It wasn’t too long ago that Winthrop High School boys basketball coach Todd MacArthur played for Mike McGee at Lawrence. A point guard known for his defensive ability, MacArthur learned a lot under McGee.

“One of the biggest things was his passion for the game,” MacArthur said. “He loved trying to push kids to get the max out of them.”

Since coming to Winthrop two years ago, MacArthur has followed McGee’s example, and like his mentor, he built his team around defense. The Ramblers pressed man-to-man full-court most of every game and won many of their games by forcing turnovers.

“Defense is really important to him and the team,” point guard Taylor Morang said. “Defense leads to offense.”

Morang was one of four sophomores who started this season for the Ramblers who challenged nearly every opponent they faced in the Mountain Valley conference. They finished at 11-7 and were eliminated from the Western Maine Class C tournament in a prelim loss to Monmouth. for his efforts, MacArthur has been selected as the Kennebec Journal Boys Basketball coach of the Year. Gardiner’s Jason Cassidy was also considered.

After going 3-15 in his first season at Winthrop, MacArthur has built the Ramblers into a contender.

“I was extremely pleased with the effort and growth we showed as a team,” he said. “We’ve stressed we want to get back to the tradition of Winthrop basketball. I think this year was a big step in the right direction.”

MacArthur has immersed himself and his players in youth basketball at Winthrop and is aware of what’s going on at every level.

“This was a big year in third and fourth grade,” he said. “We were able to have two travel teams. We have to get those young kids interested in basketball.”

MacArthur, who teaches at the school, calls coaching a year-round job.

“I’m working right now on the summer and preparation for next year,” he said. “You’ve got to have an understanding wife.”

MacArthur focused much of his practice time on defense. He said the focus this summer will be on offense and skill development.

The Ramblers return nine players and have a strong eighth grade group coming in.

“We’re definitely going in the right direction,” Morang said.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

ghawkins@centralmaine.com