MADISON — What Winthrop High School boys basketball coach Todd McArthur lacks in crafting metaphors, he more than makes up for as a basketball coach. He knows how to get his Ramblers into position to chase state championships, even if the way he describes it is meh.

“It’s a dumb analogy, but it’s like making a cake. We know the ingredients. Now let’s not screw up making the cake. The difference is, we have different bakers now,” McArthur said after Thursday’s 66-41 win at Madison.

There are 132 high school varsity boys basketball teams in the state. Five of them, just under four percent, will hoist a gold ball at the end of the season. It’s not easy to do.

The Winthrop High School boys basketball team knows this. Coming off a Class C state championship last season, the Ramblers have seven graduated seniors to replace. That group includes Cam Wood, a Mr. Basketball semifinalist who had 16 points and 13 rebounds in the 61-49 win over Houlton in the state game last March. It includes Sam Figueroa, a guy who did the dirty work in the low post, a guy every team needs and the lucky ones have. It includes sharpshooter Nate LeBlanc, who hit a pair of clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of the state game win.

“Last was definitely a cool year to have. Jumping into a new season, it’s like last season. We’re all working hard,” Winthrop senior Ryan Baird said.

High school dynasties are hard to maintain simply because players grow up and move on. Colleges can keep a good thing going when they’re able to cherry pick the players they want. High school coaches are at the whim of the local talent pool. You get what you get and you do your best to mold it into something good.

At Winthrop, McArthur is one of the best at forming that mound of basketball clay into something beautiful.

“We had that discussion in summer basketball about turning the page. But you don’t want to turn the page on the process of getting the job done,” McArthur said. “You take that and you try to learn from the experiences even though it’s a different team, and you try to apply it to a new team. The process is sometimes more important than the whole thing.”

The Ramblers don’t show up in every gym they play carrying the gold ball in front of them as a totem, but the confidence that comes with winning that hardware that’s back in the Winthrop trophy case is evident.

It’s a small sample size, just two games, but the Ramblers are in good shape. Saturday, Winthrop breezed to a win over Carrabec. Thursday, the Ramblers scored the first eight points of the game at Madison and never trailed.

Against Madison, they did it with scoring depth. Six players scored in the first quarter, with Cam Hachey’s four leading the way. The Ramblers did it with defense, forcing 23 turnovers andpestering the Bulldogs up and down the court.

Winthrop did it with consistency, scoring 33 points in each half. The Ramblers did it with poise. When the Bulldogs went on a modest 8-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to cut Winthrop’s lead from 21 points to 13, the Ramblers took a deep breath and scored the final 12 points of the game to close things out.

“We’re all confident in each other,” Baird said.

McArthur has built the Ramblers into a perennial contender in Class C. That must be one heck of a cake recipe.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

 

Comments are not available on this story.