WINTHROP — In a Mountain Valley Conference campaign shaping up to go down to the wire, a midseason matchup between two of the league’s top girls basketball teams similarly went all the way to the final buzzer.

Chloe Arsenault scored a game-high 24 points and Boothbay rallied back from a fourth-quarter deficit before holding on in a frantic final few seconds to hand Winthrop a 51-49 loss Wednesday night. The victory revived a Boothbay squad trying to solidify its identity in the second half of the season, while also knocking the Ramblers (8-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten.

“This means a lot,” Arsenault said. “We know Winthrop is a strong team, we knew they were going to be good. We respect that, but now there are no more undefeated teams in the conference.”

Boothbay (7-2) also got 11 points each from Glory Blethen and Madison Faulkingham in the win. Faulkingham connected three times from beyond the arc.

Winthrop’s Aaliyah WilsonFalcone and Kena Souza each scored 12 in the loss.

The night, though, belonged to Arsenault, who repeatedly sliced her way through the Winthrop defense out of the Seahawks’ half-court offense. She scored 15 of her points after halftime.

“She’s a floor general,” Boothbay coach Brian Blethen said. “She’s a lunch box kid. She’s a hard-hat, work her tail off type of kid. It’s that work ethic that leads the team, and she’s been that way for her whole career.”

Consecutive steals and layups out of a full-court press for the Ramblers opened a 42-38 lead for the home team with 4:29 remaining in a game that saw a total of 10 lead changes. But Winthrop went cold both from the field and from the charity stripe after the momentum shift, and Boothbay went on a 13-2 run to pull ahead 50-44 in the final minute of play.

Arsenault scored six points in the Boothbay run.

“Our main thing is defense,” Arsenault said of holding Winthrop without a field goal for more than four minutes late in the final period. “We know in close games that we can close it out. We all believe in each other.”

But Winthrop was not done yet.

The same pressure that had flummoxed the Seahawks at times in the second half did the same inside the final 30 seconds of the fourth quarter. A steal from Souza turned into a fast-break layup, and another steal turned into Souza’s 3-pointer from the right wing.

That cut the Boothbay lead to 51-49 with 14 seconds remaining, yet a third Rambler steal — this time from Lydia Rice — gave Winthrop a chance to tie.

But an inbounds play under the Boothbay basket produced a 5-second violation from Winthrop’s offense out of a timeout, and Boothbay was afforded the chance to seal the victory.

“That falls on me,” Winthrop coach Joe Burnham said. “You don’t drop a play that takes 4 seconds to materialize. We can’t take a 5-second call there. That’s my fault, and as coaches we’ll get better.”

“We saw our will to win tonight,” Blethen said. “You have to play the game for 32 minutes, for the entire game. You have to bring that (effort) every single night.”

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