NEWPORT, Maine — Sometimes, one small defining moment can lead to big-time momentum.
For the Cony girls basketball team and Mackenzie Dufour, their moment came in overtime of a crucial Class A game with Nokomis.
Dufour, a junior guard for the Rams of Augusta, shut down Warriors’ sharpshooter Mary Badeen in the extra period and Brittany Ford and Chelsea Arbour canned some clutch perimeter shots as the Rams earned a hard-fought 61-54 victory Friday night and picked up some pivotal Heal points.
Coach Karen Sirois’ club improves to 7-7 and avenged a 47-37 home loss to Nokomis, which is also 7-7.
The Rams watched a double-digit lead slip away in the third quarter thanks to a 19-5 Nokomis run, fueled by Badeen’s nine points, all from behind the arc.
The clubs went into the final period tied at 35, and the inevitable Cony run happened yet again, as the Rams surged ahead by nine with five minutes to go as Arbour scored the Rams’ first 11 points of the fourth.
But the Warriors, as they had all game, did not back down, outscoring Cony 9-2 over the rest of the period, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Badeen and Sabrina Vaillancourt and a free throw by Kara Batchelder. That wiped out what had been a seven-point Ram lead with 58 seconds left and forcing overtime.
But Cony put the clamps down on Nokomis’ offense after that, in particular Badeen, whom Dufour confronted with tenacious defensive pressure along the perimeter.
“I knew I had to stop her in order to win, it was big but I was willing to do it,” said Dufour, who hit four free throws late in overtime to help seal the victory.
The clubs weren’t exactly shy to fire up shots from downtown, as they combined for 55 shots from 3-point land.
Arbour was on fire from back there in the second half, hitting all six of her 3-pointers after intermission while pouring in 22 of her game-high 30 points over that span.
“I was kind of frustrated because in the first half there was nothing. Coach told me to keep shooting and keep focused,” said Arbour, who was 6-for-16 from 3-point land.
Of all those perimeter shots, none were bigger than the last one.
After the Warriors’ Kara Batchelder ran in uncontested for a layup off the overtime tip-off, Ford hit a bomb from the top of the key while Arbour followed with one of her own from the right wing which put Cony up by five.
Nokomis would get no closer than three.
“I thought we had a lot of challenges tonight and I thought we met every one of them,” said Sirois.
The Warriors didn’t do themselves any justice from the foul line, as they were just 7-19 from the stripe.
“Where we hurt ourselves most was foul shots and missed easy layups,” said Nokomis coach Kori Dionne, whose club doesn’t have a single senior in its starting five.
Badeen, who is having an outstanding freshman campaign for the Warriors, connected for 20 points, including 14 in the second half, but could not find any open looks in the latter stages of the contest thanks to Dufour’s pressure.
“We played deny defense and I think that’s what we all did, we all just stood on our player and didn’t let them get the ball,” Dufour said.
“She changes games, and that’s what she did for us,” Sirois added.
Batchelder finished with nine points for Nokomis.