AUGUSTA — The Winthrop boys basketball team had a chance for the payback it desperately wanted. And the Ramblers weren’t about to let it get away. Top seed Winthrop rode a swarming, suffocating defense and 20 points and 10 rebounds from Cam Wood to a 61-41 victory over No. 3 and defending champion Hall-Dale in the C South final, sending the Ramblers to the state championship game for the second time in three years.

It was a rematch of last year’s C South final, a 51-37 Hall-Dale win, and make no mistake, that game was on the Ramblers’ minds as they got ready for this one.

“Oh, for sure,” said Wood, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. “Last year we came in here and lost, we were in the same position that they’re in. … I wanted to go out and get it, and that’s what we did. We went out and got it.”

Cam Hachey added 10 points for Winthrop (20-1), and Jared McLaughlin scored nine. Six players scored six or more points for the Ramblers, whose depth came through again.

“Hall-Dale really got the better of us last year, and they embarrassed us. We weren’t proud of our efforts last year, from myself to these guys on the floor,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said. “We were very fortunate to get the opportunity to play them again, and they took full advantage of that opportunity.”

Ashtyn Abbott and Alec Byron scored 13 points apiece for Hall-Dale (19-2).


“I didn’t think that we came out with the effort, the energy, the intensity, the attention to detail we needed to sustain a run with those guys,” Bulldogs coach Chris Ranslow said. “Credit to them. They came out hard, they played fast, they played well and they made shots.”

This one was all Winthrop. The Ramblers made sure of it, with everyone in green and white swarming Hall-Dale’s ballhandlers from the opening tip. Winthrop won the battle to seemingly every rebound and loose ball, and roared out to a 19-6 lead by the end of the first quarter.

The Ramblers never let the high-scoring Bulldogs get within 10 points after the first quarter, and stretched the lead to 34-18 by halftime.

“We definitely put in a lot of work for this,” senior forward Sam Figueroa said. “Everybody knows what the goal is from the beginning of the year, and we made it happen.”

Most impressive was how the Ramblers went about shutting down the Bulldogs and their top two players. Winthrop began the game with the 6-foot-8 Wood on Abbott, and also had the defense collapse whenever either player tried to get into the paint. Players like Wood, Figueroa and Ryan Baird made sure Byron and Abbott kept having to shoot through a forest of arms, and limited the two players to six and three points, respectively, by halftime.

“He’s an amazing player,” Wood said of Abbott. “I’m a lot slower than him, obviously I’m a little bigger. What fueled me was how many times they’ve beaten us. … Even though I’m slower, I managed to play some good defense.”


Byron acknowledged the difficulty of dealing with the Winthrop defense.

“I think they know us too well. They know our tendencies,” he said. “They had a great game plan. They executed it perfectly, and Ashtyn and I, we struggled to find a flow.”

It was a far cry from the teams’ regular season matchup, when Abbott scored 26 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a 57-46 win.

“Ashtyn has killed us so many times,” MacArthur said. “We decided to try something we’d never tried before, we put Cam on him. … We just thought his length would bother him.

“We just wanted to make those two always feel uncomfortable. That they were going to get hedged and helped coming from their left and their right.”

Ranslow, whose team also got six points from Patrick Rush, praised his team for its season.


“It was an incredible run, 17-1 regular season,” he said. “We found a way through Monmouth and then beat Waynflete, who was a tremendous opponent. Unfortunately, that seemed to be our Super Bowl.”

Drew Bonifant – 621-5638

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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