Cony pulling even on baskets from Jordan Roddy and Bryan Stratton.

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