BANGOR — In the week leading up to the Class C boys championship game, Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur had shot down the narratives.

It wasn’t about two years ago, he kept saying. That wasn’t on their minds, he insisted.

And on Saturday, as his team celebrated behind him, MacArthur came clean.

Winthrop boys basketball coach Todd McArthur, center, reacts during the Class C state championship game Saturday night at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Morning Sentinel photo y Michael G. Seamans

“We kind of lied before this, about downplaying that,” he said. “We always have conversations in our locker room, and that was a conversation.”

This time, Winthrop did something about it. The Ramblers won their first title since 2008, beating Houlton 61-49 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Cam Wood scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for Winthrop (21-1), which erased for good the bad memories of a 47-44 loss to George Stevens in the title game in Bangor in 2017.

“We actually ended up in the same locker room, and before the game I said ‘This feels right,’ ” MacArthur said. “It was time to make that wrong a right.”

“This is what we all dream about,” Wood added. “Two years ago when we lost, it was heartbreaking. This year, we were out to get revenge. We wanted to come back and get it this time, so that’s what we did.”

Cam Hachey added 12 points on four 3-pointers for the Ramblers, while Nate LeBlanc hit a pair of clutch threes in the fourth quarter that gave Winthrop some separation.

“Destiny is a big word, but it really feels like destiny,” said senior forward Sam Figueroa, who scored nine points and had four rebounds. “After losing two years ago and then losing (in the regional final) last year, it’s just absolutely unbelievable. I have no words.”

Destiny didn’t come easily. Houlton – which got 19 points and seven rebounds from Keegan Gentle, 13 and seven from Nick Brewer and 10 points from Caleb Solomon – had the Ramblers out of sorts en route to taking a 24-20 halftime lead, but Wood’s play inside helped Winthrop work its way to a 40-39 lead early in the fourth.

The game was in the balance, and one of Winthrop’s veterans stepped up. LeBlanc, scoreless to that point, knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, the last one stretching the Ramblers’ lead to 46-41 with 4:42 left.

“The atmosphere was just really intense,” said LeBlanc, who finished with those six points. “You can’t really hear yourself think, you can’t think of anything. You’re shooting your shot.”

MacArthur gave his senior praise for persevering through a rocky winter.

“I think he would look at me and say (he) didn’t have the best regular season,” MacArthur said. “He didn’t shoot the ball very well during the regular season, but when the playoffs come around, he just gets a knack for putting that ball through the hoop. … He’s just a big-time player that likes this opportunity and likes the moment.”

The floodgates had cracked open, and the Ramblers didn’t let this Gold Ball get away. Hachey buried his fourth 3-pointer, Wood had a putback and Jared McLaughlin, hampered throughout by foul trouble, hit a jumper to make it 53-43 with 1:47 left.

The lead didn’t get below 8 the rest of the way.

“Once one person brings it, we all (follow),” LeBlanc said. “We all thrive.”

That wasn’t the case early, as Houlton’s defense took away inside lanes and forced Winthrop into bad outside looks and mistakes.

“We were stagnant,” MacArthur said. “At halftime, we talked about getting back to who we were and the team we had become the last three games.”

The Ramblers did have Wood, and after keeping Winthrop close with 10 points and eight rebounds in the first half, he helped his team rally back in the second, scoring a pair of quick baskets to put Winthrop ahead 26-24 with 6:37 to go in the third quarter.

The Ramblers never trailed again.

“I do my job, I do what I have to do to get the team the win,” Wood said. “The teammates get me open, they give me the ball, I score, that’s what I have to do. If I’m the leading scorer, then I’m the leading scorer. I don’t go out every night saying I need to be the leading scorer.”

Winthrop’s Sam Figueroa trips over a Houlton defender during the Class C state championship game Saturday night at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

“He’s put us on his shoulders the last half of this season, and he’s said we’re not going to be denied,” MacArthur said. “He wanted this moment, and he’s a player that steps up when the moment calls on (him).”

The Ramblers’ role players stepped up from there. Big points remained for Hachey, McLaughlin, LeBlanc and Figueroa, and Ryan Baird (six rebounds) helped limit the Shiretowners to one-and-done possessions.

“It’s those roles,” Figueroa said. “Nate stepped up huge, Hachey’s making his threes, Cam’s doing his thing down low. Everybody’s contributing, and when we go like that, we feel like we can’t be beaten.”

This time, they have the Gold Ball to prove it.

Drew Bonifant – 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

Houlton’s Jaron Gentle soars through the air on his way to the basket as Winthrop’s Jared McLaughlin defends during the Class C state championship game Saturday night at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

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