AUGUSTA — Historically, it’s a program that’s accustomed to playing in title games. Recently, though, it’s one that hasn’t been.

Well, after a spectacular second-half performance Wednesday against Hampden Academy, the Cony girls basketball team can say it’s going back — and that it’s one win away from cutting down nets for the first time since many of its current players were pre-schoolers.

Cony claimed a 52-40 victory over Hampden in the Class A North semifinals at the Augusta Civic Center. The Rams outscored the Broncos 29-12 in the second half to reach Friday’s regional title game against Lawrence. It’s Cony’s first regional championship game berth since 2013.

“It’s incredible for these girls,” said Cony head coach John Dennett. “This is a special group. They’ve been a part of the Cony girls basketball program ever since they were little, and they’ve been playing together forever. It’s something they’ve always dreamed about doing.”

Cony got 15 points and six rebounds from Abby Morrill, 12 points and 12 rebounds from Morgan Fichthorn, and 11 points and four rebounds from Morgan Cunningham. The Rams limited Hampden to just two field goals over the first 14 minutes, 50 seconds of game time in the second half.


Morrill got going early for No. 3 Cony (13-7), scoring the Rams’ first five points to pace them out to a 5-2 lead inside two minutes. Yet Hampden controlled the rest of the period, taking an 8-7 lead on back-to-back Aubrey Shaw baskets before a Lauren Voteur 3 with 10 seconds left gave the Broncos a 13-8 edge after one.

The second quarter saw neither side gain much advantage with No. 2 Hampden (14-6) failing to push its lead to double digits and Cony unable to get within one possession. The Broncos went to the second half up 28-23 after Cony’s Maci Freeman hit a 3-pointer with 1:18 left in the half for the half’s final points.

“We were a little behind, but we knew that we were still in a spot where we could catch up,” Fichthorn said of her team’s halftime deficit. “We’ve been behind in these situations before — we’ve done it before in a lot of close games this season — so we knew we could do what we had to do to catch up.”

Cony certainly exhibited that resolve early in the second half, using layups from Morrill, Fichthorn and Cunningham to take a 29-28 lead. That was the first of seven lead changes in the third quarter as the Rams limited Hampden to six points in the period to take a 35-34 lead into the fourth.

Hampden Academy’s Eve Wiles defends Cony’s Morgan Cunningham during a Class A North girls basketball semifinal game Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

While Hampden’s offensive struggles continued in the fourth quarter, Cony’s offense was at its strongest in a 17-point period. Morrill had six points, two of which came on a putback off of a missed free-throw attempt that put the Rams up double digits, and Cunningham and Fichthorn added four each.

“We’ve been kind of running that 1-3-1 zone all year, and everybody knows it and has been trying to break it, so the last couple days, we’ve tried to install a 1-2-2 three-corner press,” Dennett said. “We just wanted to slow them down and then sometimes speed them up, and it really worked for us tonight.”


Hampden, which had shot 70.2 percent from the field in a 69-31 quarterfinal victory over Gardiner, managed just 39.2 percent in this one. The Broncos, whose leading scorer was Eva Wiles (10 points) were just 2 for 14 from 3-point range, and their futility proved costly as Fichthorn and Morrill grabbed key rebounds.

“We just said to ourselves, ‘Let’s get on those boards,” Morrill said. “We were in a zone for some of the time, and Hampden was killing us on the boards earlier, so we made sure we boxed out and started there. … You just find a player, get your butt into them and back up.”

Cony has won 12 regional championships, the most of any Class A girls team. The Rams can add another to their resume Friday by winning the regional final, something they haven’t done since 2012. The team is chasing its first state championship since 2007.

Now one game away, though, it’s easy to see how Cony got there. They’ve been tested by one of the state’s toughest schedules, and although they aren’t as deep as other teams with a six-player rotation, everybody on the floor can pass, rebound and shoot.

“We don’t run really deep, but we make up with our skills and what we do have,” Fichthorn said. “All six girls we play are amazing. We make a great team, and we were motivated to get a win.”

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