AUGUSTA — The final seconds ticked away, and Cony High School senior Dakota Dearborn placed the basketball on the court to begin celebrating with his teammates. The No. 2 seed in the Class A North tournament, the Rams just survived a scare from No. 7 Lawrence, taking a 66-57 win.

“They’re fighting as much as we are,” Dearborn said of Lawrence, a team Cony beat in the regular season twice.

Cony (15-4) will face No. 3 Medomak Valley on Wednesday night at the Augusta Civic Center. The Rams will have to play better, coach TJ Maines said.

“We go 2-19 from three, it’s going to be a tight game. We didn’t execute offensively. We didn’t cut enough. I wasn’t real pleased with our offensive effort,” Maines said.

 

Cony has been here before. Winning in the Class A North quarterfinals is a tradition for this crop of Cony boys basketball players. It’s the next game, Wednesday night’s semifinal game, that has been the Rams kryptonite.

Last season, the Rams fell in the regional semifinals to Lawrence. In 2018, Cony lost in the regional semifinals to Hampden Academy. In 2017, the Rams bowed out in the regional semifinals to Oceanside.

“You’ve got to make plays when it counts. Hampden two years ago, they were a better team than we were. The other two games were games we had an opportunity to win. When it came time in the fourth quarter to make plays, we didn’t,” Maines said.

Cony handled Lawrence fairly easily in the regular season, winning by 25 at Lawrence in the season opener and by 20 at home in the January rematch. The playoffs are a different animal, though, and Lawrence hung with the Rams throughout the first half. Dakota Dearborn’s putback of a McCormick miss as time expired gave the Rams a 39-31 halftime lead, their largest of the half.

The first half was played at Cony’s frantic yet under control pace, and every time it seemed as Lawrence was going to lose its grip and let the game spin out of control, the Bulldogs hung on. When Cony pushed its lead to 10 points, 43-33, early in the third quarter, Lawrence didn’t fold. The Bulldogs rallied, and with 3:31 to play cut Cony’s lead to one, 58-57.

 

“They beat us on the glass. Being on the tournament floor gives everyone an edge, and I think they took advantage of it,” Cony senior guard Simon McCormick said.

The Rams scored the final eight points of the game, making four free throws in the final 37 seconds to put it away. Survive and advance. Dearborn scored 22 points to lead Cony. McCormick and Luke Briggs each scored 17. For Lawrence, Dylan Martin-Hachey led the way with 20 points.

Now Cony gets Medomak Valley, another team it beat twice in the regular season by lopsided scores. Cony scored 91 points in each win over the Panthers. That means nothing now.

“There’s no key to it. It’s all heart,” Dearborn said.

“They’re a well-coached team,” Maines said of Medomak Valley. “We’ll have to play really well.”

The biggest thing Cony needs to remember is how it got here. It’s not playing against the past. It’s playing Medomak Valley.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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