AUGUSTA — Impressive as the Mt. Blue boys basketball team’s start has been, the Cougars faced their biggest test so far on Thursday night.

James Anderson and Garrett Reynolds made sure they passed.

Anderson scored 33 points and Reynolds buried a go-ahead 3-pointer with 57 seconds remaining in overtime, lifting Mt. Blue to a dramatic 75-74 victory over previously undefeated Cony.

Mt. Blue, which won one game last season, improved to 4-1, while the Rams, who had to play the final 1:40 without Simon McCormick (23 points), fell to the same mark.

“It definitely was a test. We definitely needed to win,” Anderson said. “We know we’re a very good team, we know who we can beat, and we know we can beat every team in this league.”

“That’s what we’ve been early so far. When it gets tough, we keep our composure,” coach Travis Magnusson said. “It looked like five or six times we were in big trouble tonight, down four with 20 seconds left, and they just have the confidence they can stay through and keep fighting.”

The Cougars had to resurrect themselves just to force overtime, as Cony took a 67-63 lead with 24 seconds left in regulation on a pair of McCormick free throws. But Cony missed its final four free throws with a chance to put the game away, and Reynolds hit a three and Anderson had a free throw to tie the game.

“If you can’t make foul shots, you don’t deserve to win at the end of the game,” Cony coach T.J. Maines said. “Both teams had chances to win, and should have won.”

Cony started off hot in overtime, as Ian Bowers had an up-and-under basket, Kyle Douin (14 points) hit two free throws and Bowers hit another to put the Rams up 72-68 with 2:11 to go, but the Cougars bounced back again. Reynolds got the roll on a short shot to cut the gap to 72-70, and after McCormick (nine steals) was whistled for his fifth foul, Anderson knocked down both free throws to tie the game at 72.

Cony’s Dakota Dearborn (18 points) reignited the crowd with a jumper to put the Rams ahead 74-72 with 1:17 left, but Reynolds drained a three on Mt. Blue’s next trip down for the winning points.

“We just came into this game saying ‘No matter what, we have to win,’ ” said Anderson, who also grabbed eight rebounds. “If there’s time on the clock, the game’s still going, we never give up.”

The win came on the heels of a heartbreaking 65-62 loss to Leavitt, and Magnusson was happy to see his team shake off the disappointing result.

“I didn’t know coming in how they would do, exactly,” he said. “They made me proud with how tough they were. … I’m happy for my guys. That’s one of the biggest wins they’ve had in a while.”

Maines said the winning play was another missed opportunity, as Cony was outdueled by Dillon Baker for a rebound seconds before Reynolds (17 points, five rebounds) hit the deciding shot.

“(The shot) came off an offensive rebound that the smallest guy on the court got,” he said. “We didn’t get our hands to it. It should have been our ball, and we didn’t make the play to get to it.”

Maines didn’t blame McCormick’s departure in overtime for the loss.

“Those kinds of things are frustrating, but that doesn’t win the game,” he said. “We were plus-4 in missed free throws. Bottom line is you have a chance to win the game, we didn’t execute.”

Maines instead gave credit to Mt. Blue’s defense, which hurried the Rams into some unforced turnovers in the second half.

“Defensively, the way that they played us with the kind of trapping 2-3, we didn’t handle it correctly,” Maines said. “I did a poor job coaching it and coaching against it. Kudos to Travis and Mt. Blue for doing something to slow us down.”

The Rams still were in position for the victory, pulling off their own impressive rally to get there. Anderson and Jacob Farnham (eight points) each made a pair of free throws to give Mt. Blue a 63-59 lead with 1:22 to play, but Cony answered right back when McCormick hit a 3-pointer and Douin hit another, putting the Rams up 65-63 with 32 seconds to go.

Maines said he was happy to see both players step up after making uncharacteristic mistakes down the stretch.

“I was really pleased with those two guys,” he said. “They kind of pulled themselves together to make those plays.”

Drew Bonifant – 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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