WINTHROP — Basketball is a four-quarter game, but one quarter in particular played a starring role when Winthrop and Carrabec squared off in the quarterfinals of the Central Maine Class C/D tournament Thursday.

Following and even first quarter, Winthrop dominated the second and then held on in the second half to notch a 62-52 victory.

“I think in that second quarter we exerted our energy and effort a lot more than we did in the others, and we stayed true to our defensive philosophy and we had few breakdowns. And when we do that we’re a tough team to beat,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said. “The problem is we got to learn to do it for 32 minutes, rather than a little clip of eight minutes.”

Carrabec’s Luke Carey made a half-court buzzer-beater to tie the game 14-14 at the end of the first quarter. It looked like the eighth-seeded Cobras were ready to push the top-seeded Ramblers. Instead, Winthrop’s Ian Steele opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer that started an 8-0 Ramblers run.

“Gavin Perkins passed me the ball and nobody was up on me, so I shot it and if it went in, it went in, if it didn’t we were going to keep playing,” Steele said. “They kept giving me the shots I wanted, and I just kept taking them. I thank my teammates for giving me the ball.”

Steele scored 12 of his game-high 24 points in the period, during which the Ramblers outscored the Cobras 25-4 to take a 39-18 halftime lead.

Winthrop’s backcourt trap defense forced Carrabec into countless turnovers in the second quarter, which the Ramblers turned into easy baskets.

“One of the things I think this team excels at is their transition. So whenever we can get tips or deflections that leads to steals, and then steals lead to us running up and down the floor,” MacArthur said. “And we got some athletes on the floor that can get up and down the floor, and they can finish in transition or we can knock down shots in transition. I think our kids are more comfortable playing in that type of pace and that speed, so when teams turn it over we usually capitalize.”

The Ramblers’ defense was the difference-maker, according to Carrabec coach Erik Carey.

“That is the best defensive team we’ve seen, one to five,” Carey said. “When (6-foot-2 Noah Grube) can come out and guard the perimeter like he does, we didn’t have a response to that. It hit us. We needed halftime to make some adjustments, and we made some adjustments, but that second quarter killed us.”

A 3 by Carrabec’s Robert Lindblom in the second minute of the third quarter gave the Cobras five points in the period, surpassing their second-quarter total. They went on to outscore the Ramblers 17-7 in the third, thanks in part to six points from Luke Carey and five more Elijah Canales.

Outside shots, much like they did in the first quarter, helped the Cobras close in on the Ramblers in the fourth. Lindblom made a 3 early in the quarter to cut the deficit to six, then Canales later hit one to cut it to 53-49.

“Honestly, that was the proudest moment, is that when you’re down 21 at half a lot of teams are just going to fold it in and just ride it out. And great moment for us to not,” Erik Carey said. “You know, to dig in, chip away, not try and get a 21-point shot, just a little here, a little here, a little here. That was great. It was great for the kids.”

Winthrop answered with baskets by Brayden Stubbert and Steele to stretch the lead back to eight and pull away for good.

“I think we still had our wits about us. I mean, it was a little scary. They started hitting shots and we got kind of lazy, but I feel like that we still had them in control,” Steele said. “We kind of snapped it back in those last three minutes, kind of kept it together as a team.”

Carey finished with a team-high 14 points for Carrabec, and Canales, Lindblom and Daniel Handley each added 11.

Perkins scored 15 points for Winthrop, with seven of those coming from the foul line.

The Ramblers survived and advanced, according to MacArthur, and next will play a semifinal at home against the winner of No. 5 Spruce Mountain and No. 4 Hall-Dale next week.

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