Winthrop’s Maddie Perkins keeps a grip on the ball while being crowded by Oak Hill’s Emily Dilman during Tuesday’s game in Winthrop. Perkins made six of the Ramblers’ 14 steals in the 39-21 win. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

The Winthrop girls basketball team collected 14 steals in its 39-21 victory over Oak Hill on Tuesday.

Senior guard Maddie Perkins, who made six of those steals, all in the first half, was proud of the number of turnovers the Ramblers forced Tuesday.

“It was our defense; I love our defense, defense is my favorite part of basketball,” Perkins said. “This team has such a defensive mindset and when it all comes together like it did tonight it’s relieving, and fun at the same time to see them get frustrated. Not fun, you know, but It’s nice to see it’s working with all the time we’ve put in.”

Lydia Rice added five steals for the Ramblers (2-1) on Tuesday. Winthrop held Oak Hill scoreless for a long stretch that spanned the first and second quarters and limited the Raiders to one point in the third period.

“It definitely fired us up,” Perkins said. “I think when our defense is out there and it’s working and the offense isn’t getting any points, it shows that it’s working. It fires us up so we can continue our defense and keep making them mess up and turn the ball over.”

The Ramblers are coming together, merging senior guards Rice and Perkins with freshmen guards Ella Rice and Morgan Fichthorn. Fichthorn scored 20 points off the bench against Oak Hill and contributed on the defensive end of the court. 

“She definitely is a great sixth man,” Perkins said. “We can put her in literally at any time and she brings the fire for us. She has a great shot, but she is also great at defense and she keeps her head in the game really well, so I think that helps us.”

 AUTUMN HOT IN DECEMBER

Mountain Valley senior Autumn Freeman caught fire and put up 40 points in last Thursday’s win over Boothbay.

Falcons coach said he looked at the official scorebook again and realized Freeman finished with 40 points, not 38 as originally reported.

“I don’t know if 40 is a school record, I need to look into it, it looks like it was 40,” Milledge said. “I think she’s slid under the radar for a long time. We had some great athletes come before her, (like) Rylee Sevigny, but I think in three sports she really is an absolute superstar. It’s been hidden for a few years because she’s so good at doing what we need.

“She’s going to be a four-year starter and she’s been among the leaders in rebounds, assists and scoring. So now you’re seeing her needing to score for us more. It’s showing up for us. It’s absolutely astounding and unlike anything I’ve seen.”

Freeman drained five 3-pointers and scored 21 points in the first quarter against Boothbay. 

The Falcons (1-1) lost their next game to Carrabec, but Milledge is optimistic about the state of the team going forward. 

“We have a senior point guard, Alana Young, who is an absolute stud defensively and does everything for us,” Milledge said. “I think she’s super underrated. Emily Richard, a senior forward, does good things … we (also) have contributions from a lot of underclassmen. We’ve got a blend, we play really hard defense and if we keep it going we could do well.”

ST. DOM’S STARTS STRONG

The St. Dom’s Saints boys basketball team started its season with three wins in a row, a first for head coach Josh LaPrell, now in his third season. 

A big reason for the Saints’ hot start is the amount of basketball the Saints played before the season even started.

“We had a really good summer,” LaPrell said. “We hosted our summer league and we played, I think, 12 games in that. We practiced three or four times a week, went to Vermont for a team camp at Castleton University and went 3-1 there, lost in the playoffs, and we played a lot of games this summer. A lot of that has carried over into the season. We did a fall team for the first time. Guys are just playing together more and working harder. It’s starting to show in the regular season now.”

Senior captains Gaber Carey, Michael Stowe and Noah Cyr have been leaders for the Saints (3-1), who defeated North Yarmouth Academy, Sacopee Valley and Richmond before losing to Old Orchard Beach on Tuesday. 

“We have three senior captains that I’ve coached since they were sophomores, and they have been doing a nice job,” LaPrell said. “Gabe Carey is our leader on and off the floor, our hardest worker and has done a nice job of being a leader the last two years. We have two freshmen — Jonathan Tangilamesu, he is such a force in the middle, he is averaging 15 points and 13 rebounds and is really playing well, and Taylor Varney has been outstanding. He’s a ball handler, a great shooter, but is becoming a great defender for us. He’s got some length that we don’t have in the guards. It’s nice to have him. Noah Cyr is stepping up, Michael Stowe is off to a good start. We are getting the contributions from everyone.” 

PELLETIER PUTTING UP POINTS

Oxford Hills forward Teigan Pelletier has proved he can score on anyone four games into the season. 

Pelletier scored 22 on Edward Little in a one-point loss, 66-65, 18 against both Lewiston and Deering, and 25 against Windham to help the Vikings to a 3-1 start. 

The sophomore, though, credits his teammates. 

“It really helps to have a 6-10 kid (Colby Dillingham) in the paint with everyone on him so I’ll have a couple wide open 3s,” Pelletier said. “We have a very deep team where you can’t focus on one person. Let’s say they focus on me, then anyone else can have a great game.”

Dillingham has been a force in the paint for the Vikings, while guards Cole Pulkkinen and Eli Soehren have taken pressure off of Pelletier on offense.

Pulkkinen has been an unselfish point guard, according to Pelletier. 

“He’s very shifty, he has the best work ethic out of any person I know,” Pelletier said. “He’s been in the gym everyday. It’s great having him, he’s a very good point guard. He looks for everyone else and isn’t selfish.”

Oxford Hills’ offensive philosophy is to run, but the Vikings can also slow the pace of the game.

“It’s been running, out-running every team,” Pelletier said. “From the Edward Little game, you just have to run and run and have a really good third quarter. We came out really slow in the third in the EL and Lewiston games. We had decent second and fourth quarters. Deering and Lewiston tried to speed up the game and so we tried to run the game at our pace. If Lewiston is speeding the game up we are trying to do the opposite and slow the game down.”

YOUNG PHOENIX MAKING WAVES

The Spruce Mountain girls basketball team is filled with sophomores. 

The Phoenix start four second-year players and three come more off the bench for the Phoenix, who have started the season 3-0 with wins over Oak Hill, Winthrop (in overtime) and Monmouth.

“The game last night, different players stepped up and hit some big-time shots,” Spruce Mountain coach Zach Keene said, referring to Monday’s 44-27 win over Monmouth. “We have seven, eight, nine players doing some things on different nights. We’ve had COVID hit us, like some other teams, but it’s been different players stepping up.”

As freshman last winter, the sophomores got a lot of experience in the COVID-altered season and now are learning the full scope of Maine high school basketball.

“They play really hard all the time and that makes up for the lack of experience,” Keene said.

“Last year was a big year, too. They got a lot of time as freshmen. I am still not sure they understood the level of high school basketball yet. To have them respond the way they have, to win those games, shows the growth.”

Senior Summer Chretien and the Phoenix’s juniors also have contributed to wins. Keene was particularly excited about the overtime victory over Winthrop.

I think the most impressive thing was that they’re a really good team, and (Winthrop coach) John (Baehr) knows what he’s doing,” Keene said. “To play the style they play, the physicality, they don’t stop coming at you. We were down 10 or 11 at halftime, and I was curious how we’d respond. To come out and beat a team and do it the way we did, we were excited. It was one of the toughest wins. It was a really big win for us. I was proud of them.”

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