AUGUSTA — The holidays are over, and so is the feeling-out process.

The high school basketball season is about a third of the way through, which means we’re now into the meat of the season. Players and coaches may not admit it, but this is around the time they start checking the scoreboard, eyeing the standings — and dare to start thinking about the postseason.

And speaking of the postseason, Cony High’s teams earned a split decision Saturday against visiting Nokomis, which ended both the Rams’ boys and girls seasons in last year’s Class A playoffs. The girls earned a dose of revenge with a tough 53-52 win over the Warriors, a couple hours after the boys dropped a 71-56 decision.

In the girls game, Cony led by as many as 10 points late in the third quarter before Nokomis closed the gap to within one (49-48) on Raegan King’s 3-pointer with 2:29 left as part of her 11-point afternoon. Cony built the league back up to 53-50 thanks to four free throws, but King struck again with a steal and basket to make it 53-52 with 21 seconds left.

The Warriors’ Camryn King (19 points, nine rebounds) grabbed a rebound two seconds later, but the Warriors (4-3) were unable to get a shot off.

“I can’t say enough about the girls’ hearts today,” Nokomis coach Chelsea Crockett said. “Now is the time we want to see that they’ll step up and take those challenges and take them head-on. (Camryn) works hard for us every game. When she’s not scoring, she’s crashing the boards. She always has something up her sleeve.”


The Rams, meanwhile, had the victory, even though it didn’t come easily.

“We knew that we had to show them that we meant something,” said Cony junior Morgan Cunningham, who finished with 21 points and six rebounds. “They’re pretty tough. We got down on ourselves at some points, but we made it pretty tough (for them). This is really one of those tough teams that we need to show what we are as a  team and prove people wrong.”

This season has been one of change for Cony (6-2), with a new coach (John Dennett) and a small roster, although 10 players suited up Saturday, up from the usual six to nine.

But the players who are on the court are mighty talented, and mighty disciplined, as they committed only 11 fouls Saturday.

Cunningham can dish out a pass or grab a rebound as artfully as she can swish a 3-pointer. Senior Sage Fortin (10 points) added a spark, including a first-quarter bucket off her own steal, and classmate Cale Barajas made several key rebounds down the stretch — she finished with seven — to prevent Nokomis from taking over.

Despite the obstacles, Dennett is proud of how his team has battled this season.


“It’s a challenge,” said Dennett, whose coaching staff includes his daughter, Alyssah. “In the last game, we only had six girls total, so it’s a challenge in itself. We’re trying to get healthy and stay healthy. My daughter does a great job with subbing and keeping me grounded.”

Cony’s Abby Morrill (13) and Nokomis’ Camryn King leap for the opening tipoff to start a girls basketball game Saturday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Added Cunningham: “I love the change. I love our coach. Even though we have a short (-bench) team, I’d say we’re pretty positive with each other and we bring each other up when we’re down.”

The boys game was a seesaw battle in which neither team led by more than 3 points from the 5:01 mark of the first quarter until Nokomis went on a 13-0 run, which began with 7:33 left in the fourth quarter and put the game on ice. Nokomis junior Alex Grant finished with 15 points, 13 in the second half as the Warriors tried to defy Cony’s pressure defense. The 5-foot-9 Grant drilled a pair of 3-pointers late in the third quarter to give his team the lead for good, then added another triple during Nokomis’ 13-0 run.

Teammate Grady Hartsgrove, a 6-3 senior forward, scored six straight points in the game’s closing minutes as part of his 22-point, nine-rebound day, and 6-3 classmate Madden White added 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The Warriors improved to 5-3.

“Alex is just realizing how good he can be,” said Nokomis coach Earl Anderson, who returned only five players from last year’s team that won the first Class A state championship in program history. “He’s a kid who’s played in the shadow of Cooper and Ace (Flagg, now with Monteverde Academy in Florida) and other good players. He’s a very good player who’s starting to understand how good he is. Madden is freaky athletic. That’s a lethal combination.”

Cony (7-2), suffered its first loss since a 94-44 decision to Brewer on Dec. 22. Kam Douin led the Rams with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Dom Napolitano added 10 points and some dazzling midair passes.

“We just didn’t make shots and get back on defense and get back in rotations, and that pretty much led to our demise,” Cony coach Isaiah Brathwaite said. “This is one of those games where we’ve got to see where we are as a group, heading toward February and where we want to be, and hopefully we’ll play a lot better than today.”

But those on the losing end shouldn’t fret. Cony and Nokomis face off again Jan. 24 — and who knows, there could be a third round come tournament time, which like the holidays, will be here before we know it.

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