Winthrop’s Spencer Steele, left, and Andrew Pazdziorko celebrate after defeating Madison to advance to Saturday’s state championship game in Bangor.

Winthrop’s Spencer Steele, left, and Andrew Pazdziorko celebrate after defeating Madison to advance to Saturday’s state championship game in Bangor.

Even though the coach’s last name is MacArthur, Winthrop’s mantra this season hasn’t been “I shall return.”

It’s “15 over 1.”

That’s how the Ramblers recovered from a crushing overtime loss to Waynflete in last year’s C South final and reached their goal of winning the school’s first regional title since 2008.

“It’s a special group,” coach Todd MacArthur said following his team’s 58-42 win over Madison on Saturday night. “We play a lot of kids. In today’s generation, where parents and players only think about one instead of 15, there’s a lot of kids here that think about 15 over one. They truly exemplify ‘we’ over ‘me.'”

“That’s what’s so great about this team. Everybody contributes,” senior forward Garrett Tsouprake said. “In practice, in games, we play everybody. Everybody works hard and makes each other better.”

It helps that that Winthrop has a senior core that has been building to this moment since it lost to Maranacook in the regional semifinals as sophomores. Although they are 21-0 and haven’t had many tenuous late leads this season, the Ramblers were quick to regroup after a perilous fourth-quarter sequence where Madison pulled within seven points and tournament MVP Jacob Hickey drew his fourth foul

“As a group, we’ve been in that position before. I think we knew as a group we had to execute well,” said Hickey, a senior guard.”The crowd’s going nuts. You can’t really hear anybody. So I think just going into practice every day and knowing what each other does … We’ve played together so long, I think we knew what each other was going to do,” he added. “We knew the guys we needed to get the ball to in order to execute and get the game in a position to where we could win.”

“From the experience that we had last year, that was a run that got us on our heels a little bit, but we kept our composure,” senior forward Garrett Tsouprake said.

Hickey finished with 26 points to earn his second C. Harry Edwards Award in a row, but there were many other unsung performances from fellow seniors such as Bennett Brooks, Spencer Steele, Andrew Pazdziorko and Tsouprake. The latter finished with 19 points and also did an outstanding job defending Madison star Mitch Jarvais, holding him to six points.

“That’s a complete job. I love that kid,” MacArthur said of Tsouprake. “I told him this week, I said, he’s my guy. He’s been with me four years. If this ship is ever sinking, I’m going down with him because I believe in that kid.”

Free-throw frenzy

Monmouth Academy girls’ coach Scott Wing had a flashback when he was informed his Mustangs set a new C South tournament record by making 30 free throws in their impressive 65-25 win over Old Orchard Beach in the C South girls’ final Saturday night.

“I think my boys’ team still holds the record,” he said.

Indeed, Wing was the coach of the 1997 Monmouth boys team that holds the Class D South record for free throws in one game with 34.

On Saturday, the Mustangs converted 30 of 38 attempts. Julia Johnson and Abbey Allen were outstanding from the line, making 10 of 10 and nine of 10, respectively. Hannah Anderson made six of eight.

Unfortunately, the Maine Principals’ Association record books, compiled by the estimable Robert E. Butler, don’t list the team with the fewest turnovers in a regional tournament, but the 2017 Mustangs might hold that mark, too. 

“I don’t think we had very many turnovers this entire tournament,” Wing said. “When you have a point guard like Tia Day, and then we have two other girls who  are pretty good point guards, too, that play on the wings, then that helps a lot.”

Second-half push

When the Gray-New Gloucester girls’ team found itself in a tight game against Lake Region in the B South semifinals Thursday, it was, coach Mike Andreasen said, the Patriots’ first legitimate close-at-the-end game this season.

And, when he looked at his team, he saw some panic.

The Patriots outlasted the Lakers to win 33-29.

Against Lincoln Academy in the B South final Saturday, Gray-NG was again in a close contest in the second half.

The Patriots were quick learners of Thursday’s lesson, and on Saturday they were unfazed. They went on an 11-0 run over the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth that essentially put the game away.

“I think in the second half, the idea becomes more real that this could be our last game, and especially as a senior,” Gray-NG senior Izzy DeTroy said. “So that push and that desire for it not to be our last game, and for us to not end in a regional final kind of helped push us through and keep our minds focused on what we wanted to.”

Noble Knights

Lincoln Academy star Bri Wajer was impressed by Poland in the Eagles’ 62-52 win in the semifinals Thursday.

The junior-heavy Knights got in foul trouble and fell behind by as many as 14 points, but they continued to battle, closing the gap to six or seven points a few times in the second half.

“Even though they got in foul trouble, those kids fought,” Wajer said. “I have the utmost respect for those kids on that team. What a great team. They’re all high-character kids, patting us on the back, helping us up off the floor.

“I can’t say enough good things about that team. That’s going to be a great team in the future.”

Monmouth’s Hannah Anderson draws a foul from Old Orchard Beach’s Brianna Plante as she heads to the basket during the first half of Saturday night’s regional at the Augusta Civic Center.

Monmouth’s Hannah Anderson draws a foul from Old Orchard Beach’s Brianna Plante as she heads to the basket during the first half of Saturday night’s regional at the Augusta Civic Center.

Gray-New Gloucester’s Brianna Jordan blocks a shot by Lincoln Academy’s Chelsea Williams during the second half of the Patriots’ Class B South regional championship victory at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Saturday afternoon.

Gray-New Gloucester’s Brianna Jordan blocks a shot by Lincoln Academy’s Chelsea Williams during the second half of the Patriots’ Class B South regional championship victory at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Saturday afternoon.

Poland’s Nathalie Theriault drives to the basket for an uncontested layup during Thursday’s playoff game in Portland against Lincoln Academy.

Poland’s Nathalie Theriault drives to the basket for an uncontested layup during Thursday’s playoff game in Portland against Lincoln Academy.

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