It’s been a creed of Todd MacArthur’s since he took over as the Winthrop boys basketball coach. Building a winning team is a grind and a process. It takes time. It’s a journey, or as he calls it, a “story.”

The Ramblers had a championship story last year. Who knows if they will this year. Monday night, however, marked a positive chapter.

Winthrop improved to 3-0 by beating fellow unbeaten and Class C South contender Boothbay, 53-43, doing so with a nervy 11-for-13 effort from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

“It was one of those deals, we both entered the fourth quarter right at the bonus, and I think we took advantage of that situation much more than they did,” MacArthur said. “That was a message to the boys before and after, this was an opportunity to help our growth and help the process and ensure some confidence in what we’re trying to do.”

The win, which saw the Ramblers deny a Seahawks rally after taking a 38-35 lead into the fourth quarter, was the kind of gutsy victory that indicates Winthrop can be every bit the Class C South contender it was last year, when it rolled all the way to the Class C championship. Many key pieces are gone from that team, but as MacArthur pointed out, many are still around.

“Everyone always says that we lost a lot, and we absolutely did. But we have five guys that are back (with) valuable experience and experience in playoff and state championship games,” MacArthur said. “They know how to get it done. There are not many teams that can say they have five guys back that played in a state game.”

Two of those players, Ryan Baird and Gavin Perkins, helped lead the team down the stretch, with Baird (18 points) attacking a Boothbay defense in foul trouble and Perkins (eight points) coming through at the stripe as the Seahawks tried to foul and come back late.

It equaled a statement win for a team trying to prove itself all over again, but MacArthur wasn’t about to call the mission accomplished.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” he said, “but it’s still just one game, and we still have a long way to go. The team that we were last night and the team that we’re going to become are hopefully two drastically different teams.”

 

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Maranacook players were disappointed after a poor shooting night led to a 75-68 loss to Lake Region last Tuesday. Coach Travis Magnusson tried to get his team to see the positives.

“They were kind of bummed out. I said ‘Jeez guys, you just scored (68) points and you shot 13 percent from the 3-point line and you missed over 10 layups,’ ” he said. ” ‘Imagine what you’re going to play like when you just do what you’re normally going to do.’ ”

Three days later, the Black Bears got a chance to see it for themselves. Maranacook erupted in its home gym, routing Lincoln Academy 108-54. According to the Maine Principals Association’s website, no other team has cracked triple figures this season.

It was an excellent night offensively for the Black Bears. Magnusson, however, said it wasn’t an example of the team playing beyond its ability or any one player going off. Cash McClure led with 23 points, while Casey Cormier scored 22 and Tim Worster and Joey Dupont had 16 apiece.

“We really shot it extremely well last game. Everybody was hitting open shots, we were getting to where we wanted to get to,” Magnusson said. “I don’t think we were on fire or anything, I think we played more to how we are. We’re not going to score 100 points every night, but we shot the ball more like how we’re normally going to shoot the ball.”

The Black Bears shot 54 percent from inside the arc and 45 percent from beyond, but generated points as much with their defense as with their shooting. Lincoln Academy was up 23-21 early in the second quarter, but Maranacook began generating turnovers and exploded first for 33 points in the second quarter, then 38 in the third.

“For a lot of it, it was just a regular ball game,” Magnusson said. “Our defense picked up, which is key. That’s really what we’re talking about more right now. To be the team we want to be, we definitely have to get a lot better defensively.”

 

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Perhaps no team has shown more clearly the difference a year can make than Mount View.

A year ago, the Mustangs went 1-17. Now they’re 3-1, and looking like an emerging contender in the Class B North field.

The difference? According to coach Jeremy Von Oesen, it starts with having all five starters back in Sean Raven, Draedyn Furrow, Garrett Smith, Declan Knowlton and Joe Grassi. That’s the continuity. Now add a year’s worth of added poise and maturity, and those games the Mustangs couldn’t quite pull out last year are beginning to go their way.

“We were close in a lot of games for a while. We always had that one bad quarter,” Von Oesen said. “We had some leads in some games late that we couldn’t quite close out. … We’re just a lot more mature and patient with our offensive ability.”

The Mustangs also added a nightly double-double candidate in Elijah Allen, and their defense has transformed. Mount View is allowing 55.25 points per game, and held Washington to 10 baskets in a 58-36 win.

“We’re really doing a good job in the halfcourt. Last year, we had to play a lot of different zone traps and try to create things, because we weren’t quite as good offensively. We had to really get after it,” Von Oesen said. “While I still think we can do that at times this year, our solid team defense and getting one-and-dones a lot because we’re pretty good on the boards has been really key to the start.”


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