AUGUSTA — Knowing the style of defense its opponent was going to play, there was one thing that the Lawrence girls basketball team had to do well to advance.

It was obvious to the Bulldogs that a zone defense, one that Cony has played all year, was awaiting them a regional semifinal clash Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Beating it required Lawrence to shoot well from deep, something it did exceptionally well in a 68-37 victory over the Rams.

“We knew they were going to play zone, so getting some 3s was going to really big for us,” said Lawrence senior Ali Higgins. “We’ve been working on it by getting a lot of shots up at practice, and I think that helped us push ahead and get that really good lead and keep it rolling.”

Lawrence finished with 10 3-pointers overall — all coming before the midway mark in the third quarter — to finish one shy of the Class A North/East tournament record set by Skowhegan in 2006. The result sent the Bulldogs to the regional championship game Friday.

Second-ranked Lawrence (17-3) got its 3-point shooting going early with Alisabeth Dumont, Hope Bouchard, Higgins and Maddie Provost all hitting from deep. The Bulldogs also stifled Cony at the other end in the opening quarter, limiting the Rams to a single basket in the frame to take a 12-3 lead into the second.

With Abby Morrill and Sage Cunningham beginning to penetrate, and a barrage of Lawrence fouls sending the Rams to the line, No. 3 Cony (15-5) got its offense going in the second quarter. Yet the Bulldogs, led by three 3-pointers from Bouchard, never let Cony get closer than six points and led 29-19 at the half.


“When we shoot the ball well from outside, we’re pretty tough to contend with,” said Lawrence head coach Greg Chesley. “In two games down here this year, we’ve shot it pretty well. … If we can come out and shoot the ball well against any team in the state, we’re going to be OK, and we certainly shot it well tonight.”

Lawrence effectively put the game away to begin the second half, which it began with a 15-0 run keyed by 3-pointers from Bouchard, Dumont and Higgins. The Bulldogs’ lead never slipped below 21 points from that point on and continued to balloon even as the 3s stopped falling as the second half progressed.

Bouchard finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists for Lawrence, which also got double figures from Bri Poulin (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Higgins (10 points, four rebounds, four assists). Dumont and Provost added nine points each for the Bulldogs, with the latter adding five rebounds and three assists.

Just as key to Lawrence’s 3-point barrage, though, was its success on the defensive end. The Bulldogs limited Cony to 22 percent shooting on the afternoon and limited the Rams to just three 3-pointers, two of which came with the result no longer in double in the fourth quarter.

“We knew we had to keep them in front of us, and we definitely did a good job of that,” Higgins said. “We knew they were going to penetrate and shoot, and they love to shoot 3s. Having quick closeouts and making sure we were getting hands in their faces was important for us.”

Abby Morrill had 14 points and six rebounds for Cony, which also got nine points, four rebounds and four assists from Sage Fortin. Despite the loss to a Lawrence team that head coach John Dennett called the region’s best, the season was still a remarkable turnaround campaign for a Rams team that was playing in the semifinals for the first time in nine years.


“This was an incredible season, and I’m proud of the girls and proud of the community,” said Dennett, a first-year head coach. “Cony girls basketball has always been a big tradition, and the last 10-11 years, it hasn’t been that way. Hopefully, (a season like this) can help us turn it around and get some younger kids excited.”

The win gave Lawrence its second straight appearance in the Class A North championship game. The Bulldogs also reached the regional final last year, falling 44-30 to a Jaycie Christopher-led Skowhegan squad that went on to complete an undefeated season and capture the Gold Ball.

The bulk of Lawrence players who played in that Northern Maine title game loss last year will be back on the floor Friday when the team looks to do one better. It’s a place, then, to which a Bulldogs team that was seen as one of the state’s contender when the season began had its sights set on returning.

“Being back in this game was part of the plan for us,” Chesley said. “We try to give the Patriot, (Bill) Belichick mentality of just looking at the next game, but this group was expected to be in the A North final, and that’s where we are.”

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