AUGUSTA – For a moment, Paul Vachon thought he might be reliving a nightmare.

When Messalonskee’s Chelsea Barker drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie Friday’s Eastern A championship game, the Cony girls’ basketball coach couldn’t help be reminded of his battles with Lawrence and watching Cindy Blodgett shoot out the lights on his Rams.

Despite the outstanding second half for Barker, Cony outlasted the Eagles in overtime in a 63-60 win. It is the fourth straight regional title for Cony (19-2).

“She was phenomenal,” said Vachon. “I was just telling Bruce (Cooper, former Lawrence girls’ coach) that that reminded me of someone else a long time ago, and I didn’t want to relive that one.

“That was one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time.”

Barker finished with 28 points, all after halftime. She had 14 in the final quarter to help Messalonskee overcome a Cony lead and force overtime.

Her shot at the buzzer came with two Cony Rams hanging over her.

With no other option, Barker leaned back and fired from the top of the key to tie it.

“That one she had at the buzzer, that’s one of those that will go down in tournament history,” said Messalonskee coach Brenda Beckwith. “Unfortunately, you don’t write about the losing team making that shot.

“That was a heck of a shot that she made to get us into overtime.”

From there, the top-ranked Eagles (19-2) couldn’t keep the momentum going. Cassie Cooper scored first, helping Cony control the extra session.

Messalonskee was forced to play catchup.

After Chelsea Barker hit a 3-pointer to get the Eagles to within 61-60 with 47 seconds left, Kristi Violette and Rachael Mack each hit a free throw to extend Cony’s lead, but the Eagles couldn’t produce another buzzer-beater.

Messalonskee set up a shot from Jessica Bridges from the left side that hit the rim. After retaining possession, the Eagles got an inbounds pass into the paint but got swallowed by the Cony defense in the closing seconds.

“(Bridges) had a great look,” said Beckwith. “What more can you ask. Later in the game, we should have kicked the ball out, but the kid got stuck inside with two 6-foo-1 or 6-foot-3 kids hovering over her and the game was over.”

Violette led the Rams with 26 points while Mack added 17. Cooper finished with 13 after battling foul trouble for much of the second half.

“We just couldn’t answer their height inside,” said Beckwith.

After a 14-8 lead in the first quarter, Cony broke things open with a 17-6 second quarter. Messalonskee shot 3-for-14 in each of the first two quarters and watched Cony’s size and defense put the Eagles in a hole with a 15-2 run.

Messalonskee rallied in the second half. With Cooper on the bench with four fouls, the Rams struggled to maintain composure and the lead. The Eagles scored eight straight early in the fourth to get within three. Though Cony built the lead back to 10, Messalonskee finished regulation with a 14-4 run, sparked by 10 points from Barker.


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