WINTHROP — During the regular season, Cam Hachey would get the ball behind the arc, and before the junior guard even began to shoot, the noise from the Winthrop High School fans would start to rise.

They knew what was developing. Hachey was a secret going into this season. But as the Winthrop boys basketball team has journeyed to the Class C state championship game, the secret’s come out.

Hachey, in his first full varsity season, has emerged as a dangerous shooter and an X-factor for the Ramblers (20-1), who will play Houlton on Saturday night for their first Class C title since 2008. He comes off the bench for Winthrop, and has developed a knack for the types of big shots that can lift a team in these all-or-nothing games.

“I like coming off the bench and just jumping in,” said Hachey, who has averaged 9.3 points a game during the Ramblers’ run. “I don’t feel like a bench player when I go in. I’m very comfortable with everybody that I’m playing with. I like coming off the bench, there’s no pressure of starting and stuff like that. I like it a lot.”

In Hachey, coach Todd MacArthur has a weapon off the bench. Hachey can help him pull off a rally in a hurry, or stop the bleeding if the opponent is starting to mount a comeback of its own.

“He’s become a kid that we can rely on. … If he has an open look, we expect him to shoot it, and we expect him to make it,” MacArthur said. “He stretches the defenses, he opens the lanes for our big guys down low, and he’s a great sparkplug. And he’s turned himself into a really talented player. To be honest, that’s what we expected out of him from Day 1.”

It took some time. Hachey played JV as a freshman, and was a swing player last year who got only a handful of varsity minutes. But he worked on his shooting touch while playing AAU, and knew he had more to show the Ramblers when the team began its summer play.

“I just put in a lot of work in the offseason,” he said. “This year, I’ve seen the biggest improvement, for sure.”

MacArthur saw it as well.

“It was the end of the summer, we were playing Waynflete and he went 7-for-9 from 3, they ran a 2-3 zone, and he scored 29 points,” he said. “I went ‘OK, this is not a fluke thing. This kid can contribute for us next year.’ ”

MacArthur had a starting shooting guard in Jared McLaughlin, however, so starting was out. But he knew Hachey would be just as effective as a sub.

“He probably could start for us, but his best role is to bring him in off the bench and he’s got fresh legs while everyone else is tired,” MacArthur said. “And when he’s stroking, we’re really dangerous because we extend that defense out, and everyone knows about our size. If we can extend that defense out or he gets open looks, we become more than a single-dimensional team.”

Hachey said there was an acclimation process, but he soon adjusted both to coming off the bench and making the jump to the varsity level.

“(It was) just confidence. In the first few games I had some big shots, knocked some down early in the season,” he said. “It’s definitely something I’ve gotten used to. At first it was a little bit difficult, but I’ve just kind of found it easy to come off the bench, go in there, see how the first one goes and hopefully take a few more.”

He was a weapon all season for the Ramblers, and he’s kept that up in the playoffs. In the regional final victory over Hall-Dale, he scored 10 points by halftime as Winthrop mounted a 34-18 lead. He dealt the Bulldogs a pair of last-second gut punches, hitting a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the first quarter to make it 19-6 and another with two seconds to go before the half. Hall-Dale never recovered.

He’s a shooter that’s there to back us up in times where we need him,” senior center Cam Wood said. “He knows how to come off and hit those shots that need to be hit.”

They’re the shots that can bring a crowd to its feet, and Hachey said he enjoys being called upon to make them.

I love that,” he said. “I love when the crowd goes crazy when I make the shots at the end. That’s what I live for, I love doing that.”

Don’t expect him to pass up those looks on Saturday. And don’t expect the Ramblers to miss him if he’s open.

We just need him to play with confidence and have that shooter’s mentality of ‘If I miss, the next one’s going in,’ ” MacArthur said. “Just keep shooting, because he’s one of the best shooters in the conference, one of the best shooters in the state, in my opinion.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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