MONMOUTH — The Monmouth girls basketball team’s experience in close games paid off Friday against rival Winthrop.

The Mustangs lost the lead for the first time late in the third quarter, but bounced back early in the fourth and held off rival Winthrop to win 39-34.

“We’ve had a lot of close games so far this season, so I think that we finally have some experience in that situation,” Monmouth coach Molly Menice said. “So that, I think, really helped us pull this off at the end.”

The Mustangs (11-4) are now 5-0 this season in games decided by five points or less. Senior Holly Hunt said that they knew what needed to be done when Friday’s game reached the fourth quarter.

“We just never give up. That’s our mindset. And we knew that, like, we knew that we could pull it together and just calm down,” Hunt said. “We tend to get a little frantic because we just want to push, push, push. And we definitely toned it back, felt confident in ourselves, passed to each other, worked with each other, relaxed and let each other play, and just have fun and play basketball.”

The Ramblers (11-6) trailed for almost the entire the first three quarters before taking their first lead with about 1:10 remaining in the third on a 3-pointer by Morgan Fichthorn. Madeline Wagner added a pair of free throws with 41 seconds left in the period to put Winthrop up 23-19.


Hunt got two of those points back with a basket for Monmouth, but the Ramblers took a 23-21 lead into the final quarter.

The Mustangs played two freshmen, Kaitlyn Frost and Maeve Burgess, for much of the fourth, and both came through and helped Monmouth regain the lead early in the period.

Burgess scored two quick baskets to put Monmouth ahead 25-23.

She was injured near the end of the first half and missed part of the third quarter. When she returned to the game, she did so with an increased sense of purpose.

“She got upset at some things not going her way, and then she just made that motivation,” Menice said. “That was the best game she’s ever played.”

“She was on a mission to prove that she could still play, no matter what. And she did it,” Hunt added. “She made some really nice post moves. She was in there, she was getting putbacks. It was really good.”


Moments after a free throw by Winthrop’s Ella Rice, Frost scored on a putback to make Monmouth’s lead 27-24.

Hunt, the senior, took it from there. She hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to 30-24 with about five and a half minutes to play. She added another basket and made 3 of 4 free throws to help finish off the victory.

“She did a really good job,” Menice said. “The first half did not go her way, but she did a really good job adjusting and just playing basketball, not overthinking.”

Hunt scored eight points in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 15. Frost contributed 10 points, Burgess had five and Grace Levesque and Kerstin Paradis chipped in four apiece.

Wagner was Winthrop’s top scorer with 11 points. Rice scored eight and Fichthorn and Bella Littler had five each.

Both teams struggled to score points throughout the game, especially in the first three quarters.


“Well, we always battle; it’s a rock fight whenever we play Monmouth. It’s fun, it’s a rival,” Winthrop coach John Baehr said. “But we just rushed shots tonight. We didn’t have great spacing, they sagged a little bit defensively, and they did a good job defensively, and we just didn’t make shots.”

Frost opened the scoring with two 3-pointers, giving Monmouth a 6-0 lead 2 minutes, 25 seconds into the game. What appeared to be early momentum for the Mustangs became the defining shots of the first half. Winthrop spent the next two quarters trying to catch up, while Monmouth worked to protect its lead.

The Mustangs didn’t score again in the first quarter. The Ramblers scraped together five points, three free throws by Rice and a layup by Wagner, to cut Monmouth’s lead to 6-5.

The offensive struggles continued in the second period. An early putback by Hunt gave the Mustangs a three-point edge. Winthrop cut the deficit to two points a few times, but Monmouth always answered to go up four again. Paradis scored on a putback late in the second to send the Mustangs into the break with a 13-9 advantage.

Winthrop turned the tide with consecutive important treys in the third quarter. Wagner’s cut Monmouth’s lead to 19-18, and Morgan Fichthorn’s gave the Ramblers their first lead of the game. Those 3s were part of a 10-0 run that gave Winthrop a 23-19 lead heading into the fourth.

The Ramblers won the teams’ first meeting 49-39 on Jan. 2. The Mustangs then went on a seven-game winning streak that ended Tuesday with a 50-40 loss to unbeaten Kents Hill. They wrap up the regular season with a home game against North Yarmouth Academy (15-1) on Monday and road games at Hall-Dale (12-3) on Wednesday and at Mountain Valley (7-8) on Thursday.

Winthrop concludes its season Monday at home against Kents Hill (16-0). The Huskies beat the Ramblers 61-55 on Jan. 7 — Kents Hill’s closest game of the season.

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