Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur is trying to develop depth on his team, no easy task when he’s dealing with a couple of injuries. Junior point guard Taylor Morang missed a couple of games to begin the season with a deep thigh bruise and has yet to feel 100 percent healthy while sophomore center Anthony Owens is out with a bad ankle sprain.

Morang has played the last couple of games albeit fewer minutes than he’s accustomed to. In Wednesday’s win against Telstar he scored seven points and had seven steals.

“He’s got a little rust on him,” MacArthur said. “He’s a tough kid, he’s not going to let me know.”

Junior Matt Sekerak has filled in for Morang at point guard which MacArthur believes will help the Ramblers in the long run, Owens sprained his ankle early in the second half of last week’s win against Monmouth, and MacArthur hopes he’ll be back by tonight’s game against Wiscasset. If not, he’ll have the Christmas break to get ready for the team’s next game Jan. 2.

“It’s made us a lot less deep and hurts our size defensively,” MacArthur said.

Despite the injuries the Ramblers have played well. They’re 3-2 with a 10-point loss to Dirigo and a six-point loss to Spruce Mountain, both on the road and neither with the team at full strength.

“I’m happy, we’ve just got to continue to get better,” MacArthur said.

The Ramblers return four starters in Morang, Sekerak, Dakota Carter and Ben Allen, all solid multi-sport athletes. They’ve added Owens into the lineup and bring freshman Jacob Hickey off the bench when everyone is healthy. Hickey is a good outside shooter with range who leads the team in scoring. Teams are already beginning to extend their defenses to stop him.

“It’s opened up some lanes,” MacArthur said. “It’s a learning process for him. He’s come a long ways defensively in a month.”

• • •

Monmouth is awaiting the return of senior shooting guard Isiah Calder who missed preseason and the first four games with a torn meniscus. The transfer from Leavitt is expected to play the wing and boost the offense.

“He can take it the basket off the wing and shoot the 3,” Monmouth coach Lucas Turner said.

Freshman Hunter Richardson has started in Calder’s absence and will probably remain in the starting lineup.

“He’s shooting well and playing great defense,” said Turner, who is putting Richardson on the opposition’s top scorer. “At times you forget he’s a freshman. Every once in awhile you remember.”

Senior center Marcques Houston is averaging 17 points a game but could use a little scoring help. Senior Kasey Smith, who is 6-feet, 4-inches tall, could provide that but he’s dealing with a broken nose he sustained in preseason.

“His broken nose is definitely affecting his play,” Turner said. “He doesn’t like his face guard. It alters his shot.”

Turner expects the face guard to come off early next month. The Mustangs resume their regular season schedule against Mt. Abram on Jan. 3. In the meantime they’ll face Waynflete and Traip in the Gray/New Gloucester Christmas tournament.

• • •

Hall-Dale coach Chris Ranslow was happy to be 3-1 entering Thursday night’s game at Mountain Valley considering the illnesses and absences he dealt with this season.

“Four or even all five starters have missed up to four practices in a row for a host of reasons,” Ranslow said. “When that happens you don’t get that continuity.”

Hall-Dale is coming off a 47-38 win against Madison on Wednesday night just a week after a 20-point loss to Wiscasset. Earlier this season, Madison beat Wiscaset.

“We’ve got a group that at times is young and inexperienced,” Ranslow said. “The way we played against Wiscasset was below what we played (Wednesday) night. I think there’s going to be a lot of that.”

The Bulldogs are beginning to get more consistent play from point guard Nat Crocker, who played all but 30 seconds against Madison, and forward Brian Allen who scored 17 points.

“The game seems to be slowing down a little bit for Brian,” Ranslow said. “He’s starting to absorb some of the feedback he’s getting.”

Sophomore Ryan Sinclair has also been a pleasant surprise.

“Ryan had a really good summer for us,” Ranslow said. “He played basketball and he got better.”

The Bulldogs have a key game at home Saturday against Oak Hill before they play in the Capital Area Hoop Classic over the break.

• • •

The 19th annual Capital Area Hoop Classic will be held Dec. 27-28 at the Augusta Civic center. It features six central Maine boys teams and seven girls teams.

The girls play Dec. 27 and the field includes Cony, Lewiston, Oxford Hills, Madison, St. Dominic, Hampden and Hall-Dale. Each team is guaranteed at least two games and the day concludes with a championship. Two of the games — Lewiston/Oxford Hills and Cony/Hampden will count as regular season games.

The boys field includes at least one team from each of the state’s four classes in Cony, Waterville, Hall-Dale, Boothbay, Dirigo and Forest Hills. They play Dec. 28 under the same format as the girls tournament.

Kennebec Savings Bank is the tournament’s major sponsor and G&E Roofing/China-Dine-ah is offering a $500 scholarship to a boy and girl in the tournament. Colgan Air is also donating four round-trip tickets to Boston with two to be drawn at each championship game.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638[email protected]Twitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ

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