AUGUSTA — The Cony High School boys basketball team was reeling. A comfortable double-digit cushion over Gardiner had been whittled down to a single point with a minute and a half to go, and after the Rams missed their fourth straight shot, coach T.J. Maines decided he’d seen enough. He called timeout and walked toward his team, motioning downward repeatedly with his hands.

The message was clear: Relax.

“I just wanted to settle them a little bit,” he said. “I like to hoard my timeouts, so I don’t use them quite as much as I should. … Ed Worcester, my assistant, was like ‘Timeout, timeout, timeout,’ in my ear the whole time, so we called it. It ended up being a good decision.”

The results suggested as much. Austin Parlin hit a backbreaking 3-pointer out of the break, helping to salvage a shining performance from Jordan Roddy and lift the Rams to a 60-55 victory over the Tigers on Friday night.

As the final seconds ticked off, Cony’s bench players raced onto the court, celebrating with the excitement normally reserved for a playoff win. It may have only been a mid-December contest, but according to Maines, the Rams (1-2) couldn’t let this one slip away.

“We needed it,” he said. “I knew we were going to play better tonight. It was exciting.”

The opponent mattered too. Gardiner swept Cony last season in a pair of games decided by a single basket, the first victory coming after erasing a commanding Rams lead.

“It feels great,” said Roddy, who scored a game-high 27 points with five rebounds. “Getting this win, especially against Gardiner, that’s going to lift us up a lot.”

Cony seemed on its way to reversing its fortunes in style, up 15 points with under six minutes to go in the third quarter, but the Tigers (2-1) again went to work trying to break Ram hearts. Led by Connor McGuire, who scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half, Gardiner narrowed the gap to four points at 48-44 by the end of the third, then pulled within one with 2:04 to go after McGuire (nine rebounds) took a long pass from Luke Stevens after a rebound, drew a foul while scoring in transition and knocked down the free throw to make it 54-53.

Cony missed its next shot but got the rebound, prompting Maines to call the timeout with 1:38 to go. The theme of the powwow was poise, and Roddy said the message got through to his teammates.

“We have to stay calm, even when stuff like that happens,” Roddy said. “You just have to keep playing, we know that.”

There was still the message of execution, which Parlin (11 points) had covered. The junior guard got a pass in the left corner and knocked down the shot, putting Cony up 57-53 and damaging Gardiner’s rally hopes.

“I wasn’t nervous at all. I’m used to those shots, and they kind of go to me because I’m the primary shooter for our group,” Parlin said. “It was awesome, I loved it. When it went in, the look on their faces, they were down.”

“I don’t think he cares (about pressure),” Maines said. “Literally, his confidence is through the roof shooting a basketball, and it should be.”

Gardiner answered right back on a McGuire basket, but had to foul, missing a chance to regain the ball with a shot to tie after the rebound of a missed Simon McCormick free throw went to Roddy. Gardiner had to foul again, and this time McCormick knocked down both shots with 29 seconds left to ice it.

“I think there are some real positives for us,” said coach Jason Cassidy, whose team was without Isaiah Magee and Kyle Johnson. “Obviously, they were going to come loaded for bear after two games. … I’m excited that we came back and fought and put ourselves in a chance where we could have got a win.”

The Tigers looked out of sorts during a first half in which Cony, behind 19 points from Roddy, grabbed a 32-18 lead by the break. Gardiner got a 3-pointer from Gavin McArthur and then a three-point play from the freshman, which became a five-point sequence after Cony’s Amahde Carter (11 points, seven rebounds) was called for a technical when he grabbed the rim looking to challenge the shot.

The five points made it a 38-31 game, and both coaches knew that, once again, Cony-Gardiner was going down to the wire.

“That was a scary moment,” Maines said.

The Rams kept the game from getting away, however, thanks to the performances of players like Parlin, Carter and Roddy, who helped Cony hold off Gardiner both by scoring and guiding the offense with a steady hand.

“He’s (Roddy) an amazing player,” Parlin said.

McArthur scored nine points for Gardiner, all in the third quarter, while he and Ben Shaw had four rebounds. Bryan Stratton had six rebounds for Cony.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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