Cony’s Sierra Prebit can stop a pass from Maranacook’s Natalie Mohlar, left, to Jordan Carr during a game Tuesday in Augusta. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — On paper, it will show the Maranacook girls basketball team lost a 47-40 decision to Cony on Tuesday night in a Class A/B crossover game. The Black Bears fell behind 14-0 and never once enjoyed a lead.

But what they were able to do in quarters two through four was chip away at a 21-6 deficit to pull within three of the Rams with 1:46 remaining.

And that, said Maranacook head coach Karen Magnusson, will help the squad find its identity.

“I think it’s a mentality that you try to build,” Magnusson said. “These girls are beginning to believe that. We just said (in the locker room), that was one of the funnest games they’ve played in, but they lost. That’s not the point of it, it’s trying to do things the right way.”

After a strong season in 2020-21 — one that included an upset over Skowhegan in a Class A/B quarterfinal in the central Maine basketball tournament — Maranacook graduated six seniors. This year, the Black Bears (3-3) have just two seniors — guards Grace Dwyer and Ella Schmidt, with a heavy mix of juniors (six) and freshmen (five).

While down 15 points to the Rams after the first quarter, the Black Bears didn’t hang their heads. Instead, they got to work. Maranacook outscored Cony (5-2) 12-11 in the second quarter, and then 10-9 in the third. Every play the Black Bears made was cheered loudly by the bench, pushing the energy of the team on the floor.

“The bench energy is our main thing, that feeds on our court energy,” Dwyer said. “We never stay low, because we always focus on the next play.”

Cony’s Indiya Clark emerges through some Maranacook defenders to look for a shot during a game Tuesday in Augusta. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“They fought hard,” Magnusson added. “How can you not be proud of that effort? And I thought the energy of the gym, for three quarters, was produced a lot by our bench, so I’m proud not just of the kids who played, but our whole program. I thought everybody showed up.”

Maranacook saved its best play for the fourth. Led by Dwyer, who scored seven of her game-high 17 points in the period, and a defense that forced seven turnovers during the quarter, Maranacook trailed Cony 43-40 with less than two minutes remaining. A 3-pointer by Sage Fortin with a minute left helped seal the victory for the Rams.

“(Maranacook) is always a tough team,” Cony head coach Adam Rich said. “They play with a lot of energy, they play intense. I think, sometimes, kids get a little rattled by it.”

“It’s a big accomplishment (to pull close to Cony),” Dwyer added. “They’re supposed to win states and all, but Coach said you’ve got play with heart and intensity, those are the two major things. Some things didn’t go our way, but we stayed through and we kept pushing through.”

The Maine high school basketball tournament is open this season, which means Maranacook is already guaranteed a postseason berth in Class B South. But, as Magnusson pointed out after the game, how the Black Bears play when the tournament begins will be pivotal.

“With the season (ending) in an open tournament, it changes things as a coach,” Magnusson said. “It’s not so much about the wins and losses as it is progressing the way you need to, to be the best you can be at the end. I thought this was a huge step for us going forward.”

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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