AUGUSTA — Throw out the seeds. Throw out the record books. And cross No. 1 Edward Little out of your Eastern Class A girls’ basketball bracket, thanks to a tournament-tested Cony club that looked like anything but a No. 9.
The defending regional champion Rams took the lead with their final basket of the first quarter and padded it throughout, ultimately routing the Red Eddies, 52-35, at Augusta Civic Center.
Early shots didn’t fall for EL (15-4). Heads subsequently dropped, and the night quickly unraveled from bad to worse.
EL shot 15-for-70 (21 percent) from the field. Using the rambunctious rotation of Alyssah Dennett and Olivia Deeves, Cony (13-7) held 1,000-point scorer Ashlee Arnold to six points and no field goals after the 2:40 mark of the first quarter.
“The thing that’s really disappointing, and I’ve kept really good stats for the past eight years, is that the one thing we’ve done well is shoot the ball great. And tonight in a lot of ways that’s the one thing we didn’t do,” EL coach Craig Jipson said. “Our defense wasn’t bad, but the only thing we couldn’t do tonight is score.”
Kory Norcross scored eight points and Tianna Harriman had seven to lead the Red Eddies, who became the second top seed to fall in the quarterfinals in three years. Messalonskee upset Morse in 2011.
It’s hard to classify this one as a monumental shocker. Cony split with EL during the KVAC campaign.
Lone senior Josie Lee willed the Rams to victory with 16 points, 20 rebounds, four steals and a resounding, exclamation-point blocked shot in the final two minutes.
“She was just fantastic. When we needed that extra rebound, she got it. When we needed that basket, she got it. When we needed that pass, she did it,” Cony coach Karen Magnusson said of Lee. “That junior group really listens to her, and I think we go as far as Josie takes us.”
Among those juniors: Hayley Quirion, who knocked down five 3-pointers and led Cony with 17 points; and Emily Quirion, who scored seven of her 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Cony’s lead was 28-22 at the half and a slimmer 36-31 with eight minutes to play. Hayley Quirion’s fifth trifecta ended the Rams’ dry spell to commence the final period.
Norcross answered Lee’s free throw with an inside bucket to get the Eddies within seven, but the Quirions rang up six straight points to trigger the 9-0 run that iced it.
Emily Quirion sank three of four free throws in the stretch, and Dennett feasted on her just desserts for the tireless defensive effort with a breakaway layup.
“That was her focus. Alyssah was probably so exhausted that she couldn’t do much on offense, but we talked about how her defense was just as important at that point,” Magnusson said. “You just focus on what you need to win.”
EL was held to four points on 2-for-19 shooting in the fourth quarter, but the damage had been done long before that.
Arnold notched five and Norcross four in the first period. Harriman’s drive furnished the Eddies’ second and final lead of the night at 13-12 with 1:21 to go,
Emily Quirion drove the lane and dished to Bayleigh Logan for the go-ahead deuce.
The Eddies went nearly four minutes without a field goal in the second. In the meantime, Emily Quirion’s drive, Lee’s third-chance putback and a Hayley Quirion trey from in front of the EL bench sent the Rams on their way.
Hayley Quirion rang up two more threes in a 45-second span, pushing the lead to double digits for the first time.
“We did give up some second shots, and they’ve hurt us on offensive rebounding before,” Jipson said. “But Cony shot about how well they’ve shot. We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”
Baskets by Kate Sawyer and Harriman cut the deficit to six at the break.
Steals by Harriman and Sawyer led to transition buckets by Emily Jacques, sandwiched around an Arnold free throw, to make it 32-29 with two minutes left in the third.
Logan and Lee answered with back-to-back scores down low.
“We said (at halftime) that good teams make runs, and that even if we make turnovers, we need to set our tempo,” Magnusson said. “Even if they tie it up, we’re going to make our run.”
Arnold and Sawyer will be the only EL seniors lost to graduation.
The Eddies earned their first top seed in 21 years after losing to Cony in last year’s final.
“It’s a good season, but we’ve got to get better at some things,” Jipson said. “We need to grow up some in this situation and take the next step. We only lose two kids, but we lose about 1,700 points with them.”