BOX SCORE

Waynflete 44 Winthrop 27

Wa- 4 17 11 12- 44
Wi- 3 4 9 11- 27

Wa- Adey 4-1-10, Cox 4-1-9, Hart 2-2-7, Campbell 1-4-6, Kirby 2-1-5, Isherwood 1-0-3, Nkingi 1-0-2, Reese 1-0-2

Wi- Foster 7-1-15, Baird 2-1-5, Graves 1-0-3, Bard 1-0-2, Beck 1-0-2

3-pointers:
Wa (3) Adey, Hart, Isherwood 1
Wi (1) Graves 1

Turnovers:
Wa- 19
Wi- 19

FTs
Wa: 9-14
Wi: 2-5

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AUGUSTA—Waynflete’s boys’ basketball team has enjoyed its share of magical moments at the Augusta Civic Center over the years.

But never have the Flyers shaken up the Maine high school sports world quite like they did Monday evening.

Waynflete, ranked eighth in Class C South, needed overtime to survive No. 9 Madison in the preliminary round last week and was given little chance to compete with top-ranked, reigning champion Winthrop in the quarterfinals.

But the Flyers players and coaches believed they could not only compete, but win.

And that’s exactly what happened.

In shockingly decisive fashion.

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Waynflete’s zone defense gave the Ramblers problems from the onset, but the Flyers couldn’t generate much offense either in a first quarter that ended with them on top, 4-3.

Waynflete’s defense remained superb in the second period, holding Winthrop to just four points, and its offense came to life as senior Ed Cox scored four easy baskets to help the Flyers open up a 21-7 advantage.

When juniors Cole Isherwood and Matt Adey opened the second half with 3-pointers, Waynflete was up 20 and while the Ramblers finally showed a little life, the Flyers were still in front by 16 points, 32-16, heading to the fourth period.

There, Winthrop never drew closer than 13 and Waynflete hit its free throws to close out a 44-27 victory.

The Flyers displayed their usual balance, as eight players scored, led by Adey with 10 points, and they improved to 10-9, ended the Ramblers’ season at 15-5, their title reign at two years and advanced to take on No. 5 Monmouth Academy (13-4) in the semifinals Thursday at 8:30 p.m., in Augusta.

“It’s such a great feeling,” Cox said. “It was really surprising. I knew we could do it, but I didn’t think we could do it on this scale. I thought it would be a lot closer.”

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Shock city in the capital city

Waynflete has knocked loudly on the championship door for many years, but a first-ever title has eluded the Flyers, most recently when they lost to Winthrop, 39-30, in the regional final two years ago. This year, Waynflete finished with a below .500 mark for the first time in a dozen years, but the Flyers outlasted ninth-ranked Madison, 54-53, in overtime, in the preliminary round last Wednesday (see sidebar for links to previous game stories).

Winthrop won its second consecutive Class C championship in 2020 and this year, was its usual strong self, winning 14 games, earning the top seed in the region, then eliminating No. 16 Buckfield, 57-22, in last week’s preliminary round.

The Flyers and Ramblers didn’t meet this year. Winthrop had taken two of three prior playoff encounters (see sidebar for results)

Monday, Waynflete imposed its will from start to finish and sprung arguably the biggest upset in program history.

Waynflete sophomore Nico Kirby hounds Winthrop senior Logan Baird during the Flyers’ 44-27 upset win Monday night. Hoffer photos.

Offense was very much at a premium in the first quarter, as the Ramblers got open shots, but couldn’t knock them down.

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It took over three minutes for the first points to be scored, as Cox set up sophomore Nico Kirby for a layup to put Waynflete on top. After senior Logan Baird made a foul shot for the Ramblers, junior Connor Ford fed freshman Demetrius Campbell for a layup.

Then, with time winding down, freshman Cole Bard made a layup for Winthrop to cut the Flyers’ advantage to 4-3.

“After the first quarter, we were locking them down on defense, so I felt good,” Cox said.

Offense did pick up in the second quarter, for one team anyway, as Waynflete stretched its lead.

Cox started the frame with consecutive layups.

“It was all my teammates,” Cox said. “They got the ball down to me faster than the defense could get back.”

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Senior David Nkingi then knocked down a short jumper to make it 10-3.

Winthrop got a driving layup from senior Andrew Foster, but Kirby drained a baseline jumper, then Cox put back a miss for a 14-5 lead.

With 4:04 to go in the half, Baird set up Foster for a layup, but that would be it for the Ramblers’ offense before the break.

The Flyers then closed on a 7-0 run, as Cox made another layup, Kirby added a free throw, Hart broke the press, then set up Adey for a layup, then Adey returned the favor, finding Hart for a layup and a staggering 21-7 halftime lead.

Cox outscored Winthrop by himself in the half, tallying eight points, and Waynflete forced 10 turnovers.

The Ramblers settled down and generated some offense in the third period, but couldn’t cut into the deficit as the Flyers remained poised and opportunistic.

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After a scoreless minute-and-a-half to start the second half, Isherwood hit a 3 to get Waynflete going.

Then, with 5:59 to go, Hart fed Adey for a 3 and stunningly, the lead was 20.

