Madison Forgue of Winthrop High School floats a shot over Emily Dillman of Oak Hill High School during the fourth period in Wales in January. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The top seed in Class C South, the 16-2 Winthrop Ramblers, are led by a veteran core, including Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year Aaliyah WilsonFalcone 

While WilsonFalcone does a little bit of everything — and does it all well — when times get tough for the Ramblers, they turn to their 3-point shooters: Senior Kena Souza, junior Maidson Forgue and freshman Sage Fortin.  

All three have scored more than 140 points this season, trailing only WilsonFalcone’s 206, and coach Joe Burnham said they’ve all hit more than 30 3-pointers.  

Winthrop had late deficits to both Monmouth and Oak Hill in the team’s final two regularseason games, but a few points is easier for the Ramblers to make up than most teams.  

Monmouth nearly took down the Ramblers on the Mustangs’ senior night, then Oak Hill was trying to win for the top seed in B South. Winthrop won both games late, going on big runs to finish the games.  

“With those three shooters, we are never out of the game,” Burnham said. “When we played Boothbay the first time, we were down seven with 30 seconds left and Souza hit two (3s) to come back and almost won it on her last attempt at the end of the game.” 

The Ramblers start four seniors on the team and Souza might be their most dynamic of the group.  

“This year I feel like I have become a stronger all-around basketball player,” Souza said. “Strong under the net, but still being able to hit 3s.” 

Souza has 142 points on the season and is a close second in rebounds on the team with 100 (Natalie Frost has 111). Souza also has the second-most blocks on the team.  

“When she was a freshman she was a little bit smaller and played guard, but now she’s our five,” Burnham said. “She has such a quick release and is fearless of any shot she sees out there. When she hits shots, it seems to always give us a jolt of energy. I think she led in 3s and (nearly) led us in rebounds. That’s not normal, so she’s kind of a matchup nightmare. She will drag (defenders) out to the perimeter.” 

When she brings the other team’s forwards out to the perimeter, that opens up the lane for slashers like WilsonFalcone and Jillian Schmelzer. If it is WilsonFalcone and Schmelzer driving with the ball, then someone is always open on the outside.  

“They certainly are the drive and slash players and make good shots, so if they’re collapsing the defense then everyone else is just getting ready to shoot,” Burnham said. “Everyone has bought into their roles and I think we have averaged over 60 points a game, while previous teams were around 40-45.” 

The only non-senior starter is Forgue, who is just as, if not more, creative on offense than Schmelzer and WilsonFalcone.  

“She’s probably the most creative player I’ve ever coached,” Burnham said. “Sometimes it’s too creative, but she gets to the rim and sees angles that kids don’t see and if she is at the 3-point line she makes teams pay.” 

Forgue said she has definitely taken more 3s this year than her previous two, but said it’s to the team’s advantage.  

“When we take these shots the defense will start creeping out on us, and that creates more opportunities for Jillian and Aaliyah and Natalie cutting in the paint, or Natalie to do a post move, and it all meshes together really nicely,” Forgue said. 

Winthrop is full of veterans who have been through the ringer and have grown through the program together.  

One player that has been thrown into the fold is Fortin, a freshman that while new to some opposing coaches, has been working on her craft for years. Fortin plays for Blue Wave Basketball, an AAU team in Maine, and while standing just-over five feet tall, according to Burnham, the freshman has been a firestarter off the bench.  

“With her coming in, I know she has played more ball coming in than some of my seniors in their four years,” Burnham said. “It’s Sunday right now, I am sure she is working out. I have seen her coming up through the Winthrop system and knew she was going to be a special player, and she hasn’t disappointed.”  

Fortin, who with 148 points on the season is second on the team, comes off the bench just because of how stacked with productive veterans Winthrop is, but will soon find her way into the starting lineup in the coming years. Still, she wasn’t nervous joining a veteran team. 

“I had high expectations for myself,” Fortin said. “I knew we had five seniors, so if I wanted playing time I had to step up. I am confident in myself and I take a lot of 3s, so I have to be on my game to really help the team.” 

The freshman has been working on her craft since she was seven. Now, at 14, she is ready for the next step in her career as she enters the playoffs with a full regular season with her teammates under her belt. 

“We are very confident in each other as teammates on the kickouts,” Fortin said. “We all have confidence in each other and know that we can hopefully hit the shot.” 

Winthrop will take on No. 9 Carrabec in the Class C South quarterfinals at 9 p.m. on Tuesday at Augusta Civic Center. If the Ramblers find themselves down early, they’ve proven to themselves that they don’t need to panic.  

“That’s the beauty of this team with older senior leadership, is we can jump out to big leads,” Burnham said. “If it so happens we get down, it doesn’t seem to matter what you’re down by, those girls don’t care.” 

“This team is full of intensity,” Souza said. “We never give up.” 

Winthrop’s Kena Souza snags a rebound from Boothbay’s Kylie Brown in Winthrop in January. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy Buy this Photo

Oak Hill senior guard Desirae Dumais (13) tries to take a shot as Winthrop freshman guard Sage Fortin (3) get her hand on the ball in a basketball game in Winthrop on Feb. 5. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal


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