Cony golf coach Shawn Johnson had seen the improvement all season. He was just hoping it was going to continue when the Rams needed it most.

But even he was surprised by what he got from his players on Thursday.

Cony saved its best performance of the season for its postseason opener, beating Lawrence 7-2 at Natanis Golf Course in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference quarterfinal match. Cony, the third seed, will next take on second-seed Messalonskee at Belgrade Lakes in the Class A semifinals Monday, while top-seed Hampden will play the winner of the Brewer and Bangor match.

“Our goal was to steadily get better and better each match, and I just haven’t been as proud of a group of kids as I’ve been with these kids,” said Johnson, whose team’s total of 177 strokes was its best of the season and just enough to beat Lawrence’s 181. “It’s been so long since we’ve had a playoff, let alone a home playoff, and to win it, it feels great. It was close, we had to earn it. It wasn’t a gimmie. It was an earned win.”

In the Class B quarterfinals, No. 3 Nokomis beat No. 6 Maranacook 9-0 at Palmyra Golf Course, while No. 5 MCI defeated No. 4 Erskine, 6-3, at Natanis. Nokomis will face No. 2 Waterville in the semifinals, while the Huskies will get top-seed Gardiner.

Cony got its win while seeing all players break 50 for the first time. Alex Stewart lost to Lawrence’s Matt Brown 5 and 4 in the first match, but Ben Lapierre defeated Jake Suttie 2 and 1 in the second, Quincy Tobias defeated Nick Grard 2-up in the third, Kyle Douin beat Michaela Huey 4 and 3 in the fifth and Connor Albison beat Alan Bourget 3 and 2 in the sixth.

“I’d like to say that I knew this was going to happen, but I didn’t. I hoped it would happen,” Johnson said. “It’s the first time we’ve been in the playoffs for a bit, and they came to play today.”

Even players that lost, like Stewart and Bobby Stolt, who lost to Chris Dow 1-up in the fourth match, factored in the win. Stolt fell behind but kept playing well enough to card a 46 that was included in Cony’s total, while Stewart hung in against a dominant Brown to shoot a 45 that also made it into Cony’s 177.

By beating Lawrence’s shot total, Cony got three points that provided the winning margin.

“It was a total team contribution from everybody,” Johnson said. “They just didn’t give up, because they knew how important it was for the team.”

Nokomis was dominant in punching its ticket to the semifinals. The Warriors’ top six of Sam Smested, Lindsey Cote, Grady Berry, Jacob Hawthorne, Shane Shorette and Isaac Klein swept their matches, and Cote was the medalist, firing a 41 that edged No. 1 Smested’s 43 for the low figure.

Corbin Howe had Maranacook’s best round with a 51 in the top match.

“The top two are always solid. … It’s as strong a top two as I think there is in the KVAC,” coach Matt Brown said. “(Cote) put some extra work in on the range, and it really showed today. She put it all together.”

Brown was equally impressed by Berry and Hawthorne in the third and fourth matches, who harnessed the flashes of talent they had shown throughout the season in shooting 49 and 46, respectively.

“If you have four kids shoot in the 40s, it’s pretty tough to beat,” he said.

Next up is a trip to Waterville Country Club, where the Warriors lost to the Purple Panthers 5.5-3.5, but took three of the five individual matches.

“I feel like our kids are going to be confident,” Brown said. “It’s pretty even teams, so I’m looking forward to the matchup.”

MCI slipped past Erskine on the Eagles’ home course, getting victories from Anna Smith (3 and 2), Owen Williams (3 and 1) and Avery Gosselin (4 and 2), while the Huskies’ 181-184 edge in strokes gave them the tiebreaking three points.

It was a bounce-back effort from MCI, which lost to Erskine at Natanis on Monday. Coach Ryan McLellan said the team was thrown off by the prospect of playing at the site of the state championships.

“They got a little more worked up than they would for a regular season match,” he said. “Today, they were over it. … They weren’t playing their opponent last time, they were playing the course. Today, they looked at their matches.

Smith shot a 43 and Gosselin had a 44, while Thomas Parker shot 44 and Joe Cloutier had a 51 in the first and second matches, respectively, for MCI.

Connor Paine (39, 2 and 1) won the first match for Erskine, while Justin Browne (43, 3 and 2) won the second match.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM


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