Kyle Douin of Cony, right, takes a step towards the basket while Brandon Emerson of Mt. Ararat, left, defends, during a boys basketball game between Cony and Mt. Ararat on Monday night in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

TOPSHAM — Five years ago when School Administrative District 75 approved a new high school to be constructed, no one involved could have considered this is how the first home basketball game would be occurring. On the opening night of the 2021 winter high school sports season, Mt. Ararat opened its new gym to the visiting Rams of Cony. 

While it may have been different to the setting they are accustomed to, both the players and coaches felt fortunate to have the opportunity to compete on the hardwood. 

Not only was it the first game of the season for both sides, but it was also the inaugural game in the new gymnasium at the new Mt. Ararat High School building. Kyle Douin scored a team-high 17 points as Cony earned the 78-62 victory.

Ty Henke of Mt. Ararat, right, looks to pass over Kameron Douin of Cony, left, during a boys basketball game between Cony and Mt. Ararat on Monday night in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

“We’re so thankful to be out here, I truly feel for my coaching friends who aren’t able to play right now,” said Cony head coach T.J. Maines. “These guys worked so hard all offseason, so to be able to compete against another school is something we really needed.”

For head coach Dave Dubreuil and the Eagles, it was a long time coming. 

“The new gym is awesome, there’s nothing like playing some basketball on some new wooden floors,” said Dubreuil.

With all the modifications in place, players and coaches agreed on what seemed to stand out the most compared to a normal season: No spectators allowed. 

“It felt so bizarre with no crowd, it kind of felt like an open gym or a scrimmage,” said Douin, a senior. “You can hear everything that goes on, which means we have to bring more energy and thrive off of the guys on our bench now.”

Besides no spectators, other modifications of note include masks being worn by players and coaches at all times, and there are no tip-offs to start the game. 

“I really miss our fans and having that type of environment, I wish they were able to experience this beautiful new gymnasium,” added Dubreuil.

The Rams jumped out to a quick lead in the first quarter, and caused all sorts of problems for the Eagles’ offense with their full-court press, resulting in several easy buckets in transition, and took a commanding 28-10 lead into the second quarter. 

The Eagles were up to the challenge, however, and clawed their way back in the second quarter, outscoring the Rams 25-13 in the frame. 

“We matched their energy in the second quarter and our shots started to fall,” said Dubreuil. “We were just a little rusty, and knocked that off quickly.”

John Martin of Mt. Ararat looks to make a pass in a game against Cony on Monday night in Topsham. Eli Canfield/Times Record

The Eagles shots did start to fall, pouring in four three-pointers in the second quarter and trimming the Cony lead to just nine by the time halftime arrived.

When the second half was underway, both teams picked up their defense, resulting in just 26 combined third quarter points between the two sides. 

“We played some spurts of fantastic defense tonight, now we just have to build on what we did and have that occur more often,” said Maines.

In the fourth quarter, the Rams were doing everything they could to put the game out of reach, but the Eagles wouldn’t go away, until Douin took matters into his own hands, scoring nine of Cony’s 20 fourth quarter points. 

“We just continued to run our offense, I got good looks and received good passes from my teammates,” added Douin.

The Eagles were led by junior forward Ty Henke, who scored a game-high 20 points. Junior forward Brandon Emerson added 16 points, and Jace Hollenbach had 12. 

Besides Douin, Cony was paced by Brodi Freeman with 13, with eight coming in the first quarter alone. Brady Hopkins and Kameron Douin each added 11 points apiece. 

“We’re just going to keep our heads down and keep putting in the work in preparation for our next game. We’ll be back at it tomorrow” said Dubreuil. 

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