WINTHROP — The Winthrop boys basketball team held Spruce Mountain to one point in the final 5:52 to pull away with its second win of the season over the Phoenix, 53-32, on Monday night.

Cam Wood led the Ramblers (13-4) with 18 points and 14 rebounds, while Nate LeBlanc added 10 points.

Andrew Shaw had nine points to lead the Phoenix (12-5), who lost to the Ramblers 43-41 on Jan. 26 in Jay.

Spruce Mountain scored just 10 points in the first half on 3-for-21 shooting. Yet the Phoenix, who trailed by as much as 15 in the third quarter, rallied to pull within 36-31 on a pair of Mason Shink 3-pointers and a Brett Frey drive with 5:52 left.

They didn’t score again until a Jordan Daigle free throw in the final seconds. A 3-pointer by Baird shifted the momentum back in Winthrop’s favor, ultimately translating into a 17-1 game-ending run.

“That kind of stopped that run,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said of Baird’s 3-pointer. “They were trying to play a little helter-skelter and scrambling to create pressure, and I though that brought them out and opened some holes for Cam and Sam (Figueroa) to finish down low.”


LeBlanc also thrived in the paint down the stretch.

Winthrop’s size, particularly the 6-foot-8 Wood, gave Spruce all sorts of problems in the first matchup, and the Ramblers tested the paint early again Monday to build a 9-3 lead after one quarter.

Frey’s 3-pointer was the Phoenix’s only field goal in a 1-for-10 first quarter. Things didn’t get much better in the second quarter (2-for-11), as the Ramblers built a 21-10 lead.

“It’s a shot-making sport and you’ve got to have a certain level of mental toughness in a big game to hit open shots, and thus far this season, when the games have been the biggest, we’ve been the coldest,” Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey said. “Sorry, but they’re the same shots we’ve been making every game. Winthrop plays pretty good defense, but when we’re missing wide-open 3s and only have 10 points at halftime, that’s more toughness than anything. Hopefully, we find some before the tournament.”

The shooting woes prohibited the Phoenix from utilizing their fullcourt press. Trailing 34-23 at the end of the third, they finally got the chance with Shink and Frey’s hoops and forced the Ramblers into mistakes that led to more offense. But then they went cold again, missing their last eight shots.

“A lot that has to do with the way we played defense,” MacArthur said. “We’re trying to get them playing Winthrop defense, and we struggle sometimes with communication and trust and five guys playing as a unit. That was the best defense we played all season long.”

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