WINTHROP — The answer to Madison’s win against Win-throp on Friday night could quite possibly be found in the starting lineups. The Bulldogs started four seniors while the Ramblers opened with four sophomores.
Experience won out as Madison pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 59-52 victory that likely saved it a prelim game in the Western Maine Class C tournament.
“It looks like this will keep us out of a prelim, fortunately,” Madison coach Mike Packard said.
“That was pretty much what this game was for.”
Madison is 10-7 with one regular-season game left and in fifth place in the Western C standings.
The top five teams earn a trip directly to the tournament at the Augusta Civic Center while the bottom six play off for the final three spots. Winthrop, 9-7, will be one of the those teams.
The Ramblers led by as many as eight points (39-31) in the second half, but the Bulldogs kept chipping away at the lead.
Senior Austin Kane (18 points) hit a 3-pointer at the third period buzzer to make it 41-38 and another at the beginning of the fourth quarter to draw the Bulldogs to within two, 43-41.
Dylan Price, another senior, scored nine of his 17 points in the quarter as the Bulldogs turned up their defensive pressure. Price converted a steal into a layup to give Madison a 48-46 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The Ramblers committed six turnovers in the opening four minutes of the fourth quarter and never quite recovered.
“We’ve just got to get over the hump,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said. “We’ve got to find a way to do it.”
Winthrop sophomore Taylor Morang (13 points) hit a key 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to give the Ramblers a 46-45 lead, but the Bulldogs also forced the sophomore into some turnovers.
“He’s their point guard and we know pretty much everything they do runs through him,” Kane said.
The Bulldogs got a nice performance from senior center Steven Lawrence who grabbed 10 rebounds and scored seven of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a back-breaker off an assist fromPrice after the Ramblers had drawn to within four (56-52) late in the game.
Senior Cris Banda played a strong game for Winthrop, scoring 17 points, but the Ramblers were hurt by the absence of 6-foot-3 freshman Anthony Owens who was ill. He’s the tallest player on the team and was needed early when the Ramblers got into foul trouble.
Foul trouble, in fact, hurt the Ramblers as Madison got into the double bonus in the fourth quarter and took full advantage, making 7 of 9 from the line. Many of their fouls were for hand-checks.
“Some nights we might get away with it, some nights we don’t,” MacArthur said.
“They were calling them closely tonight and we didn’t adjust.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638