BANGOR — On February 2, the Winslow High School girls basketball team made the 1.7 mile drive over the Kennebec River and through five traffic lights to Waterville High, and lost. The score was 33-31, not a blowout by any definition, but the loss set the tone for the Black Raiders. After the game, assistant coach Josh Withee, referred to as Coach Withee Male by senior Haley Ward to differentiate himself from his wife, head coach Lindsey Withee, spoke up.

“Coach Withee Male actually said that after we lost the Waterville game. He said we were a state championship team,” Ward said. “Coach Withee (Lindsey) said ‘Are you sure?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I have a feeling.’ And he was right.”

The six minute bus ride back to Winslow from Waterville didn’t give the Black Raiders time to stew on the tight loss, and it’s apparent from Winslow’s results over the last few weeks they let it go pretty quickly. That two-point defeat at the hands of their biggest rival was the last loss of the season for the Black Raiders.

On Friday night, Winslow capped their run from the six seed in the Class B North tournament with a 43-29 victory over Lake Region in the Class B state championship game. Gold Ball raised. Silken net necklaces. Victory parades. The championship was Winslow’s first in girls basketball since 2005. When compared to other title droughts snapped this weekend (the Edward Little boys won a title for the first time since Harry Truman was President, 1946), 13 years is almost literally a lifetime for high school students.

Lindsey Withee knows. It was 17 years ago she won a state championship as a sophomore point guard at Nokomis. Withee joins the exclusive Double Win Club, for those who won a state title as a player and a coach. This one was sweeter, Withee said.

“I will never take anything away from winning a Gold Ball with some of my best friends but winning it as a coach is more rewarding. Playing with my best friends growing up was one of the best experiences. We played from first grade on, together,” she said. “But winning as a coach, you understand what all your coaches did growing up to make it happen. The work that goes into it is amazing. It takes a whole coaching staff and others to make this happen. From scouting, game prep and keeping kids engaged for 100-plus days. (Friday) night was one of the best nights of my life, watching these 17 kids cut down the nets, celebrating and holding that Gold Ball. It was a beautiful sight.”

Winslow earned this Gold Ball with defense. The Black Raiders allowed an average of 32 points per game. The most points Winslow allowed in a playoff game was 39, in a 43-39 win over Presque Isle in the regional final. The 29 points scored by Lake Region on Friday night was the Lakers’ season low. The same for Mt. Desert Island (34 points in a regional quarterfinal loss to Winslow) and John Bapst (26 points in a semifinal loss to the Black Raiders). Only Presque Isle wasn’t held to a season-low by Winslow. In two regular-season losses to MDI, the Wildcats scored fewer than the 39 points they managed in overtime against the Black Raiders.

While all the Black Raiders played defense in the playoffs, many scored, too. Six Black Raiders scored at least seven points in a playoff game. In the state championship, Winslow’s reserves scored 15 of Winslow 43 points, 35 percent of the offense. Opponents were left to answer this question, who do you stop when you have to stop everyone?

After that loss at Waterville, when Coach Withee Male showed off his prediction prowess, the Black Raiders closed the regular season with a 57-31 win over playoff-bound Maine Central Institute. For much of that senior night game, Winslow could do nothing wrong. Offensively. Defensively. On that night, they set the tone for the playoffs.

“These Winslow kids, they have something, for sure. Grit. Perseverance. Tenacity. Right after our Waterville game, we lost at Waterville to a great team at their place,” Lindsey Withee said “(Against MCI) We couldn’t stop scoring. Paige (Trask) came off the bench and hit big threes. We just literally could not stop scoring. That was our turning point. We were playing together.”

Together, the Black Raiders won a championship.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM