WINTHROP — Winthrop’s aggressive defense shut down Oak Hill for a pair of long stretches as the Ramblers’ defended their home court with a 39-21 girls basketball victory Tuesday.

From the 5:40 mark of the first quarter to the 1:07 mark of the second, Winthrop limited Oak Hill to one point. That included a 9-minute, 42-second scoreless stretch for the Raiders.

The Ramblers (2-1) also held the Raiders (0-3) to one point in the third quarter.

“So I think we really did our full-court press really well,” Winthrop senior Maddie Perkins said. “We pulled the string, meaning when someone went we followed behind and everybody was working together. We were getting steals or making them throw the ball out of bounds, and I think that worked well for us.”

Winthrop’s defense, led by Perkins’ six first-half steals, stifled Oak Hill, and often prevented the ball from reaching the paint. 

“I liked that we are just getting better defensively,” first-year Winthrop coach John Baehr said. “Offensively Oak Hill did a good job of switching their offenses, and we did a good job recognizing and adjusting. To have a freshman point guard (Ella Rice) notice it and adjust to it, that’s probably the biggest thing from this one.”

Freshman guard Morgan Fichthorn scored Winthrop’s first points of the game on a long jumper with 5:50 left in the first quarter. She then hit a 3-pointer to give the Ramblers the lead. Fichthorn, who finished with a game-high 20 points, later hit a free throw to lead Winthrop with six first-quarter points. 

“She can knock them down and she can slash, also,” Baehr said. “She is our sixth man, comes off the bench and provides that spark, which we need. She’s a freshman, she had a great game tonight and she is getting more comfortable in the offensive and defensive systems.”

In the second quarter, Perkins had four steals, two rebounds and four points. One of her baskets was off a steal and a breakaway to the other hoop for a layup with just a few seconds left on the clock. 

Fichthorn scored six more points in the second quarter.

Oak Hill’s defense has some strong moments, too, blocking six first-half shots, including three by Ariana Thibeault in the second quarter.

“I think we did better this time on defense than we have,” Oak Hill coach Dale Gamage said. “Our girls are still learning how to play with each other. They’ve come along, so I think over the season we will get better at it.”

Thibeault also hit a layup at the first-half buzzer to cut Winthrop’s lead to 22-9 at halftime.

Q3 STIFLE

The Ramblers outscored the Raiders again in the third and outscored them 10-1 in the third to take a 32-10 lead into the fourth.

Lydia Rice scored six points, grabbed three rebounds and notched two steals in the third, including a steal in the final minute after which she took the ball the length of the court and was fouled at the hoop, then made both free throws.

“Maddie and Lydia are the leaders,” Baehr said. “Maddie with her instincts, athleticism, knowing where the ball is, it’s unbelievable. I’ve loved coaching those two, I’ve loved coaching all 10, but to have that senior leadership to help the younger players grow in the future is great.”

Paige Gonya scored the Raiders’ lone point in the third quarter, a free throw line with 3:43 left. 

Oak Hill’s offense got going in the fourth, opening the quarter on a 9-0 run — six of those points by senior Emily Dillman — to pull within 32-19 with 4:31 left to play in the game.

Winthrop, though, never let its lead drop to single digits. Fichthorn made 4 of 6 free throws after Oak Hill’s run to help stave off the comeback. 

“I think we did really well defensively,” Fichthorn said. “I think our team sped them up, and I think we did a good job with that. We did great. Getting in the passing lanes, blocking the passes, and also going backside and stopping backside reversals.”

Lydia Rice finishes with seven points and Perkins had six.

Dillman scored a team-high eight points for Oak Hill.

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