WINTHROP – The Winthrop High School girls’ basketball team that has won six of its last seven Mountain Valley Conference games showed up Monday night. The Mountain Valley High School bunch that has pushed most of the MVC leaders to the limit this winter was nowhere to be seen, physically or mentally.

Consequently, what could have been a terrific, inter-class showdown in the final week of the regular season turned ugly, and the Ramblers rolled, 51-28.

Emilie Knight led the Ramblers with 12 points, six rebounds, five steals and four blocked shots before watching the entire fourth quarter from the bench. Katie Pushard added 11 points, five rebounds and five steals and also received an early respite.

That’s when Winthrop (13-4) let off the accelerator and essentially started preparing for a huge tournament tune-up at unbeaten Hall-Dale on Wednesday night.

“It’s only the next game,” insisted Winthrop coach Sam Farrell, whose team lost to Hall-Dale 70-59 on Jan. 13, before making a late-season run at a bye in the first round of the Western Class C tournament.

An upset of the Bulldogs probably would propel the Ramblers into the top three, but they’ll do no worse than host a preliminary round game next week.

Mountain Valley (7-10) watched its best chance to escape the Western Class B prelims go by the boards with the one-sided defeat, only three nights after a 47-44 loss to 11-time defending Western C champ Dirigo.

Kristen Arsenault paced the Falcons with eight points and eight rebounds in limited playing time. The senior guard battled flu-like symptoms. To make matters worse, she was inadvertently poked in the eye early in the game.

“Like the trooper she is, she tried to play through it,” said Mountain Valley coach Wade McLaughlin. “I’m not making any excuses. You can’t turn the ball over 33 times in the MVC against anybody and expect to win, especially on the road.”

In addition to the unforced errors, Mountain Valley shot only 10-for-41 from the field.

Winthrop outscored Mountain Valley 21-2 in the second period to transform an 11-9 deficit into a 30-13 halftime lead. Amanda Garwood, Pushard and Knight scored seven unanswered points on the Ramblers’ first three shots of the stanza.

Arsenault’s hook shot in the paint took a friendly roll to bring the Falcons within three, but back-to-back open trifectas by freshman Lindsey Gordon (eight points) sent Winthrop on its way. Knight scored four more points before the half.

Knight and Garwood (four steals) led the resistance as Winthrop held its opponent under 30 points for the third time. Only Meagan Maifield’s jumper with 15 seconds remaining prevented the Ramblers from permitting their lowest total of the winter.

“These girls take great pride in their defense,” said Farrell. “They play hard no matter what the score is.”

Devon Allen and Tanya Martin added five points each for the Falcons. Christie Volkernick and Vanessa Cayer combined for seven steals.

“I’m glad there were five scouts watching that game, to be honest,” McLaughlin said, referring to a slew of potential Class B tournament opponents who were taking notes. “We lost to Dirigo by three and Dirigo beat (Winthrop) by 14, so I thought we’d at least give them a game.”


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