WINTHROP — First, Madison Forgue hit the biggest shot of the Winthrop girls basketball team’s season. Then the rest of the Ramblers didn’t let another chance at their biggest win of the year get away.

Forgue hit a game-tying 3-pointer just before the final buzzer, and Winthrop rode that momentum to a 61-58 overtime victory over B South contender Mountain Valley on Thursday night at Winthrop High School.

The win extended Winthrop’s undefeated start to 8-0, and it didn’t come easily. The Ramblers twice appeared to have the Falcons (8-2) pinned, and twice let them come back, surrendering the lead both times.

With the game in the balance one last time, however, Winthrop was ready.

“We’re certainly resilient, and it certainly can come from lots of different spots,” said coach Joe Burnham, whose team has already eclipsed the win total from last year’s 7-11 mark. “Certainly, last year, this was a little too big for us. In those moments, we crumbled. But I was really happy with the way that we kind of fought back, stuck with it and at least gave ourselves an opportunity.”

Mountain Valley slumped in the first half before roaring back in the second, riding 24 points from Rylee Sevigny to the brink of victory. But a final Winthrop rally left the Falcons dealing with disappointment.

“I certainly can’t fault the girls’ effort,” coach Craig Milledge said. “For us to hang around and to come back like that showed a lot of resiliency on the girls’ part. They always play that hard.”

Mountain Valley trailed 27-15 at halftime, clawed back to take the lead, then fell behind 48-40 with just under seven minutes to play before surging ahead again, getting five points from Sevigny in the span of 27 seconds to break a 50-50 tie and go up 55-52 with 12.6 seconds left.

Burnham then brought in Forgue, who had only four points at the time, to try to tie the game.

“It’s kind of unfair sometimes for us to sub a girl in cold from the bench and tell her she’s got to go shoot the game-tying three,” Burnham said. “But she responded just like everybody else did tonight.”

Aaliyah WilsonFalcone (team-high 13 points) brought the ball up and it was eventually kicked out to Forgue in the left corner, who quickly got the shot up before the Falcons defender closed in — then watched it fall to tie the game at 55 with 1.5 seconds to go.

“I was extremely nervous,” Forgue, a sophomore, said. “I saw the girl come up to guard me, so I just dribbled and stepped back. I just crossed my fingers.”

The Ramblers had new life, and took advantage in overtime. WilsonFalcone stole the ball and went in for a layup on the first possession, then hit a free throw to make it 58-55 with 2:25 left.

“When Madison hit that shot, I just saw everybody’s faces light up,” said WilsonFalcone (eight rebounds). “We did not want to lose this game. And when she hit that shot, we saw it as an opportunity. And we didn’t want to waste it.”

While Mountain Valley struggled, missing its first five shots of overtime, Winthrop kept building what became an insurmountable lead, as Jillian Schmelzer (11 points) hit a pair of free throws and Forgue (eight points) hit one to make it 61-55 with 1:01 left. An Avery Sevigny (five points, nine rebounds) 3-pointer made it 61-58 and restored some drama with 29 seconds left, but with the Falcons at the foul limit, their chances were crippled.

Milledge said the team had started fighting an uphill battle well before.

“The 3-point shot (was) certainly a back-breaker,” he said. “I thought we defended it well, I thought that we contested like we should. … It took the wind out of our sails, and they outplayed us in overtime.”

Winthrop handled the Falcons in the first half as well, building a double-digit lead on the strength of eight points from Kena Souza (11 points, nine rebounds) and seven from Schmelzer. Mountain Valley found a rhythm in the third quarter, however, getting 14 points from Rylee Sevigny and 23 points altogether to take its first lead at 38-37 on a Sevigny 3-pointer with 39 seconds left before Layne Audet (10 points, eight rebounds) put the Ramblers back in front just before the end of the period.

“People see Rylee in the scorebook and the newspaper, they see the points, and that’s impressive,” Milledge said, “but what really separates her is that she’s the kind of girl that can really calm everything down. She’s the kind of girl that can handle pressure. … That’s far more important to us than even the scoring.”

Winthrop came out hot at the start of the fourth and scored nine of the first 11 points of the quarter, taking the 48-40 lead on a pair of WilsonFalcone free throws with 6:50 left. But the Falcons’ Kierstyn Lyons (11 points) scored eight in a row to tie the game at 48, setting up the race to the end of regulation — and beyond.

“We’ve been in a lot of tight games, and learning how to win is a real skill,” said Milledge, who also got eight points apiece from Saydie Garbarini and Courtney Carrier (13 rebounds). “They’ve been in that moment a lot. … I don’t think getting down a few points late necessarily intimidates them, or overwhelms them. They keep their composure very well. Unfortunately, tonight we just came out on the short end.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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