BREWER, Maine — The high school basketball postseason may be two weeks away, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the Brewer and Cony of Augusta boys teams battle for the full 32 minutes Thursday night.
It wasn’t until the final buzzer sounded and a last-second shot by Brewer fell off the front of the rim that Cony emerged with a 56-55 victory, enhancing its bid to secure a home game in the preliminary round of the upcoming Class A North tournament.
Cony, which entered the game seeded ninth in the division, improved its record to 7-8 with its second victory of the season over Brewer, and the Witches, seeded eighth as the night began, fell to 6-10 after suffering its third straight loss.
“This was a big game for both of us as far as the playoffs go,” said Cony coach T.J. Maines of the game, which based on the seedings would have been a prelim contest at the same location had the season just ended. “We want at the very worst to be hosting a prelim game, that’s what we’re striving for, so we’ll take it one game at a time.
“The kids knew what was at stake even before the game. I’m proud of them,” he said.
Cony took a 52-44 lead into the final period after Nate Parlin made all three free throws after being fouled while attempting to beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 3-point try.
But the Rams managed just one point over the next 5 minutes, 48 seconds, and Brewer scored nine points during that span including a game-tying 3-pointer by Michael Bailey and a Brandon Glidden layup off a 30-foot pass from Cam Wood to give the Witches a 55-53 edge with 2:24 remaining.
Cony finally ended its 6:57 field-goal drought as Taylor Heath buried a 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key to give the Rams back the lead with 2:12 left.
Those were the game’s final points.
Both teams had multiple possessions in the late going but were unable to convert, with Brewer getting the last chance with 3.1 seconds left after an errant Cony clearing pass went out of bounds on the left wing some 35 feet from the basket.
Brewer sophomore guard Isaac Cummings got off the final shot, a 22-foot jumper from the left of the key that bounced off the rim as time expired.
“We executed defensively coming out, and if they beat us throwing it back to the inbounder, that’s OK, but we were not going to allow anything to the rim,” said Maines. “The guys took that away, it kind of worked out the way we hoped it would, and luckily the shot was a little bit off.”
Kolton Vining led Cony’s offense with 11 points, including three of the Rams’ eight 3-pointers. Nate Parlin added 10 points, and Heath finished with nine.
Kobe Rogerson scored a team-high 11 points for Brewer, junior forward Nate Laskey came off the bench to score 10 points, and Bailey and Cam Wood contributed nine points each.
Cony, with its fast-paced, heavy-substitution approach that features full-court defensive pressure and plenty of 3-pointers on offense, jumped out to an 11-2 lead on Parlin’s 3-pointer midway through the first quarter.
But Brewer settled down and used seven unanswered points to draw within 15-11 by the end of the period.
The Cony lead was 33-31 at halftime, and after Rogerson hit a 3-pointer and Wood made two free throws to tie the game at 36-36 a minute into the second half, the Rams used four three-point possessions to seemingly take control.
Bryan Stratton converted a three-point play off an inbounds pass to give Cony back the lead at 39-36, and Austin Parlin sandwiched two 3-pointers around a layup by Vining, and Nate Parlin followed a 15-foot jumper by Amahde Carter with his three straight free throws to close out the third quarter with the Rams holding an eight-point advantage.