The streak is over. And according to Winthrop High School boys basketball coach Todd MacArthur, the way it ended was no fluke or accident.

“They flat-out beat us,” MacArthur said of the Ramblers’ 66-65 loss to Dirigo last Friday. “They played better than us. Hats off to Dirigo, hats off to their coaches.”

The loss snapped Winthrop’s regular-season winning streak at 24 games, a run stretching back to January of 2016 — not that it struck much of a sentimental chord with MacArthur or his players.

“We don’t look at that stuff as a program,” he said. “I never go to the kids and say ‘Hey, we haven’t lost at home in however many games, let’s keep that streak going.’ That’s not what we’re about, we’re always about the team we’re playing.”

He has plenty of reason not to dwell on the past — Winthrop’s present is looking pretty good, too. Entering Thursday’s action, the Ramblers were sitting right where they’ve become accustomed, atop the Class C South standings with a 4-1 record.

“I love the way that they go to work every day,” MacArthur said. “That’s kind of our demeanor. It’s not about what our record is, it’s not about what we can be, it’s just about ‘Let’s get better.’ ”

Winthrop’s had to do it with a rebuilt core, though MacArthur said there has been some good coming from that. While Jacob Hickey’s and Garrett Tsouprake’s departures left the Ramblers without steady scorers, Winthrop’s efforts to fill their roles have resulted in a more balanced cast of contributors. Cam Wood and Nate LeBlanc have become the de facto anchors, but with Jared McLaughlin, Sam Figueroa, Lenny Hills and Jevin Smith all able to reach double figures each night, it can be harder for opponents to tell where the points are coming from.

“When we play team basketball, we incorporate inside-out basketball, we’re a tough team to beat,” said MacArthur, whose team has averaged 69.8 points per game. “We’re scoring more points this year than we did last year, and it’s because we are a balanced team and we have multiple threats, multiple weapons.”

Where MacArthur wants to see the jump is on the defensive side of the ball, where the Ramblers have struggled at times with the communication that’s so important for the team’s high-pressure scheme.

“That’s kind of our program forte,” he said. “We rely on five guys, so if we have one guy missing, it’s a huge risk. It’s high-risk, high-reward, and right now we’re looking a little bit more at the risk side than we are the reward side. But once we develop trust and chemistry on the defensive end, then we can shore up those holes.”

• • •

With Nokomis in need of a win to jump start its season, its top two players stepped up and delivered it.

Zach Hartsgrove and Josh Smestad were terrific for the Warriors on Tuesday night, scoring 30 and 28 points respectively in a 74-52 victory over Cony.

The players were at their best, however, in the biggest moments. The two combined for 19 of Nokomis’s 23 points in a third quarter that held off a Rams rally and turned a 33-21 lead into a 56-42 advantage, then combined to put up the Warriors’ first nine points of the fourth as Nokomis pulled away.

Hartsgrove and Smestad scored 26 straight points for Nokomis in that stretch, starting after a Jordan Roddy pull-up jumper cut the Rams’ deficit to 39-28 with five-and-a-half minutes to go in the third quarter, and ending with a pair of Hartsgrove free throws that made it 65-52 with 3:10 to go in the fourth.

“It’s very nice, especially when you have Cony’s pressure, to just have a couple of guys that you know are going to settle things down,” coach Ryan Martin said. “If the ball is in their hands, something good is going to happen.”

• • •

Needing a spark while trailing one of its biggest rivals, experience-laden Gardiner got one from the youngest player on the team.

The Tigers were trailing Cony 38-23 on Friday when freshman Gavin McArthur began to chip away at both the lead and the Rams’ momentum. First, he hit a corner 3-pointer that narrowed the gap to 12. Then he took a long pass on the break after a rebound and finished in transition, drawing the personal foul while Cony was also called for a technical for hanging on the rim. The result was three free throws, all of which were made, and three possessions later McArthur buried another corner three to shrink the deficit to 42-34.

They were McArthur’s only nine points of the game, but they woke up a vocal Gardiner student section and started a rally that the Tigers, who got to within a point in the fourth quarter, nearly pulled off.

“The one advantage we had with (Cole) Heaberlin out all preseason, we just put Gavin in that position to teach him what we do,” coach Jason Cassidy said. “He’s played a lot of basketball, he works hard, he’s got a man’s body, so he’s going to help us win basketball games. He changed the momentum there.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM


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