AUGUSTA — The Cony boys basketball team had won five of its first six games, but coach T.J. Maines was still waiting for the breakthrough. When all of the Rams’ skilled shooters were on at once, and the team got the fast, aggressive defense on the other side of the floor to go with it.

On Saturday afternoon, he got it.

Simon McCormick scored 22 points and Kyle Douin added 17 as the top marksmen of a red-hot shooting attack, leading Cony to an 88-48 win over Waterville in the Capital City Hoop Classic at the Augusta Civic Center.

“Our guys seemed pretty dialed in,” Maines said. “I don’t want to say we live and die by the three because I think we’re a better team than that, but if we’re making threes, I think we become a very, very good team. And we just kept making them.”

On the heels of a win over Brewer in which they knocked down 10 3-pointers, the Rams were even sharper Saturday. Cony buried 17 3-pointers on 36 attempts, with McCormick and Douin hitting four apiece and Dakota Dearborn (11 points), Luke Briggs (10), Nick Wilcott (eight) and Matt Wozniak (six) each hitting two.

“We got good looks, guys made them, and that’s the big thing,” Maines said. “People are going to play zone to try to slow the game down, and if we can make shots, they’re not going to be able to do it for an extended period.”

Seven of those 3-pointers came in the third quarter, which saw the Rams turn a 43-27 lead into a 70-29 rout.

“I would like to see us contest a few more of those shots,” Waterville coach Heath Cowan said, “but certainly, when teams are making shots, they’re getting into their pressure more, the energy builds and it kind of snowballs.”

The game was close through most of the first half, as Cony (6-1) went on an 18-0 run to take a 33-15 lead, but the Purple Panthers (0-7) countered with an 11-0 run to trim the deficit to seven points at 33-26. McCormick answered with a three, sparking a strong finish that put Cony ahead 43-27 at the half.

“We were up by 16, but Waterville’s a team that can stick around if you let them stick around,” McCormick said. “We needed in the third quarter to step on the gas.”

The Rams demonstrated that urgency, outscoring the Purple Panthers 27-2 for the period. After handling Cony’s pressure for much of the first half, Waterville broke down in the third quarter, taking only six shots to Cony’s 22 as the Rams feasted on steals and errant passes.

“We’re not disciplined enough at this point to do that for an entire basketball game,” said Cowan, whose team was led by 16 points from Jack Lloyd and eight rebounds from Jack Thompson and seven from Trafton Gilbert. “I thought, when we executed, we handled their pressure OK. Cony’s better than we are. … They made shots, we didn’t, that was the difference in the first half. We came out in the second half and we didn’t execute.”

The Purple Panthers couldn’t slow the Rams on the other end. Douin hit back-to-back 3-pointers, McCormick hit another, and Briggs then knocked down a jumper and a 3-pointer to make it 64-29 and prompt Cowan to call timeout with 3:10 left in the quarter.

It looked for a stretch like the Rams couldn’t miss. Douin said that’s how they felt.

“(We) just play hard and look for the best shot we can possibly get. And when everyone’s hitting, it’s easy to do that,” he said. “If you don’t have the right shot, you can kick it to someone with a better shot. … That’s Coach’s mentality, ‘Shoot, shoot, shoot.’ That’s what we did. Fortunately enough, we were able to make them.”

McCormick said the hot display was something the team was waiting for, even as it was winning games.

“We’ve been struggling a little shooting the ball,” said McCormick, whose team missed its first 17 3-pointers of the second half against Mt. Blue on Dec. 20, the Rams’ only loss of the season. “But I think, now that we see the ball go in there, we’re a lot better.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM


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