AUGUSTA — Waynflete against Winthrop became willpower versus willpower in overtime at Augusta Civic Center on Saturday night.

The Flyers’ Milo Belleau and the Ramblers’ Jacob Hickey have been the straws that stirred the respective drinks and the spice that flavored two tasty dishes in Class C South all winter, so it is no surprise that they were mightily involved in settling the regional title.

Hickey’s 11-point fourth quarter rallied Winthrop from an eight-point deficit in a game that often was hard on the eyes. It was Belleau, though, who found Will Nelligan for a go-ahead 3-pointer, sank two free throws, and blocked a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer to seal a 43-41 win.

Waynflete (19-2) won Class C South for the second time in three years and will host George Stevens Academy here for the Gold Ball at 8:45 p.m. next Saturday night. Junior-dominated Winthrop concludes at 17-4.

“It only made sense you have to deal with that type of intensity,” Belleau said. “You’re playing in a regional final. It’s not going to be easy.”

Belleau led the Flyers with 12 points. Nelligan, whose chief contribution was blanket-like defense on Hickey all night, added 11. Yai Deng also scored 11 points to go with 16 rebounds.

Hickey, who had only five points with six minutes remaining in regulation, finished with 18 and was named winner of the Harry Edwards Award as outstanding player and sportsman of the tournament.

Under suffocating pressure and the watchful eyes of a partisan Ramblers’ crowd, Hickey sank two free throws with 3.5 seconds remaining to force overtime.

“It says a lot about those guys in that locker room. I think we were dead in the water,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said. “They did what this team’s been doing all year. They dug deep, showed their resilience, fought back and had a chance.”

Bennett Brooks stole the ball after a Waynflete timeout and got off an off-balance 25-footer at the buzzer that was well off the mark.

Hickey’s jumper, then a fast break bucket by Brooks off a Spencer Steele theft, gave Winthrop a 39-36 edge in OT.

Christian Brooks’ offensive rebound led to an Abel Alemayo basket, cutting the Flyers’ deficit to one.

Winthrop was one-and-done from mid-range on two consecutive trips to open the door for Waynflete.

Nelligan’s 3-pointer made it 41-39 with 1:21 to go. Belleau, who missed two free throws after a Hickey 3-pointer cut the Waynflete lead to two late in regulation, swished two this time to make it a two-possession game.

“The first one was just off. I didn’t get any free throws in the second half before that, and I didn’t have a rhythm,” Belleau said. “I was a little nervous after that, but we stayed together and it just goes to show.”

Hickey launched a try for the win from beyond the arc with three seconds left. Brooks corraled the rebound, but Belleau batted down the retry with both open hands to touch off the Flyers’ celebration,

The Flyers led by as many as a dozen in the third quarter and eight, 32-24, with 4:30 left in the fourth.

“Their pressure defense was very effective, got us on our heels, and they have a great shooter,” Waynflete coach Rich Henry said. “Sooner or later, he was going to make some shots.”

Winthrop forced Waynflete, which committed only five turnovers in the semifinal round, into 25 giveaways.

“We play Class A teams in the preseason and we do a pretty good job turning those teams over,” MacArthur said. “It takes all five guys to make our defense work.”

Garrett Tsouprake finished with nine points and Brooks eight for the Ramblers, who will graduate only one senior starter in Anthony Owens.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.