AUGUSTA — The Cony girls basketball team wasn’t going to let Jaycie Christopher take over. The Rams were trailing Skowhegan by only four points early in the third quarter, and they had its superb sophomore guard swarmed by two players whenever she got her hands on the ball.

If Skowhegan were going to win, someone else was going to have to step up. Fortunately for the visitors, there were a few players who were up for the challenge.

Emma Duffy had 11 points and Sierra Carey added nine to complement Christopher’s game-high 19, and Skowhegan outlasted Cony 47-30 in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference matchup Friday night.

Skowhegan’s Sierra Carey, left, and Cony’s Kristen Kirk go after a ball Friday in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

The win gets Skowhegan to .500 at 7-7, while Cony fell to 4-11.

“We knew we needed this win,” said coach Mike LeBlanc. “It was a big win that we needed to get because we need to beat everyone below us in the standings so no one can climb ahead of us.”

The win was on shaky ground after Reilley Fleck made consecutive baskets that cut the Skowhegan lead to 23-19 with 7:10 to go in the third quarter. The Rams were also coming out with renewed focus on Christopher, who had 13 points in the first half but couldn’t get the ball without running into a trap, with a combination of Fleck, Sierra Prebit and Kristin Kirk applying the pressure.

Her teammates, however, were ready to take the lead. Emily Dunbar knocked down a 3-pointer, Carey (seven rebounds) had a putback, and Duffy hit another three, her third of the game, to make it 31-21 with 1:58 left.

“If they take Jay away, all of us have to step up,” Duffy said. “It was definitely big. It’s a momentum change too if we get on some good plays in a row, we get some defensive stops. The energy gets higher for our team.”

With Christopher not registering a point, Skowhegan ended the third quarter on a 12-2 run, taking command at 35-21. Christopher scored six points at the free throw line in the final 1:32 to put the game away.

“We stepped up our defense, and it feels really good to have a good, solid team win,” Christopher said. “We have a couple of freshmen, Callaway LePage and Sierra Carey, that have really stepped up on the offensive boards. Sierra had a couple of really good putbacks that were really big. It’s that kind of stuff that wins games.”

Cony coach Adam Rich praised the defensive effort from his team, but said the game showed the work still needing to be done on the offensive end.

“Defensively, I thought we stepped up huge. The intensity was there, rotations were pretty good,” said Rich, whose team was led by 11 points from Linelys Velazquez. “Just offensively, we weren’t putting the ball in the hole, so the game kind of creeped away at the end.

“I think we did what we needed to do defensively, it’s just offensively we couldn’t keep pace with the scoring. We’re a much better defensive team than we are offensively.”

Part of that was Skowhegan’s doing. LeBlanc didn’t like the way his team was slow to cover open Cony shooters, so he had them play closer to the perimeter. After hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 12 points in the first quarter, the Rams scored nine and hit none over the next two periods.

“The biggest thing is we took away their spacing because we dropped into a zone, which I don’t like to do, but I felt we needed to,” LeBlanc said. “They were just running us around, we were chasing them too much and they were getting wide-open looks.”

After starting 3-6, Skowhegan has won four of its last five games.

“After we started off the season a little bit in a hole, it’s good we’ve battled back,” Christopher said. “Some kids have really stepped up and we’ve been playing as a team really well.”

Comments are not available on this story.