AUGUSTA — The play is called Spoon, and on Thursday night, it scooped Winthrop a win.

Nate LeBlanc made a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left, giving Winthrop a one-point lead over Boothbay in the Class C South boys basketball semifinals. Rather than prematurely celebrate, the Ramblers got back on defense, and when Cam Wood rebounded Kyle Ames’ miss as time expired, Winthrop had the come-from-behind 61-60 win.

No. 2 Winthrop (16-4), the defending regional champ, will face No. 1 Hall-Dale in the regional final Saturday night at the Augusta Civic Center. No. 6 Boothbay ends the season at 15-6.

LeBlanc’s shot was the exclamation point on Winthrop’s fourth quarter rally, which saw the Ramblers rally from eight points down with 2:48 to play.

“I just told them, I’ve never been prouder of a group of kids. That’s what they needed. They’ve never been in that situation before, where they had to fight, claw and dig deep and execute perfectly. That’s exactly what they did,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said.

Jared McLaughlin scored 23 points for Winthrop. He hit three of his six 3-pointers in the final 3:02 to help fuel the Rambler comeback.

THE PLAY: Down two points with 30 seconds left, Winthrop came out of a timeout with Spoon, a play designed to run against a man-to-man defense. But when the Ramblers saw the Seahawks in a zone, MacArthur told them to run it anyway. It would work.

“We recognized it was zone. We were preparing for man, but we recognized we could still run it,” LeBlanc said.

With just over 10 seconds remaining, Leblanc came off a screen, and buried his wide open look. Leblanc’s shot was the first option of three, MacArthur said, and he praised the junior’s ability to read the situation.

“For a 17-year old kid, going to 17 tomorrow — happy birthday to him — that’s a big moment for him,” MacArthur said. “That’s a testament to him. That’s a big shot in a big moment.”

Boothbay coach IJ Pinkham said the Seahawks were in a triangle and one defense designed to prevent McLaughlin from getting an open shot.

“We were going to chase around (McLaughlin). When they ran the play, we couldn’t get through the screen,” Pinkham said.

Down 25-24 at the half, Boothbay took the lead early in the third quarter. Ames scored all 10 of Boothbay’s second quarter points and finished with 20. Ames hit a pair of foul shots with 6:26 left in the game to give the Seahawks their largest lead, 52-42.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: McLaughlin’s success from long range was a key factor in the Ramblers’ comeback. His three with 1:08 left pulled Winthrop within two points, and when Hunter Crocker (19 points) missed the front of a one-and-one try for Boothbay with 33 seconds left, the Ramblers were still within range for the tie or win.

“We knew they can shoot really well. We can shoot really well, too. We just kept going, kept shooting,” McLaughlin said.

“When we had the 10-point lead, we made some bad decisions in that last three minutes or so,” Pinkham said.

Wood added 15 points for Winthrop.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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