Aaliyah WilsonFalcone goes up for a layup during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Aaliyah WilsonFalcone goes up for a layup during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

WINTHROP — Winthrop coaches and administration weren’t sure they last time the school’s girls’ basketball team had beaten Monmouth Academy, but it almost didn’t matter. The Ramblers celebrated Thursday night’s 58-54 win like it was a lifetime achievement.

Jillian Schmelzer scored all of her team-high 16 points in the second half to snag what school officials believe was the Ramblers first win over the Mustangs in at least six years. Aaliyah WilsonFalcone added 13 points and Kena Souza 12 points for the Ramblers, who improve to 3-0.

“We had a goal, and in the second half, that was our last chance. We only play them once this season, so we wanted to make it count,” Schmelzer said. “It just gave me that confidence to do whatever I could to help the team out.”

“We brought back 11 from last year, so we got to hit the ground running a little bit,” Winthrop coach Joe Burnham said. “At this point in the season, we’re certainly further along that we’ve ever been with our teamwork and communication.”

Kaeti Butterfield led Monmouth (1-2) with a game-high 21 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Libby Clement added nine points for the Mustangs.

Winthrop went on a 10-4 run in the fourth quarter to take command of what, to that point, had been a tense, back-and-forth game.

“We tend to go a little fast, a little too fast sometimes,” Schmelzer said. “But we knew what we had to do, which was work the ball around and be patient, and just make good decisions.”

Schmelzer scored the first hoop of the quarter to put the Ramblers in front for good, 38-36, then followed that by whipping a bullet pass underneath to Natalie Frost for a layup and the resulting free throw.

“We just used our athleticism tonight to get to the rim, and once they started collapsing on that, then our 3-pointers started to hit,” Burnham said.

“They moved incredibly well without the ball tonight,” he added. “It’s something that we’ve certainly been working on, but it’s those girls keeping 32 minutes of focus and knowing what they had to do in order to win a game like this.”

Schmelzer made it 43-36 with a driving layup before Butterfield answered for Monmouth with 5:22 remaining.

Schmelzer scored 10 of Winthrop’s 22 points in the quarter.

“She rolled her ankle against Lisbon last Friday, so she hadn’t touched a basketball until (Wednesday),” Burnham said. “She was just getting used to how her ankle felt, and I think in the second half she wasn’t afraid to cut and move on it anymore. She found some open lanes that even I didn’t see.”

Winthrop led by as many as nine points later in the quarter, but Butterfield gave the Ramblers a bit of a scare by nailing two long 3-pointers to cut the margin to 56-54 with six seconds remaining. Schmelzer put it away though, by making two free throws with 4.9 seconds remaining.

“This was just a stepping stone,” Monmouth coach Rick Larrabee said. “Everybody is still adjusting to their new roles. Everybody is finding out who the leaders are and everybody is getting used to our style of play. We’re on the right track.”

While Schmelzer was getting on her feet in the first half, WilsonFalcone (10 points in the half) picked up the scoring slack by attacking the hoop and getting to the free-throw line. She converted back-to-back steals into layups to give the Ramblers a 20-18 lead after they had spent most of the half chasing the Mustangs.

Clement put Monmouth back in the lead with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

“We knew that we certainly didn’t play our best in the first half, and to just be down one point was encouraging to us,” Burnham said. “We had a lot of positive energy in the locker room and that translated into the first two or three minutes of the second half.”

Winthrop went on a 9-3 run to start the second half, sparked Schmelzer’s first hoop and a 3-pointer by Souza.

“This was a great learning game for both teams,” Larrabee said. “This was a playoff-type atmosphere, a playoff-type game right at the beginning of the season.”

Winthop’s Jillian Schmelzer passes the ball to a teammate from the ground past the defense of Monmouth’s Abby Flanagan during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Winthop’s Jillian schmelzer passes the ball to a teammate from the ground past the defense of Monmouth’s Abby Flanagan during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Aaliyah Wilson-Falcone keeps her eye on the basket during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Aaliyah WilsonFalcone keeps her eye on the basket during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Monmouth’s Julia Johnson shoots against Winthrop during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Monmouth’s Julia Johnson shoots against Winthrop during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Montmouth’s Kaeti Butterfield takes the ball down the court during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Montmouth’s Kaeti Butterfield takes the ball down the court during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Winthrop’s Katie Perkins takes the ball to the basket during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Winthrop’s Katie Perkins takes the ball to the basket during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Monmouth’s Libby Clement takes the bull down the court followed closely by Winthrop’s Kerrigan Anuszewski during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Monmouth’s Libby Clement takes the bull down the court followed closely by Winthrop’s Kerrigan Anuszewski during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Winthrops’s Jillian Schmelzer threads between Monmouth defense during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Winthrops’s Jillian Schmelzer threads between Monmouth defense during Thursday night’s basketball game in Winthrop. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)


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