HAMPDEN, Maine — It was a challenge for which Cony senior guard Chelsea Arbour was ready.
Her Rams had seen Hampden Academy trim a once-comfortable 13-point lead down to a less-than-cozy four heading into the fourth quarter.
That’s when coach Karen Sirois challenged Arbour to carry the troops to the finish line.
Arbour answered the call, scoring 12 of her team’s 16 fourth-quarter points as Cony of Augusta snapped a three-game losing streak with a hard-fought 46-40 KVAC Class A girls basketball victory Friday night over the scrappy Broncos.
Sirois’ 2-3 Rams, who led 30-26 entering the final eight minutes, saw the margin trimmed to two with 6:45 to play on Katie Chambers’ baseline pull-up. But the inevitable Cony run was coming, and Arbour would start it on the Rams’ next possession.
A baseline drive and a 3-pointer from the left wing stretched Cony’s lead to seven with just under six minutes to play.
Hampden would respond, with Julia Snyder’s putback and Michaela Stephenson’s 3 from the top of the key making it a 35-33 game with 5:07 left.
But the 1-4 Broncos had no answers for Arbour, who scored the game’s next seven points to build the lead back to nine with 3:10 to play and Hampden got no closer than five after that.
“I guess you could say I was feeling it … it was more like time, like the right time to come out and put them away,” said Arbour, who finished with a game-high 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting, including 3-for-7 from the perimeter.
“I kind of needed to step up and I knew I needed to step up, especially as a senior,” Arbour said.
Cony took advantage of an overaggressive Hampden team to build its first-half lead, which reached its peak at 26-13 with 3:48 to play. Coach Ben Greenlaw’s club got caught up in the Rams’ transition game often, leaving shooters open beyond the arc.
“We just did a poor job of finding shooters in transition early,” Greenlaw said. “And the second thing we talked a lot about was not over-helping. If you leave them open, they’re going to make you pay.”
Hampden tightened up its defense in the second half while exhibiting sound offensive patience, working the ball around the perimeter and searching for inside looks against a relatively small Cony team.
“I think they were doing a good job of getting the ball inside, attacking and then kicking it out which makes our defense collapse, and they hit some shots,” said Sirois.
But the Rams would put the clamps down late, holding the Broncos to two field goals — one being Snyder’s 3-pointer as time expired — in the final two minutes.
“We just needed to pick up our defense, said senior Brittany Ford, who was 3-4 from 3-point range en route to 11 points. “We just needed to pick up our game in general and I think this was the game we needed to prove that to ourselves.”
The Broncos had all kinds of chances down the stretch, as the Rams struggled at the foul line, but senior Courtney Dufour hit all four of her free throws in the final minute to cement the victory while the Rams did a solid job on the offensive glass.
Cony hopes this could be the game that sends it on a long win streak after setbacks to Leavitt of Turner Center and Mount Ararat of Topsham this week.
“Which is not like us,” Ford said.
Sirois added, “I hope so. I think so. We’re on the right track. We’re doing some good things, bringing it all together.”
Snyder scored a game-high 13 points, nine coming in the second half, for Hampden, to go with nine rebounds. Kayla Webb and Stephenson contributed eight points each.