MADISON — It wasn’t the resounding response on the scoreboard it looked like it would be. But for coach Joe Burnham and the Winthrop girls basketball team, it was enough.

Kena Souza scored 14 points, Aaliyah WilsonFalcone and Madison Forgue added 12 apiece, and the Ramblers moved on from their first loss of the season with a 52-48 victory over Madison on Monday night.

“We certainly emphasized tonight looking through the windshield, not through the rear-view mirror,” Burnham said. “And we did a lot of nice things, for (most) of those minutes. We’ve got to clean up (the last) six minutes. We’re playing some exciting basketball right now, maybe a little too exciting.”

True to Burnham’s critique, it wasn’t as easy as it was on track to being. Winthrop (9-1) led by as many as 15 points and took a 44-30 advantage into the third quarter, but Madison rallied back, closing to within a single possession at 51-48 in the final minute.

“I thought we’d have plenty of opportunities to get good baskets in there, and we did,” said coach Al Veneziano, whose team fell to 5-6. “We had plenty of opportunities to get good shots, we played good defense and we forced some things that they might not take all the time. I thought we got some great shots on our end once we played that defense.”

Still, it was a win, one that the Ramblers needed to dispel any lingering frustration after Saturday night’s loss to Oak Hill. Winthrop had won eight in a row but nothing went right in Wales, as the Raiders overwhelmed their conference rival, 32-13.

“We weren’t ready for Oak Hill’s physicality, and they do a lot of things that we struggle with,” Burnham said. “We missed five breakaway layups, all of our threes. I think we shot a single-digit percentage. It was a combination of things.”

His players were eager for a chance to turn the page.

“Over the weekend we were just mentally preparing for this game,” Souza said. “We weren’t just going to let that bring us down.”

Winthrop got the message early, scoring 13 of the first 17 points and taking a 30-18 lead by halftime. Souza had 12 points in the half, Forgue had 10 and the Ramblers knocked down four 3-pointers while taking command of the game.

“For the first half, we were doing really well with the ball movement,” Souza said. “Penetrating, taking good shots that we had, and working all together.”

In the second half, however, Winthrop’s possessions became more rushed and its shot selection grew erratic, and in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs took advantage. Abi Spaulding hit a 3-pointer to narrow the gap to single digits, and Katie Worthen hit another to make it 50-44 with 1:33 to play.

“Going into the fourth quarter with a 14-point lead, our first three possessions were three passes and three misses,” said Burnham, who got seven rebounds apiece from Souza and Katie Perkins and six from Layne Audet. “Not exactly how you want to go into the fourth quarter with winning ways, but you’ve got to hand it to our girls, they stuck with it.”

They let Madison inch closer, as Lauria LeBlanc had first two free throws and then a basket to make it 51-48 with 36.2 seconds left, but Jillian Schmelzer — who scored all seven of her points in the second half — hit a free throw to deny Madison a chance at a tying shot as time ran out.

Even with the loss, Veneziano knew the second-half rally would only help his team as it looks to make a move into the top half of the C South standings.

“I thought it was a good effort and a good finish,” he said. “It should be big for us. The girls will take that in and process that. It should be big. This is one of the top teams in Class C South right now, and we battled them right to the end.”

Emily Edgerly led the way offensively, but Madison saw a cast of players take their turns making plays late. LeBlanc scored eight points, while Spaulding had seven, Landyn Landry had six and Worthen had all five of her points in the fourth quarter.

“That’s what I think we have to have,” Veneziano said. “To have a team, you have to get that type of scoring. You’re going to have to get multiple people to score consistently.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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