2016-02-16 / Sports

Winthrop ends OOB’s season

By PAT McDONALD
Sports Editor


Old Orchard Beach junior Evan Christensen heads to the basket during Monday’s Class C South quarterfinal game against Winthrop. 
PAT MCDONALD/Journal Tribune Old Orchard Beach junior Evan Christensen heads to the basket during Monday’s Class C South quarterfinal game against Winthrop. PAT MCDONALD/Journal Tribune AUGUSTA — Winthrop got a big game from standout Jacob Hickey and took advantage of 36 chances at the free throw line as the No. 2 Ramblers rolled to a 74- 47 win over No. 7 Old Orchard Beach in the Class C South quarterfinals at the Augusta Civic Center on Monday evening.

Winthrop used a full-court press to set the tone early as the pressure forced several OOB turnovers and helped the Ramblers jump out to a 17-11 lead after one.

“I think they did a great job of speeding us up,” said first-year OOB coach Mike Burke of Winthrop’s press. “Their ability to set the tempo bothered us more than the actual press.”

Unfortunately for the Seagulls, when they would break the press, they were unable to convert on the offensive end.


Old Orchard Beach senior Zach Hirst puts up a shot during Monday’s playoff game against Winthrop. 
PAT MCDONALD/Journal Tribune Old Orchard Beach senior Zach Hirst puts up a shot during Monday’s playoff game against Winthrop. PAT MCDONALD/Journal Tribune “The mantra all week has been, ‘break the press, but don’t turn it over in the front court,’” said Burke, who was disappointed with his team’s inability to finish once they broke the press. “That in itself is kind of maddening, when you do a good job of breaking the press and then you don’t get what you want in the front court.”

Hickey scored 17 of his game-high 33 points in the first half to help the Ramblers take a 38-24 lead into the break.

“We obviously knew he was their stud and we tried some different ways to defend him, but sometimes guys just make shots and you just have to shake his hand and say great job,” said Burke of Hickey.

The Seagulls came out in the second half with some pressure of their own as they used an extended 1-3-1 half-court zone, which helped them open the third quarter on a decent run.

OOB (14-6) got 11 points, including three 3-pointers, from sophomore Ian Regan in the third period as the Seagulls got to within nine points with 1:49 left in the frame.

Burke was proud of his team for fighting until the end.

“The ability for them to compete from whistle to buzzer, that’s the stuff you take your hat off to. It would have been easy to mail this one in at some point and those guys didn’t do that,” said Burke.

Winthrop (16-3) would close the third on a 4-0 run to push its lead to 52-39 heading into the fourth quarter, which would be all Ramblers.

The Ramblers scored 17 of their 22 fourth quarter points from the charity stripe as they went 17-of-25 from the free throw line.

“They were 27-of-36 from the free throw line and we were 6- for-10 … that’s quite a difference,” said Burke, who watched his team get called for 18 fouls in the second half, while Winthrop was whistled just four times. “I don’t know if we’ve ever been in a spot like that. Sometimes the ball bounces your way and sometimes it doesn’t, I guess it didn’t tonight.”

Winthrop would outscore OOB 22-8 in the fourth quarter to secure the win and a spot in the Class C South semifinals.

OOB was led by Regan with 16 points, while Zach Hirst added eight and Sam Custeau finished with seven. Erik Hogan and Evan Christensen chipped in with five points each and Joe Anderson had four points in the loss.

Saying goodbye

With Monday’s loss, the Seagulls have to bid farewell to four seniors – Hogan, Hirst, Custeau and Anderson – who made a huge impact during their careers with the Seagulls.

Perhaps the most important thing the seniors accomplished this season was helping the program stay strong during the transition from longtime coach John Regan to Burke.

“(Those seniors) made a conscious decision to do things right when they were upperclassmen,” said Burke. “They didn’t have to buy in to my spiel and they were willing to, and not only were they willing to, but we ended up with a pretty good season out of it. I just thank them wholeheartedly for their efforts as a collective unit.”

All four seniors provided leadership, but they also played unique roles on the court.

“Erik makes our engine run and the big fellas, Sam and Joe, give us that energy around the basket,” said Burke. “Hirst played great … he shined when he needed to shine.”

The future is bright

The Seagulls will have to fill four big sets of shoes, but Burke believes the program will continue to be contenders.

OOB will return two starters in Christensen, who will be a senior next year, and Regan, who burst onto the varsity scene this season.

“Those underclassmen have been around and have played in big spots,” said Burke, who will also return Thomas Fregeau, Brian Davis and Kyle Allen next season.

“I think, all things considered, we are in pretty good shape. We just have to continue to work and improve,” said Burke.

Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at pmcdonald@journaltribune.com or at 282-1535 ext. 322. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.

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