January 7, 2011

Winthrop rides zone defense to upset of Wiscasset

By Gary Hawkins
Staff Writer

Winthrop High School coach Rollie Pelkey owes Syracuse University coach Jim Boeheim a thank-you note.


1. Cheverus
2. Camden Hills
3. Thornton Academy
4. Hampden Academy
5. Bangor
6. Edward Little
7. Westbrook
8. Cape Elizabeth
9. Mt. Blue
10. Greely


• Monmouth senior Roger Bachelder scored a game-high 18 points in a win against Hall-Dale.
• Gardiner junior Jake Palmer scored 20 points to help the Tigers defeat Nokomis.
• Cony junior Robert Foss converted a rebound at the buzzer as the Rams defeated Skowhegan 45-43.
• Winthrop senior Billy Gordon scored a game-high 18 points as the Ramblers upset previously unbeaten Wiscasset.

Pelkey's Ramblers unveiled a 2-3 zone against previously unbeaten Wiscasset on Wednesday night and played it as well as they could have the first time out. It resulted in a 49-33 win that pushed Winthrop to 5-2 in Mountain Valley Conference play.

As upsets go, given Winthrop's lack of depth and experience, this one ranks as shocking.

"It's the first time we've used it," Pelkey said of the defense. "We've been working on it all year, but they just weren't getting it."

Pelkey showed the team a video of the vaunted Syracuse 2-3 zone and his team started to see what he was talking about.

"Everything fell into place," he said. "They really played it well."

The visiting Redskins cut the lead to four points early in the fourth quarter but the Ramblers put the game away by making 14 free throws down the stretch. Senior Billy Gordon scored eight of his game-high 18 points in the quarter.

Pelkey, who used just six players, hopes to expand his bench with the return next week of senior forward Ryan Castonguay who has missed several weeks with mononucleosis.

"We're two (wins) ahead of last year already," Pelkey said. "We don't want to be the doormats anymore. It's going to give us some confidence for sure."

• • •

Gardiner, which has risen to the occasion in two recent tests, faces another Saturday when it hosts unbeaten Winslow.

"We've actually been scouting them all week," Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said. "They play hard 100 percent of the time and they play intelligently."

The Black Raiders (6-0) have a number of weapons led by senior Mike McCann and junior Justin Murray.

"McCann has always been tough," Cassidy said. "But Murray has really developed his game in that he can get to the rim and he's really developed his jump shot."

The Tigers were 5-2 going into Thursday night's game against Maine Central Institute. They knocked off Nokomis at home Tuesday night and beat Camden Hills last Thursday in the championship game of the Capital Area Hoop Classic.

Although the win over Camden Hills was an exhibition, it boosted Gardiner's confidence.

"Coach (Jeff) Hart used all his timeouts," Cassidy said. "Anyone who knows them knows they were there to win."

The Tigers saw two of the state's top players in Chris Braley for Nokomis and Tyler McFarland for Camden Hills, each of whom are viewed as good college prospects. Braley scored 30 points while McFarland had 17.

"They both have different (players) around them," Cassidy said. "(Braley) doesn't have quite as much around him."

Junior guard Jake Palmer has come on strong for Gardiner in the last few games. He led the Tigers with 20 points against Nokomis.

"I think Jake is getting more comfortable in his reads," Cassidy said. "He's a very competitive kid. He's really learned to focus that a little bit."

• • •

Much as his older brother Mike did, Hall-Dale sophomore Sam Shepherd has developed into an effective shot blocker. The 6-foot-4 forward blocked eight shots against Monmouth and is averaging nearly seven a game this season.

"I think I was a little inspired by his shot-blocking," said Sam, who is four-and-a-half years younger than Mike.

Shepherd played point guard in middle school but has since grown seven inches. He's adept at blocking shots without drawing many fouls.

"I would say that the majority of the time it isn't his man," Hall-Dale coach Jim Patrick said. "It's guards that are dribble driving, and he's there to pick it up."

(Continued on page 2)

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