Cony ‘s Abby Morrill, left, drives by Messalonskee’s Olivia Thomas during a girls basketball game Tuesday in Augusta. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — The Cony girls basketball team is a team of veterans, led by seven seniors.

But it was the newer additions that helped with an offensive surge in the second half, leading the Rams to a 69-44 victory over Messalonskee in a Class A North matchup at the Capital City Hoop Classic on Tuesday night at the Augusta Civic Center.

Down 28-26 at halftime, Cony (4-2) outscored the Eagles (1-4) 43-16 in the second half. Much of that offensive output came from freshman Abby Morrill, who scored 19 points, along with junior transfer Sage Fortin — formerly of Winthrop — who added 14 points.

“We had four to five players with two to three fouls heading into the second half, so we knew we had to play tight defense,” Fortin said. “We just had to pick up the energy on the bench, we were kind of low the first half. Once we got going and we were swinging the ball more, we got the energy up, and I think that’s what really took us into the third and fourth quarter.”

Cony jumped out to a 16-11 lead in the first quarter, but had some shooting woes in the second quarter, leading Messalonskee to go on a 10-0 run to take a 21-18 lead with two minutes remaining in the half. By halftime, the Eagles were up by two.

“Going into the locker room (at halftime), I think they knew they weren’t playing very well,” Cony head coach Adam Rich said. “Defense was allowing a lot of easy (shots). We kind of went in and just kind of focused on the things we weren’t doing well. We pulled off our (defensive) press a little bit, and then jumped it back on. I think our defense kind of sparked our offense. Once we hit those first couple shots, we were just on from there.”

Cony’s Sierra Prebit, right, pressures Messalonskee’s Ashley Mullen during a girls basketball game Tuesday in Augusta. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Play continued to be back-and-forth between both teams early in the second half, but a Morrill 3-pointer midway through the quarter gave Cony a 38-35 lead, which they would never again relinquish. Up 48-39 entering the fourth quarter, the Rams outscored the Eagles 21-5 in the final period.

Fortin said a key through the first five games of the season for Cony has been getting everyone — new and veteran players alike — acclimated with each other on the floor.

“Other than the seven seniors, no one else has really played (on varsity for Cony), so it’s kind of new to all of us,” Fortin said. “We’ve been doing some team bonding stuff, and I think that’s what’s really important. That’s kind of what is bringing us together. I think that’s the best (time) we’ve come together (this season), that third and fourth quarter.”

“We’re loaded with seven seniors, we’ve got a lot of veterans from last year,” Rich said. “Most of the group played a lot of varsity minutes last year. We’ve got a couple new girls, with Indiya (Clarke) and Sage Fortin coming over. But they’re all just a very intelligent group and they’re starting to jell very well together. I see us getting better and better as the year goes on.”

Alyssa Redman and Kristen Kirk each added 11 points for Cony.

Messalonskee — a young squad this season with a group of eight players who are either freshmen or sophomores — kept battling throughout and showed some promise with the play of sophomores Brennan Doran and Ashley Mullen. Doran led Messalonskee with 20 points, while Mullen added 14 points.

“When things were going well, they were relaxed, they were enjoying themselves,” Messalonskee head coach Keith Dersoby said. “They were letting the game come to them a little bit. In that third quarter, we talked about Cony making a run — they’re not going to go down quietly and just give it up — but you could just see some of that tightening up when things started going (Cony’s) way a little bit more. Credit to Cony, they had some kids that hit some big threes. They had good position, they caught and shot the ball very well.”

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