WINTHROP — With each hard-working and pesky effort, a rally was the result.

To start each of the final two quarters Monday night, the Winthrop girls’ basketball team made a surge that got them right back into the ballgame.

Inevitablely, the Ramblers rally would be short lived. The resurgence would lead to a sigh of relief. That’s when Georges Valley took advantage of a relaxed Winthrop team and broke the game open again.

It was a late run in the third that answered a Rambler rally and it was a strong finish down the stretch that finalized a 61-44 win for the Bucs.

“All of a sudden, we’d lose focus,” Winthrop coach Ray Convery said. “We’d lose a girl (defensively) or somebody would just do something and we’d suddenly not pay attention.”

Winthrop rallied from a nine-point deficit to tie the game in the third and then erased another Georges Valley lead in the fourth to get within five. Each time, the Bucs answered and took advantage of Rambler letdowns.

“We had mental breakdowns,” said Convery. “We just lost focus on what we were doing.”

Both Georges Valley (8-5) and Winthrop (6-7) are battling to secure the final playoff spots in Western C. The Bucs were ranked eighth coming in while the Ramblers were ninth.

“We had a hard loss against Livermore Falls the other day,” said Bucs coach Dwight Henry of a two-point loss to the top-ranked Andies. “We were ahead the whole way practically until I lost two girls to fouls.”

The Bucs were without starter Katlyn Rich to an illness and had Jill Bradbury and Jessica Veilleux nursing fouls late in the game. Veilleux finished with 18 while Kennadi Grover added 15. Bradbury had 14, including seven in the fourth.

About half a dozen Buc baskets in the game came off inbounds plays. Georges Valley took advantage of a lapse in defense and score quickly off the inbounds pass.

“My philosophy is that if you get 20 baskets in a game, you have a pretty good chance of winning,” said Henry. “You have opportunities to score off the jump balls and on out of bounds plays. I see a lot of teams will just try to get the ball in. We try to score on it.”

Winthrop got 14 points each from Nikki Scott and Sasha Flaherty. Sarah Warner added seven.

The Ramblers were without Kelsey Nason for much of the first half with foul trouble. When Scott, who had nine of Winthrop’s 18 first half points, came out late in the second quarter, the Bucs took advantage with an 8-1 run. The lead was up to nine points before Winthrop trailed 26-18 at the half.

The Ramblers did a fine job defensively to start the third and got some shots to fall. That 11-3 run erased the deficit. Warner had a 3 during that stretch and Nason had a pair of baskets. Winthrop even took the lead on a Scott 3 late in the quarter, but the Bucs answered with seven consecutive points and had a 41-36 advantage after three.

“We don’t score well enough to be able to not play smart,” said Convery, whose team was plagued by nearly 30 turnovers. “Sometimes we didn’t play very smart.”

In the fourth, Winthrop got within five twice on baskets by Scott and Warner. After making it 45-40 with 6:48 left, the Ramblers had a bad turnover and foul on a fast break basket by Bradbury. Her free throw attempt for a three-point play missed, but Winthrop was caught unaware. The Bucs got the rebound and drew the foul, leading to a Colleen Haskell free throw. From there, the Bucs scored eight straight during a 14-2 run late in the quarter.

“They’re a good team,” said Convery, whose team lost to the Bucs 39-23 earlier in the year. “We had trouble with their size. They just played better than we did.”

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