WINTHROP — As they are at many schools, the numbers were down in recent years for the Winthrop High School girls basketball team. Coach Ray Convery decided to take the onus for that on himself.

Convery recently stepped down as coach after three seasons. He had previously coached Winthrop for 23 seasons, winning a state championship in 1990. The Ramblers went 15-6 in Convery’s first season back, then 14-22 over the last two seasons. Convery said his decision to step away had nothing to do with the record.

“The thing is, I’m terribly, terribly disappointed in my ability to get more kids playing,” Convery said. “I’ve been back three years. The numbers have gone down — I feel significantly — every year. So obviously, I don’t feel like I’ve done a very good job.

“This year, we had 12 girls in the high school playing — no JVs. We had 11 girls in the middle school. We only had three sixth-graders play basketball this year.”

Winthrop athletic director Mike Jack said that the school enrollment has dropped to 231 students ­— from 319 just four years ago — and that Convery was not at fault for the low turnout.

“Ray is the epitome of a great coach, truly,” Jack said. “I can’t say enough positive things about him. He’s a great role model for the kids. What he brought to Winthrop will never be forgotten.”

Jack said the school wants to have a new coach in place as soon as possible to run the summer program.

“Obviously, replacing a legend, in my opinion, is very difficult,” Jack said. “The girls respected Ray tremendously, and it’s going to be hard to fill his shoes.”

Convery made it clear he still loves coaching, and very much enjoyed coaching at Winthrop. But he couldn’t get past the low numbers, and ultimately concluded he was the reason.

“The buck stops here,” Convery said. “I had some free clinics. I do the summer camps. Right now, apparently, basketball is not what they want to do. I can’t seem to find the right way to get more kids playing, so maybe somebody else can come in and do that.”

Convery said he greatly missed coaching during his time away from the game, and said he would be open to coaching somewhere else, even as soon as next season.

“Even at 62 years old, I still feel like I’ve got a lot to offer for basketball,” he said. “I’m just going to keep my options open. What’s very hard for me (is) I was very happy where I was. It just doesn’t seem to be the right fit right now. It wasn’t working out.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

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