AUGUSTA — At this point in the season, Winthrop boys basketball coach Todd MacArthur knows his team is ready to play tough, tournament basketball.

“At tournament time, it’s like a dog. You take the leash off and you let them go and it’s all on them. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” MacArthur said.

After a slow start Monday night at the Augusta Civic Center, the Ramblers went off. Winthrop’s strong defensive effort was the key to its 53-24 win over rival Monmouth in the Class C South quarterfinals. Top-seeded Winthrop, now 18-1, will face No.4 North Yarmouth Academy in the regional semifinals Thursday. No. 9 Monmouth ends the season at 11-9.

Tied 9-9 late in the the first quarter, Winthrop clamped down defensively, holding the Mustangs to 15 points over the final three quarters. The key was containing Monmouth’s top shooters, Gabe Martin, Brock Bates, and Hayden Fletcher. Those three players combined for just seven points, and Martin went without a field goal.

“We were practicing all week. Really keeping certain players to one side of the floor,” Winthrop’s Ryan Baird said.

Added MacArthur: “We knew there’s some scorers that are more dangerous than others. We wanted to make sure we knew where they were. We really wanted to know where Martin was. He’s a dangerous player and can shoot the ball.”

Winthrop forced 28 Monmouth turnovers, and pulled away in the third quarter scoring in transition and pounding the ball inside.

“They made a run, then we really settled in. It seems like I get a group, and they always step it up when it comes to defense and what we’re trying to allow,” MacArthur said. “We wanted to make sure they played at a faster pace then they were comfortable with.”

Baird and Gavin Perkins each scored 14 points for the Ramblers, while Jevin Smith added 12.

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