AUGUSTA — Edward Little put away the horrible memories a bit more quickly than Cony could process the emotion of its wonderful memories Tuesday night.
The Red Eddies never trailed and looked unstoppable in spurts, spoiling the Rams’ Senior Night with a 52-40 KVAC girls’ basketball win at Ryan Gym.
Ranked No. 1 in Class A East as it was a year ago at this time, EL (16-1) exorcised the lingering demons from a blowout loss to Cony in the 2013 regional quarterfinals. And the haunting history goes back farther than that.
“Absolutely a huge win on the road at a tough place to play. We’ve lost in the last seven seconds the past two years here,” EL coach Craig Jipson said. “We knew we’d have to play our ‘A’ game the entire game. They’re going to be a force in the tournament. They have some kids that are just absolute warriors.”
Younger and perhaps a bit bigger and stronger from the inside-out, the Red Eddies have their share of players who fit that description, too.
Lone senior Kory Norcross led all scorers with 19 points. Brooke Reynolds added 12 points and 14 rebounds, including a huge second-chance basket to start a 3-point play after Cony (12-6) cut the deficit to seven with 6:42 remaining.
Tianna Harriman added seven points and 11 assists, six of those in a first quarter that saw the Eddies explode to leads of 6-0 and 16-9.
“They’ve got a good one-two punch. You have to pick your poison and almost have to hope one of their girls is going to be off,” Cony coach Ted Rioux said. “And you have to hit shots. Fifty-two points is not what I’m worried about. It’s more the 40 points.”
Cony sputtered to 4-for-30 from the field in the first half and 14-for-59 (24 percent) overall.
Emily Quirion led the Rams with 12 points, seven in the fourth quarter, to go with a team-high 11 rebounds. Alyssah Dennett delivered 10 points, highlighted by three of Cony’s seven 3-pointers.
Seven seniors played in their final home game for Cony, which reached the Eastern championship a year ago.
“They were crying in the locker room pre-game. They were crying during warm-up. It’s a group of seven seniors that have been best friends since third grade,” Rioux said. “I just think it was a lot of emotion for 17-year-old girls to know how to deal with. But they did a nice job. It was a great game all the way through. They competed. (EL is) a great basketball team.”
Mutually cold shooting and EL’s difficulty taking care of the basketball kept Cony alive through the second quarter.
Neither team hit a field goal over the final five minutes. Norcross’ early drive and one free throw by Reynolds with 1:50 to go guarded the Eddies’ 19-13 edge at the break.
“We just talked about how we need to keep our focus,” Norcross said. “Even though we may have a lead, we have to get on their 3-point shot and make sure we keep that lead.”
Dennett was the only Cony player to hit a 3-pointer in either the second or third quarter — one in each segment.
Emily Jacques and Harriman combined for 10 straight points to make it 31-15 with 3:39 to go.
Jacques then departed with a left knee injury after a collision in the backcourt. EL kept up the blistering pace for a while, with the lead cresting at 37-20 on a Norcross 3-pointer before the Rams made their expected rally.
“They cut it to seven after we had been up by I think as much as (17), and Emily had gone down, and I told the girls I’m really proud they didn’t fold there,” Jipson said. “They kept playing hard. All season long we’ve kept finding a way to win. We haven’t been blowing people out.”
Putbacks by Bayleigh Logan and Abby Wormell made it 37-24 at the end of the third. Back-to-back 3s by Dennett and Emily Quirion in the opening minute of the fourth had EL reeling.
Reynolds snagged one miss, then collected her own before cashing in the hoop-and-harm. Her free throw pushed the lead back to double digits, where it stayed.
“I think this has become the Red Sox-Yankees, Duke-North Carolina (in the KVAC),” Jipson said. “When I first went to Edward Little we were absolutely terrible. This was the program we emulated. When we beat the team with Cassie Cooper, it kind of gave us a kickstart. They’ve been the best girls’ basketball program in the state the past 30 years. We would love to be that for the next 30.”