WINTHROP — It was one of the biggest wins of the season for the Winthrop boys basketball team. Maybe the biggest.

And it took everything the Ramblers had.

Cam Wood scored 27 points, Jared McLaughlin knocked down four clutch free throws and Winthrop outlasted fellow Mountain Valley Conference contender Boothbay 65-61 Wednesday night.

Winthrop improved to 12-1. Boothbay, which got 23 points from Hunter Crocker, 13 points and eight rebounds from Ben Pearce and 10 points from Steve Reny, fell to 10-4.

“I don’t think we had our best stuff tonight, but when we needed to buckle down and make plays, I thought they did a good job of refocusing,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said. “That’s a great high school basketball game. That’s two teams going at it, so much respect to Boothbay because they’re a great program, well, well coached, and I personally love playing them because we usually have games like that.”

Down 45-44 after three rocky quarters, the Ramblers grabbed three separate leads in the fourth, but saw Boothbay overcome each one and work its way to a 59-56 lead with 2:21 left.

Wood got a steal and a dunk with 1:43 left, however, and McLaughlin got a steal on the next possession and was fouled going in for the layup. He knocked down both free throws, putting Winthrop ahead 60-59 with 1:10 left, and he hit another pair with 39 seconds left to put the lead at 62-59.

The game hinged on each shot, but McLaughlin said afterward the weight of the moment never got to to him.

“It’s just another foul shot,” he said. “We just practice on foul shots, foul shots, foul shots. We were struggling at the beginning of the season, but we’ve really started to pick it up with foul shots and making them.”

A Ryan Baird putback made it a five-point game, and though Boothbay’s Michael Hollowell had a putback to cut the deficit to three, Sam Figueroa made a free throw to make it 65-61 with 12.8 seconds left and all but seal the game.

“It’s a huge win,” said McLaughlin. “I’m really excited about it. It’s going to help in playoffs a lot (with) getting a good seed.”

For Winthrop, it was a happy ending to what was looking like a night of frustration. The Ramblers were baited into one turnover after another by the Seahawks’ zone defense and spent most of the first three quarters trying to catch Boothbay from behind.

“I thought Boothbay did a really nice job of just getting us out of our comfort zone,” MacArthur said. “They do a good job with that zone, they extend it, they cover gaps. It’s different for us in terms of what we normally run.”

To combat it, the Ramblers leaned on the big man. The 6-foot-8 Wood had 15 points by halftime, and after Boothbay’s lead swelled to 42-35 with 3:47 left in the third he had first a layup and then a dunk, the latter of which made it 42-41 with 1:04 left in the period.

Wood also grabbed a rebound on Boothbay’s next trip down, setting up a Winthrop possession that ended with a 3-pointer from Cam Hachey (12 points) that put the Ramblers in front 44-42 with 40 seconds left.

“In big games like this, you’ve got to step up,” Wood said. “If that’s what makes the team better, that’s what I’ve got to do.”

Wood wasn’t finished, scoring four more points in the fourth, two of which came on a basket inside that put Winthrop ahead 56-55 with 3:02 to go.

“We all really kept ourselves together and composed,” said the senior, who added nine rebounds. “We knew we could come back.”

And still, it nearly wasn’t enough, as Sullivan Rice hit a pair of free throws on back-to-back possessions to turn the one-point deficit into the three-point lead with 2:21 left.

The Ramblers, however, had a final answer.

“We’re getting to that stretch in the season where every game matters,” MacArthur said. “Both teams wanted this game, Boothbay came in really hungry and really aggressive. … They just came up short. We probably made the plays at the end a little bit more than they did.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: