OAKLAND — On a night in which the Cony boys basketball team treated foul shots like toxic waste, the missed free throws didn’t knock down the Rams like a predator. Coach TJ Maines took no solace from that.

“The free throw thing is gross. That has to be fixed if you want to win in the tournament. I just told them tomorrow they’ll either be really good foul shooters or really tired after practice,” Maines said.

The Rams made just 7 of 19 free throws, and a miss with 7.3 seconds left gave Messalonskee the opening it needed to send the game to overtime with a Jacob Perry layup. In the extra quarter, the Rams didn’t attempt a foul shot, but scorched the net from the field, pulling away for an 85-79 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win.

Cony, now 13-4, maintained its hold on the number two spot in the Class A North Heal Point standings. Messalonskee (11-5) remained the three seed with the loss.

“We want to be playing good teams at the end of the season and be tested, and that’s certainly what happened tonight. They’re a very good team,” Maines said of Messalonskee.

Ahead 72-70 with 7.3 seconds to go, Cony’s Dakota Dearborn had a chance to ice the game at the line. His miss on the front end of a one-and-one try gave the Eagles life. Perry took a long pass from Tucker Charles, beat the Cony defense down the court, and laid in the game tying bucket with 1.2 seconds to play.

“We simulate a lot of transition stuff in practice. The timeout right before that, I gave them all the scenarios and what to do,” Messalonskee coach Jay Dangler said. “I said if they miss the first one, we’re getting it and we’re going to the rim. We were prepared for it.”

The teams traded baskets for the first two minutes of overtime, and Cony led 80-78 with just over a minute to play when sophomore Luke Briggs made the biggest of his three 3-pointers, pushing the Rams lead to five points. Briggs (15 points) said he’s struggled to find his shot lately, but it was there Thursday. Briggs made a pair of threes in the second quarter, helping Cony fight back from a 13-point deficit to cut Messalonskee’s lead to 36-34 at the half.

“I was too stuck in the moment,” Briggs said, trying to recall anything about his three in overtime. “I’ve just been getting in the gym and shooting a lot. I lost confidence, and today it grew back.”

Cony made 10 threes in the game. Dearborn (15 points) sank one to break a tie midway through the fourth quarter, giving the Rams a 64-61 lead. With 16 seconds to play in the third Kyle Douin made a three to give Cony a 54-53 lead to close the quarter. Douin finished with 18 points.

“Kyle Douin has not shot the ball great, but he did so many good things tonight. He shot the ball well again,” Maines said. “We’ve been living on three guys the last two weeks. Tonight it was good to see Kyle get back into it.”

The Eagles had multiple leads during the game, but saw Cony close the gap each time. A 12-point Messalonskee lead late in the first quarter quickly shrunk to five points. That 13-point lead barely a minute into the second quarter melted like ice cream in the sun. Late in the third quarter, back-to-back buckets by Perry (eight points) gave Messalonskee a 53-45 lead, but the Rams ended the quarter with a 9-0 run to take the lead into the fourth.

“The way they shoot the three ball, they can get back into any game and extend a lead in any game. Once you get tired down the stretch, they get comfortable shooting it and we can’t get out to (defend) shooters as quick. That what I think killed us in the fourth,” Dangler said.

Added Maines: “This is the second game in a row we’ve come out flat, not ready to go. We need to look at it from a staff standpoint and see what we’r doing in preparation that’s causing that. We didn’t make shots and we missed free throws.”

Simon McCormick scored a game-high 30 points for the Rams, most by driving to the basket and contorting his 5-foot-6 1/2 body like a Slinky to get off a shot against a much bigger defender. Matt Parent led Messalonskee with 18 points, while Tucker Charles added 17.

“I thought they handled our pressure really well. We did a poor job taking away Charles, he kept getting back to the middle and broke us down. He handled the ball really well,” Maines said.

Mason Violette added 16 points for the Eagles.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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