Cony’s Raegan Bechard works around Mt. Ararat High School’s Eliza Libby, left, and Elsa Daulerio during a game Monday in Augusta. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Even before the game began, Julia Reny knew it was going to be weird.

“I came into the JV game, and I was like ‘Whoa, this is very different,’ ” the Cony senior guard said.

No fans in the stands and masks on their faces didn’t prevent the Cony girls basketball team from opening the season with a dramatic 46-44 victory over Mt. Ararat, one that saw the Rams rally from deficits of 26-20 at halftime and 38-34 after three.

“I think everyone’s just so happy to be playing, and grateful to be getting somewhat of a season,” said Reny, who had 14 points and eight steals. “It was huge. Over the past few years, those have been the games we’ve lost.”

Reilley Fleck added 10 points for the Rams, while Elsa Daulerio had 13 points and 14 rebounds, and teammate Jaden Lohr had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Mt. Ararat.

The game came down to the wire, but the focus throughout the night was on the differences to a game being played during a pandemic. Players had to play with masks on throughout the game, and with no fans in attendance, the game had the appearance and sounds of a summer league scrimmage.

“It was just really good to be back playing,” Fleck said. “It’s been really hard to get used to. … (The weirdest thing was) the fact that it was so quiet in here.”

Lohr said the silence stood out to her early on.

“I think at first, yeah,” she said. “When you’re in the game, you don’t realize there are no fans, really. You just play. But it was a little different coming in, not having any fans or people you know in the stands. … (Considering) this was a very close game, fans would have been going crazy, but I think we still did a very good job.”

After the Eagles went ahead by six points at halftime, they seemed to be pulling away in the third, taking a 36-25 lead on Lohr’s short jumper with under three minutes to go in the quarter. But three straight baskets by Alyssa Redman, Fleck and Azabell Assaf before its conclusion got Cony back in it, and the Rams went ahead for good when Reny made a tie-breaking free throw and Raegan Bechard (five points) made a pair from the stripe for a 44-41 lead with 1:47 to go in the game.

The rebounding of Daulerio, who had eight boards in the fourth quarter, gave the Eagles chances down the stretch, but misses on seven of their last eight free throw attempts killed the rally.

“We worked hard, we’ve been working hard in practice non-stop, running and getting in shape,” Lohr said. “We’re in shape, we did well on the boards. Next time, (it’s about) pulling through the final minutes.”

Fleck said rallying late, and then holding off the Eagles’ charge, made for an ideal way to start the year.

“It was good to win, and start off in a better way than we did last season,” she said. “I’m really proud of us, actually. I think we did really good, working well together. We’ve come a long way since we started practicing.”

Team chemistry was a question mark this early in the season. Enthusiasm wasn’t. After wondering all summer, fall and into the winter if they’d have a chance to play, players were happy to have it. However different and odd it looked.

“(Energy) was pretty good,” Fleck said. “We haven’t played in so long. We’re all really happy to get back.”

“We’re going until we can’t,” Reny said. “You have to play every game like it could be your last. This would have been a great game to start, end, any time of the year.”

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