May 26, 2018
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Bangor boys basketball team gets a needed victory over Cony

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Two teams with the same nickname arrived in the same location Thursday evening needing the same thing — a win.

But it was the Bangor Rams that achieved that goal, pulling away in the second half for a 60-47 Class A boys basketball victory over the Cony Rams of Augusta at Red Barry Gymnasium.

Coach Ed Kohtala’s club, coming off back-to-back losses at Lawrence of Fairfield and undefeated Hampden Academy, improved its record to 6-4 heading into Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Brewer at the Cross Insurance Center.

“It’s good to get a ‘W,’” said Bangor senior guard Alex Campbell. “Now we’re going to try to get on a good winning streak.”

Bangor was playing without sharpshooting senior guard Garrett Johnson, who broke his right hand during the 74-48 loss to Hampden on Tuesday night.

So instead of relying on the 3-point shot that has been an offensive staple this season, Bangor used press-breaking attacks on the basket, a hot third-quarter stretch by Campbell and the finishing ability of senior center Connor Adams to establish a double-digit lead for nearly all of the second half.

Bangor’s advantage was 26-18 at intermission before Campbell erupted for 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field over the game’s next eight minutes to help his team stretch the margin out to 45-29 by the end of the third period.

“I’m a little streaky, that’s a good way to put it,” said Campbell, whose personal run was highlighted by an NBA-range 3-pointer. “I got a few shots to go down and that was nice, and then it just seemed like I was in a better rhythm.”

Cony, now 3-7, did draw within 47-38 on an offensive rebound and three-point play by Alexander Neill with 4:06 left in the game, but Campbell fed Adams for a layup and senior guard Xavier Lewis made a 3-pointer from the key to enable Bangor to regain the momentum.

“The only time we showed any energy was when we were down 16 coming out of a timeout and got it to 10 and had free throws twice to get it under that,” said T.J. Maines, the former Thomas College coach in his first season at Cony. “I thought maybe we could have turned a corner there and I was proud of them for coming out of it at that point but it was too little, too late for us and the season’s getting late for us to be playing this way.”

Adams, who cashed in repeatedly on high-percentage shots after Bangor broke Cony’s fullcourt pressure, finished with a game-high 20 points, while Campbell had 16 points, six rebounds, five steals and two blocks and Lewis scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds.

Junior guard Liam Stokes led Cony — which was playing without starting point guard Ben Leet for the second straight game due to a foot issue — with 18 points.

Cony preferred to play this game at a fast pace but was unable to generate any sustained transition offense thanks in large part to Bangor’s effective transition defense.

“The tempo was pretty fast,” said Campbell. “They were always running so we had to get back or there were going to be leakages and they were going to get fast-break points.”

Bangor moved out to an 8-2 lead as Cony committed five early turnovers, another reason the Capital City club was unable to sustain its attack.

Cony committed 19 turnovers during the game compared to 16 for Bangor, and Bangor also outrebounded the visitors 14-5 in the first half while building its lead.

“We’re a not a good enough team right now not to have a big differential in the turnover department,” said Maines. “And they killed us on the glass in the first half, and that’s a recipe for a loss.”

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