AUGUSTA — Last Friday night, Tianna Harriman wasn’t quite herself.
Despite a gutsy effort against Mt. Blue, she admittedly was feeling sick and achy.
Wednesday was a different story. The EL junior had plenty of energy and was a spark for the Red Eddies.
“I felt so ready,” Harriman said. “I was all pumped up coming in here and ready to play.”
The same could be said for her teammates. After barely getting past the Cougars in the quarterfinals, EL left little to doubt against Cony, coming out strong in a 61-43 win over the Rams in Wednesday’s Eastern Class A semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center.
The Red Eddies (19-1) advance to Friday’s Eastern A final, where they will face Oxford Hills.
“Cony has ended our season the last two years,” said EL coach Craig Jipson, whose team lost to the Rams two years ago in the regional final and last year in the quarters. “They’ve been a great basketball team. I have so much respect for them and their program. We knew we were going to have to step up our game. I couldn’t have scripted the start that we had. We shot the ball really well and they got a little bit frustrated.”
EL opened the lead with a 11-3 run in the first and then built a 22-point advantage in the second with 14 consecutive points. The closest Cony could get after that was 16 points in the fourth.
“We were all talking about coming together as a team,” Harriman said. “We lost to them last year. We weren’t going to lose this game.”
Emily Jacques led EL with 19 points. Harriman added 11 and Brooke Reynolds chipped in 10. Eraleena Hairston added nine, while Kory Norcross finished with seven.
Cony (13-7) got 17 points from Haley Quirion. Bayleigh Logan had nine and EL held Emily Quirion to eight.
“Calli Murray and Sarah Hammond did a phenomenal job in the box and one,” Jipson said. “I have so much respect for Emily Quirion. She’s such a great player. She’s got the heart of a warrior. She kind of went off in the last game, so we came out in the box and one and really settled down.”
EL shot 6-for-11 in the first quarter while Cony was 3-for-8. The Red Eddies built the early lead with baskets by Jacques and Reynolds inside.
“We were focused on getting the ball to the post players because we’re bigger than them,” Harriman said. “So we kept dishing it in or penetrating and dishing it.”
EL also hit from the outside getting 3s from Molly Murray, Harriman and Norcross in the first half.
“This team has had so much character all year long,” Jipson said. “They’ve been able to weather storms when we had a lead and someone came back. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
After a Logan basket, making it 6-3, EL ran off an 11-3 run. Hairston converted a three-point play. Then Murray hit a 3. After a Logan 3, Harriman hit a 3 of her own. A Calli Murray steal made it 17-5 before a Haley Quirion 3 made it 17-8 after one.
In the second, EL started the quarter with 14 straight. Norcross had an early 3. Reynolds scored five during that stretch while Jacques and Harriman contributed baskets off steals.
EL shot 7-for-13 in the second while Cony missed its first six shots and finished 4-for-12.
The lead was 36-17 at the half and 50-25 after three. Cony made a run in the fourth with eight straight from Haley Quirion and got within 53-37 but EL got free throws from Reynolds, Harriman and Jacques to finish off the win.
“We had a lot of kids coming up big,” Jipson said. “When we were up by 25, I knew Cony had one more run in them, and we weathered it.”