“We did a good job beating their press and finding the open man,” Hart said. “We practiced all week and we knew what was coming and we prepared really well. I feel like we’ve been a pretty good defensive team all year. We pride ourselves on defense and we knew coming into this game that defense would be a major part of winning. We wanted to talk on defense. We knew if we played well on defense, we’d get good looks on offense.”

With 5 minutes left in the third, Winthrop finally reached double figures, as Foster converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul and free throw) to snap a 7 minute, 4 second drought and a 13-0 Flyers’ run.

Foster added a layup, but Adey got free at the other end for a layup.

After a Baird putback, Cox made a free throw and after Baird scored on another putback, sophomore Ishan Reese made a short shot to send Waynflete to the fourth quarter ahead by the score of 32-16.

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When Hart opened the final stanza with a 3, the lead was 19, but the Ramblers responded with their lone run of the game, scoring six straight points.

Foster got things started with a putback. Foster then set up junior Matthew Beck for a layup and with 4:04 to go, Foster scored on a putback to make it 35-22.

“I hear a theory about time being an illusion, but time’s not an illusion when you’re ahead and you just want that clock to move,” said Waynflete coach Rich Henry.

Campbell then stemmed the tide with two free throws and after Foster hit a runner, Campbell made two more foul shots.

Adey then made a free throw, Hart sank a pair and with 37.6 seconds left, Kirby set up Adey for a layup for the Flyers’ final points.

Senior Chase Graves made a late 3-pointer, but it far too little, too late for Winthrop and at 10:09 p.m., Waynflete was able to celebrate its seismic 44-27 victory.

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Waynflete celebrates its victory at the final horn.

“It was communication and energy and having our hands up the whole time,” Cox said. “We knew they didn’t shoot very well from outside the 3, so we condensed in the middle.”

“We knew were capable of doing it,” Hart said. “It’s just sheer joy. We all wanted this win so badly. It feels great. We believed in each other. The second half of the season, we had a major turnaround. We have quite a young team so we got our footing the first half of the season, but the second half, we played much more like ourselves, so we came up here confident. I think the multi-sport athletes and veterans on the team bring perspective and a level of intensity and knowledge.”

“No one saw it coming and in the doldrums of January, when we paused for a week and we had different guys testing positive for COVID, if you told me this would happen, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Henry said. “We have the utmost respect for (Winthrop). They’re the number one team for a reason. They’re unbelievable on defense. I hoped we could pass the ball and be prepared for their press and hoped they wouldn’t have a great shooting night and we were fortunate in both respects. I was hoping that the diagonal pass would be open against pressure if we didn’t dribble right away and the guys were really good at that. It wasn’t just the guys on the floor, but also the guys who helped us in practice get ready for (Winthrop’s) pressure.

“My teams used to play a lot more zone. We haven’t been great recently playing zone, so I thought that could be the right approach. I will say that this team has been really focused the past two or three weeks. It’s made my job easier.”

Adey paced the balanced Flyers’ attack with 10 points. He also had four rebounds and two assists. Cox had nine points and five rebounds. Hart added seven points, five assists and three steals. Campbell had six points, seven rebounds and blocked a couple shots. Kirby finished with five points, five rebounds and three assists. Isherwood added three points (along with five rebounds and three steals) and Nkingi and Reese both had two points.

“That balance shows how we pass the ball and make sure everyone gets their shots,” Cox said.

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Waynflete had a 28-20 rebound advantage, overcame 19 turnovers and hit 9-of-14 free throws.

Winthrop got a game-high 15 points from Foster, who also grabbed eight rebounds. Baird added five points, four rebounds, three steals and a pair of assists. Graves scored three points, while Bard and Beck both added two.

The Ramblers made 2-of-5 free throws and turned the ball over 19 times.

“Nothing went right tonight,” said Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur. “We didn’t make shots, we didn’t take care of the ball, we didn’t execute. It was a snowball effect. With that being said, you have to tip your cap to Waynflete. They’re a well-coached team. A lot of great athletes. I was impressed the way they play the game together. The ball moves from one kid to the next kid to the next kid. They don’t care who gets the shot, they get the right shot every possession. Just being a basketball fan, I’m envious of how they move the basketball. They caused us not to execute well. We didn’t hit gaps. We didn’t make two-play-one. We didn’t get ready to shoot. We just played very tentative.

“I am proud of my kids. The talk will be what we didn’t do but the talk for me is what we did do. The seniors gave this program, me, themselves everything. One game doesn’t define them. I always say that I’ll go down with my seniors. I love those kids and I’m thankful for all they gave this program.”

Back to Augusta

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Waynflete will travel north again on Thursday to take on a Monmouth Academy squad which held off No. 4 St. Dom’s, 50-47, in its quarterfinal Monday.

The teams didn’t play this year. The Flyers won both prior playoff meetings, 78-47 in the 2013 Western C quarterfinals and 66-51 in the 2014 Western C quarterfinals.

Rest assured that no one will overlook Waynflete this time.

“It’s a great feeling to come back here,” said Cox. “Monmouth looked pretty good too. I think if we study them and stay dialed in, we’ll have a good shot.”

“We just have to keep playing like ourselves,” Hart said. “We’re confident in how we play. We’ll look at what Monmouth does, but I think it’s about what we do and if we play well, we’ll be fine.”

“We need to focus and scout up on (Monmouth),” Henry added. “They present a different challenge than Winthrop, so we’ll have to get ready.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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