AUGUSTA — When the list of 10 Mr. Maine Basketball semifinalists is released in the middle of tournament week in February, Hampden’s Bryce Lausier and Cony’s Simon McCormick should both be on it. Lausier and McCormick are inarguably the best players in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A division, and certainly rank among the top seniors in the state.

“I don’t know how many players are around the state, but they’re in the conversation as two of the best players,” Cony coach TJ Maines said. “Lausier’s just a handful. He does everything well. He’s got the size and skill that makes a difference.”

For the second time this season, McCormick and Lausier squared off. For the second time, Lausier’s Broncos earned the win, this one 81-76 in front of a packed Cony gym. Hampden and Cony are currently the top two teams in the Class A North Heal Point standings, and was a chance to see both of these top notch players in action against superb competition.

“I first knew Bryce when I played him in AAU ball going into freshman year. He was a skinny, lanky kid, didn’t have much muscle. It feels like it was yesterday. Now he’s a lot bigger, a lot taller, a lot stronger. Just a really good player,” McCormick said.

McCormick finished with a game-high 34 points, with nine assists and five steals. Lausier scored 21 points, making 8 of 10 foul shots in the fourth quarter to help the Broncos hang on. It was as good as expected, although foul trouble has a way of turning these kind of things upside down.

With 38.5 seconds left in the first quarter, Lausier picked up his third foul. Seconds later he picked up his fourth, in the form of a technical foul issued due to his reaction to the call. Four fouls with nearly 25 minutes of basketball left meant Lausier was going to sit, and sit for a while.

“I knew I messed up, but I’m super-happy we have a bunch of guys who are very capable of playing basketball and they held it down,” Lausier said.

Lausier didn’t step on the court in the second quarter. Hampden coach Ryss Bartlett considered taking Lausier out when he picked up his second foul with 1:48 left in the first quarter, but didn’t.

“I did think about it, but typically he’s shown he can play with two fouls. I felt like he didn’t foul the guy, but it was called. He needs to not be reactive, obviously. He needs to handle that better. But we found a way to get to halftime with the lead, still,” Bartlett said, noting his team’s 37-32 halftime lead. “The conversation at halftime was when are we going to put him back in? I told the staff I think we’re going to run him out there. I didn’t want them to grab momentum first and have us playing from behind. He did a good job not committing another foul.”

With Lausier unable to guard McCormick due to his foul trouble, McCormick played offense as if he wasn’t guarded at all. McCormick scored 10 points in the second quarter, then went off for 16 in the third. With 3:12 left in the third quarter, McCormick was fouled making an off balance three in front of the Rams bench. When he sank the free throw for the rare four-point play, Cony had a 52-51 lead.

“Typically we (guard McCormick) with Bryce The first time, he held him to seven (points). If Bryce can’t guard him, that’s a different ball game,” Bartlett said. “You can see how special he is. The 3-pointer we fouled him on was a really tough shot. His ability to get to the rim and create for others is what makes him real special.”

Maines thought McCormick was a little flat early. On the big stage against a tough team like Hampden, McCormick wasn’t flat for long.

“Simon kind of showed what he’s about. That second and third quarter were just tremendous. He’s been doing it all year,” Maine said.

Last summer, Maines took some players to the Dartmouth College prospect camp, where they played in front of college coaches from Divisions I, II, and III. Lausier was there, too. The college coaches loved both players, Maines said. Maines said a few coaches told him if McCormick was 6-feet tall, he’d be a Division I player. But McCormick is 5-foot-6 if we’re being generous. He’ll play next season at Bates, where he’ll get an amazing education and play a little ball. For a stretch, McCormick found himself defending Hampden’s 6-7 TJ Henaghan in the low post.

“He’s got to live in the body that he’s in, and I think he does a great job with it.Going against 6-7 at the rim. He’s still competing. That says something about his heart,” Maines said.

Added Lausier: “He’s a quick, shifty player. He’s very good on the ball. He can go by pretty much anyone, so you’ve just got to try to contain him. He’s a great player.”

The Mr. Basketball semifinalists will be announced in the middle of February. If Lausier and McCormick’s names aren’t of the list, the list is incomplete.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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