Winthrop’s Jevin Smith passes the ball past Mountain Valley’s Cam Godbois during Saturday’s game in Rumford. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

When it comes to bench strength, Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur believes you either us it or lose it.

“In order for your depth to wear teams out, you’ve got to play kids,” MacArthur said. “If you go to a number 11 and even if they only play for a minute, they’ve got fresh legs, so they’re 100 percent versus 75 percent.”

Winthrop’s depth was on full display in Saturday’s 68-52 win over previously unbeaten Mountain Valley.

The Ramblers’ reserves accounted for 30 points, led by junior guard Cam Hachey, who scored 16 points, sinking four 3-pointers in the process.

“It’s nice to have a junior step up, that’s getting experience and shooting the ball well in a big game,” MacArthur said. “It stretches the floor for our interior game. It’s only going to make us more dangerous when we can shoot the ball from the perimeter.”

Junior forward Jevin Smith was the inside complement to Hachey’s outside antics, collecting 12 points and nine rebounds.

“Jevin played really well. He rebounded well,” MacArthur said.

The Ramblers also got strong performances from reserves Jackson Ladd, Gavin Perkins and Nate LeBlanc, as wells as Bradley Bourne. Bourne, a junior guard, was the sixth player off of the bench when he entered the game late in the second quarter and immediately knocked down an outside shot.

“It’s Bradley but I call him Billy. I love Billy Bourne,” MacArthur said. “He went in there and knocked down a shot. He can shoot the ball.”

Confident Hornets off to flying start

It’s been a while since Leavitt had the opportunity to start a season 8-0.

Hornets coach Mike Hathaway believes the last time his team started 7-0 was 2011 when, led by Jordan Hersom, Tim Dow, Tyler Walton and Lucas Witham, they started 7-0 en route to the most wins in the program’s history (14).

But that team lost to Camden Hills in the eighth game of the season. So what the Hornets did last Monday by beating Maranacook, 70-63, to improve to 8-0 may be unprecedented.

And it may be tough to slow the Hornets’ roll. Hathaway said his team’s success is building confidence. And the budding confidence is producing more wins.

“Our guys have a lot more resolve than they’ve had the last couple of years. They know that we can play, so they’re confident,” Hathaway said. “So when a team makes a run, they tighten up a little bit and usually someone makes a big shot and we’re right back at it.”

Leavitt is fighting through adversity better than it has in recent years thanks to a collective effort that has seen several players take turns giving the team the spark that turns things around in a game.

“When a team starts to make a run, we have multiple guys who can make a couple of shots to stop their run and change the momentum to our side,” said sophomore guard Wyatt Hathaway, who ranks among the leaders in scoring, assists, steals and 3-pointers in Class A South this year. “Every game that we’ve played, there’s a point where the other team makes a big run and then one of our players always step up.”

“Whenever they get a run, we always say we have to make a run right back so we can get the tempo back and momentum,” said senior guard Josh Banks, who sparked a game-changing run against Maranacook with 10 of his 15 points in the second quarter.

Hathaway said his players have done such a good job taking the initiative to swing momentum that he has frequently refrained from calling time out earlier in games because he believes the Hornets will shoot themselves out of it. The time outs that he keeps in his pocket come in handy later in tight games.

“We’re putting the ball in the hoop,” Hathaway said. “We struggled with that here for a long time. We’ve got four guys who are up around double digits (scoring) and we move the ball pretty well. I think a lot of it is just our team chemistry. We’ve got a lot of guys that enjoy being in the gym and playing together. They want to win. They’re putting winning above everything else.”

Toss-ups ahead for Phoenix

When Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey took a good look at the Phoenix’s opponents in the Mountain Valley Conference before the season began, he figured his team had the potential to make a strong start.

“I knew we would have a good record at this point,” Bessey said.

The Phoenix were supposed to play Mountain Valley last week, but the snow and ice forced a postponement.

“The Mountain Valley game, it is going to be a grind and I think they feel the same way,” Bessey said. “It is going to be a great game, but it is going to be a toss-up.

“The Hall-Dale game, the Mountain Valley game, the Winthrop game, and for us going away to Boothbay, those are five games that are toss-ups,” Bessey added. “We lost by one to Hall-Dale. We got one loss in a game against a really good team.

“So, out of those five games, you can kind of predict where you’re going to be, but only playing Hall-Dale once, I think we should be 10-0,” Bessey added. “I thought we gave that game away. We are 9-1, but that loss to Hall-Dale, which was a toss-up game to begin with, so we are right where we should be.”

But the Phoenix did pick up a couple of solid victories last week before they square off against the pick of the MVC litter in the coming weeks.

The Phoenix toughed it out against Dirigo at Defoe Gymnasium in Dixfield the past week, collecting 57-40 victory against the perimeter-shooting Dirigo Cougars.

The young Oak Hill Raiders couldn’t hold-up against the  swift Spruce defense, which helped produce a 65-35 win.

Road warriors

Oxford Hills’ win Saturday at Greely wasn’t only big for the Vikings for Heal point purposes, but also for the Vikings’ own psyche.

“I’ll tell you right now, it’s really, really something else for us because, you know, to beat teams on the road that are this good — like we didn’t play very well down at Deering, and uninspired, and we played pretty well at home a couple times, but we haven’t had a game like this on the road,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “And Greely’s a very, very good team, and we hung in there, they got a little lead on us, but we came back and showed some resilience.”

Th Rangers are defending Class A state champs, and are leading Class A South. The Vikings, meanwhile, are in the thick of things in Class AA North, but already had four losses to their name entering the Greely game.

Speaking of Greely, Graffam said it’s the first time Oxford Hills has ever beaten the Rangers — before quickly pointing out it was only the second meeting.

“They beat us bad at our place last year, so we wanted to come here and send a message, and tell teams all through the state that we can play with anyone,” senior Colton Carson said. “That was good for us.”

It was also a meaningful win for Graffam.

“More importantly, the first time Coach Graffam has ever beaten Greely. He lost twice when I was at Scarborough. So it was fun to beat them finally,” Graffam said with a grin.


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