AUGUSTA — Had the season ended after last week, the Cony High School boys basketball team would have been on the outside of the Class A North playoffs looking in, occupants of the ninth seed in the standings and the last spot getting cut.

No matter. Coach T.J. Maines likes the way his team has been playing. Against Gardiner on Monday night, the Rams demonstrated why.

Jordan Roddy scored 28 points and Cony held off its top rival, beating the Tigers, 69-62, at the Augusta Civic Center. The teams are headed in opposite directions; the revitalized Rams — the road team in their own backyard — won their fourth straight game and improved to 9-5, while Gardiner dropped its fifth straight and fell to 6-8.

“It was a big game, huge game, and it’s great that we were able to hold it together,” said Roddy, whose team climbed into the region’s top eight with the victory. “Especially playing here. We consider this our home court. If you never lose a game here, you’re (A North) champions.”

The game didn’t have the furious finish belonging to the teams’ previous three matchups, each of which was a one-possession game within the final two minutes, but Maines said he still knew the win wasn’t in hand until time had safely expired.

“There were still palpitations. … We had to make plays at the end to win the game, they didn’t give it to us,” he said. “We’ve won four now in a row, and we’re playing better basketball now than we have been all year.”

Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said he liked the effort he saw from his team, but acknowledged that the Tigers could be in danger of falling out of the playoff picture if they don’t turn some of the oh-so-closes into victories.

“If we’d have had this effort a few games ago, I think we win a couple of those games we played,” he said. “We can’t backdoor into the tournament. We’ve got to go get some wins.”

The Tigers had chances, but their wounds were largely self-inflicted. Gardiner shot 61 percent from the field — and 76 percent in the first half — but was burned by 29 turnovers that resulted in the Tigers taking 15 fewer shots than the Rams.

“They executed their defense really well, and we did turn the ball over an awful lot,” Cassidy said. “I think sometimes we’ve got to make an extra pass here and there.”

And still, Gardiner was in position to grab the elusive victory down only 36-34 at halftime, but Cony seized momentum and then blocked each attempt from the Tigers to reclaim it. Gardiner pulled within one at 38-37, only for Simon McCormick (17 points) to lead a 10-1 Cony run with two 3-pointers and a jumper that made it 48-38 with 3:06 left in the third.

The Tigers struck back with an 8-0 run of their own on 3-pointers from Cole Lawrence and Kyle Johnson and a basket by Ben Shaw, but Cony extended the lead to 51-46 by the end of the third, then got a pair of tricky jumpers early in the fourth from Roddy and a 3-pointer from Brian Stratton (10 points) en route to opening its biggest advantage at 59-48 with 4:38 to play.

Gardiner got a 3-pointer from Johnson to make it 59-51 on the next series, but 6-for-6 shooting from the free-throw line from Roddy down the stretch prevented a Tiger comeback and gave Cony the season sweep a year after Gardiner took both matchups.

“Obviously the most important part is they were ahead of us, it’s a big game, we needed the win,” Roddy said. “But of course, it’s great to beat Gardiner.”

Shaw led Gardiner with 15 points, while Connor McGuire had 14, Luke Stevens had eight and Johnson had nine despite foul trouble that saw him forced out with 2:14 to play.

Austin Parlin added eight points for Cony, which got all but two of its 33 points in the second half from either Roddy, McCormick or Stratton.

“I was really proud of them, proud of the effort,” Maines said. “Getting to play here is fantastic. It’s what we told the kids, this is ours. This is Augusta, Maine. This where we’re from, this is our court, I don’t care if it’s their home game. That’s the attitude that we have to have. We don’t want to lose in this gym in 2018.”

Cony is back in the playoff picture, but Maines knows that the Rams will need to keep up their form to stay there.

“I’m still not convinced. If we don’t play well here, we’re still not getting in,” he said. “Nothing’s a done deal yet, but this certainly helps.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM