Friday, January 27, 2023

1973 WHS basketball starters keep winning spirit alive 50 years later

By Matt Pascarella

To the five starters who were part of the 1973 Cumberland County Conference, or Triple C, championship the memories live on like it was just yesterday ... although that win was 50 years ago. Co-captain Bill Jones, co-captain Don Forbes, Dave Morton, Lee Allen and Ken Sawyer were recognized and celebrated by the community at Windham High School on Friday Jan. 20. Athletic Director Rich Drummond was presented with the championship jacket of their coach, the late John Turner.

The 1973 Windham High School Triple C championship
basketball team's starters, from left, Ken Sawyer, Lee Allen,
Dave Morton, co-captain Bill Jones and co-captain Don
Forbes celebrate the 50th anniversary of their championship
win during halftime of a WHS varsity basketball game on
Friday, Jan. 20. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA      
The Windham High School 1973 basketball team went 14-4 that season. They made history by winning the Triple C Championship and were dubbed in their yearbook to have achieved the most impressive record since 1966.

What made this team so impressive? Morton said it was the fact that they were a talented group of guys who had been playing together since they were in fifth or sixth grade.

The group first met one another when they played as part of a Saturday morning youth basketball program, not unlike the Saturday morning programs that run today. Once they reached middle and later high school, their playing abilities together became instinctive.

The Cumberland County Conference was composed of 12 teams from Class B and C combined. Windham averaged 70 points a game in a time where the three-pointer was not permitted.

When the Windham High School basketball team played Scarborough on Jan. 30, they clinched the 1973 Triple C Championship with an 89-78 win.

The 1973 Windham High School basketball team finished the regular season with a 14-4 record, a conference championship and were ranked third in the Class B heal standings.

“Everybody knew their roles. We’d been playing together so long ... everybody knew what we were supposed to do,” said Sawyer.

It was a combination of their skill levels and Coach Turner and assistant coach John Gato’s coaching

abilities that drove their successes that season. Turner was very disciplined; he pushed them and had them working hard.

Jones was the team’s leading scorer averaging 16 points a game; Allen was right behind him with 11 points a game; Forbes was the 1973 State of Maine Foul Shot champion; Morton was leading rebounder with over 9 rebounds a game and Sawyer averaged 6 points a game and 5 rebounds.

“For those who play basketball we know that it is more than a game,” said Windham resident Pat Moody. “It has a big influence in our lives and the lessons we learn and people we meet are often carried throughout our lives. It was wonderful to see some of the members of the 1973 team come together with friends and family to reminisce about the Triple C Championship. It also shed light on the fact that it has been 50 years since Windham High School basketball had a championship basketball team. The recognition of the 1973 Champions surely ignited inspiration in those that would like to make it happen again soon!”

It meant a lot to the five starters to be honored by the community and to present the school that they played for the championship jacket of their revered Coach Turner.

For classmate Donna Morton, she remembers the gym being packed for their games and said there was magic between the team. They had a real passion for the game and worked seamlessly, with no one person being the star. They were a talented group who were fun to watch and have remained there for each other all these years later. She said seeing them honored that night made it feel like no time had passed at all.

“One of the things you gain from athletics is relationships with other people,” said Allen. “You look at the five of us, we’re here tonight and those relationships have stayed with us, which is important.” <

WMS girls’ basketball splits games against Lincoln

By Matt Pascarella

On the eve of a snowstorm, the Windham Middle School eighth and seventh-grade girls’ basketball teams played home games against Lincoln on Thursday, Jan. 19 and ended up trading victories.

Windham Middle School eighth grader Kylie Card speeds 
toward the hoop during a girls' basketball game against
Lincoln at Windham on Thursday, Jan. 19.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA   
The eighth-grade team took an early lead and while Lincoln caught up a little in the second half, Windham regained the lead and secured a 42-31 win. Windham’s seventh-grade squad was neck-and-neck with Lincoln in the first half and early in the second half but eventually Lincoln pulled away in the third quarter, defeating Windham, 29-20.

Eighth grade

Windham started out with great defense and held Lincoln to one basket. The Lady Eagles fought for the ball and the scoreboard reflected their success. They had high intensity with several steals.

“I think we did really good at getting up and getting back as a team,” said Windham’s Mackenzie Delewski. “It was a really good team game; our press and transition buckets went really well.”

At the half, Windham led 22-10.

In the second half, Lincoln tied the game at 22. From here, Windham recovered their lead and increased the space between them and their opponent’s score. Windham continued strong offense, stealing the ball every chance they got. Denali Momot sunk a three-pointer.

“I think we battled back really well,” said Windham’s Kylie Card. “We put ourselves together and set up our plays well. We had good defense and were very aggressive throughout the whole thing.”

Windham prevented Lincoln from getting close to a tie for the rest of the game.

Windham eighth-grade coach Katie Franzoni said she thought the girls came out strong from the start and forced turnovers from their press and made baskets in transition. Franzoni was pleased with their improvements as this was something that had been a recent focus during practices.

High scorers for Windham were Delewski and Leandra Woodman.

Seventh Grade

Windham won the tip-off and their quick hands kept possession in the Lady Eagles’ favor early on.

Lincoln snagged a few turnovers and the game remained close in the first half.

Windham tied the game at eight. Windham’s defense blocked several Lincoln scoring opportunities.

Midway through, the game was tied at 12.

“This was probably the toughest team we’ve seen all year” said Windham seventh-grade girls’ basketball coach Chris Aube. “We played particularly well defensively. Lincoln had some really big strong kids that we haven’t seen in a while, and I thought we did a good job ... keeping them to one-shot and done – negated some of the second chance opportunities.”

In the second half, Windham stayed right there with Lincoln. Lincoln pulled away a little, but Windham continued to get rebounds and kept Lincoln from scoring much in the fourth quarter.

“I think it was a little bit rough, but I think it helps because we can see how we can improve,” said Windham’s Sitota Hatch.

Hatch said offense, trying to communicate and staying positive all went well. She said trying to work on their defense a bit better, picking up a player is a way they could improve their game.

Eliana Kostopoulos said communication and passing went well against Lincoln.

High scorers for Windham were Hatch and Kostopoulos. <

So, you want to go ice fishing this winter?

By Stan Pauwels

This article is the first in a series on a topic close to my heart. Ice fishing is deeply interwoven in the fabric of our local culture and has been enjoyed by generations of Mainers. It is a fantastic way to appreciate the great outdoors during our long winters, create lively memories for the kids, and bring home a few fish for the frying pan.

Ice fishing is a great way to spend time outdoors during 
winter, create lively memories for the kids and bring home 
a few fish for the frying pan. COURTESY PHOTO 
With a relatively small investment, ice fishing gets folks outside without the high costs associated with more expensive winter activities, such as snowmobiling or downhill skiing.

Like all sports, ice fishing requires some basic equipment, much of which has not changed much over the last 100 years. I describe below the main pieces of gear needed to practice this activity.

· Boots: Staying warm is fundamental to enjoy ice fishing, and boots are the most critical piece of clothing needed to reach that goal! Ice-fishing footwear must be both insulated and waterproof. It is worth spending extra to obtain high-quality boots that will reliably keep your feet warm and dry. I cannot emphasize enough the need for waterproof boots: a heavy layer of snow will weigh down on the ice, causing water to seep up through cracks and causing several inches of wet slush to form on top of the ice. Cheap boots will leak, resulting in cold feet and the quick end of a trip.
 
· Auger: An auger drills holes through the ice. New gasoline-powered augers cost $400-plus, whereas second-hand ones go for $200 or less. These devices work well but are heavy, noisy, and smoky. Battery-operated augers are more lightweight, silent, and efficient. New ones cost as much - if not more - than gasoline-powered devices. Pay attention to the width of the auger bit. I recommend 8 inches - or even 10 inches - wide to ensure that the largest fish will fit through the hole. Manual ice augers cost between $50 and $100 and require arm juice to turn the bit. Regardless of type, protect the auger blades at all times: dull, chipped, or kinked blades will make life miserable. Manual ice chisels called "spuds" represent the cheapest alternative (under $40) but are only practical when the ice is less than a foot thick. They also require serious muscle power!

· Tip-ups: A tip-up, aka "trap", brings the bait through the ice into the water. It uses a simple trigger mechanism to release a bright orange flag at the end of a thin, spring-loaded rod to alert the angler that a fish has taken the bait. The word "FLAG!!!" is therefore the most exciting sound on the ice! New traps cost from $10 to $40 per unit, depending on model and make. Maine allows up to five tip-ups per angler. I have purchased dozens of traps over the years and have found that taller is always better. My advice is to get "stand-up" traps instead of "lay-down" traps. The lay-downs have a vertical shaft that remains visible even with a heavy blanket of snow on the ice. The latter lay flat on the ice and are difficult to impossible to see with snow. Also, pay attention to spool size. A small spool works fine for shallow-water species, such as brook trout, pickerel, or yellow perch. A larger spool is better when fishing in deep water (for example lake trout or cusk) or targeting pelagic species (for example landlocked Atlantic salmon). I use large-spool traps for all my ice fishing.

· Braided line: New tip-ups usually come without line. A good practice is to fill the spool with braided

ice fishing line. This material comes in many colors, diameters, and prices. I recommend thicker rather than thinner braid because thin braided line easily makes knots that are a pain to undo with frozen fingers… The major advantage of braid over monofilament is that it is inflexible, which is needed when setting a hook by hand with 50-plus feet of line off the spool. However, this material is quite visible to the fish below. Therefore, attach a small barrel swivel at the end of the braided line, followed by 10 feet of 12-pound monofilament line with the hook.

· Ice chip scooper: The scooper is a simple but essential piece of kit that costs less than $20. It scoops out the chunks of ice that fill the hole after drilling, or after chipping the ice that reforms in the holes after deploying the traps. Forget the scooper and you will have to use your hands to remove those chunks. Make sure to get a scooper that has both a ruler stamped into the metal shaft and an ice chipper blade at the end of that shaft. The ruler makes it easy to measure fish, whereas the blade helps chip away at the new ice that reforms in the holes.

· Bait bucket: A bait bucket transports live bait (for example, minnows, smelts, suckers). Bait buckets come in many shapes and forms, from simple plastic buckets to insulated cooler-like contraptions. My preferred model, which costs around $20, is simple, sturdy, and practical. It consists of an inner bucket with a handle, lid, and slits at the bottom, and an outer bucket to hold the water. The water sandwiched in the one-inch space between the inner and outer bucket freezes solid to form an insulating barrier that prevents the water in the inner bucket from freezing over completely. Avoid overpriced bait buckets with battery-operated air pumps. The pumps brake, the batteries quickly run out of juice, and the airlines freeze.

· Bait net: This simple and cheap ($5) but essential tool lets you grab a baitfish without the need to plunge your bare hand into the ice-cold water of the bait bucket!

· Pack basket: The pack basket is an iconic piece of ice-fishing equipment that stores your traps, food, drink, and gear. Most baskets consist of thin woven strips of wood and come with wide shoulder straps. They are surprisingly expensive ($80 to $100-plus). If you decide to purchase one, get a tall and high-quality basket. It will cost a bit more but will last for many years, whereas the cheaper ones will quickly fall apart. A 5-gallon bucket is a low-cost alternative but lacks the shoulder straps.

· Sled: Finally, a plastic sled is needed to bring all the fishing gear, plus other items (e.g., foldable seat, extra clothing, food), out on the ice. Ice-fishing sleds made from sturdy black plastic cost between $40 and $100, depending on model and size. They are designed specifically for the purpose, with high walls and a wide base to prevent tipping. Cheaper "human" plastic sleds will do the trick but are narrower. They easily tip over, thereby spilling the content of your bait bucket…

Getting geared up is only the first step to catching fish through the ice. Stay tuned for follow-up articles in this newspaper on ice-fishing tips and tricks. Meanwhile, visit my fishing blog at www.amazingfishametric.com for more information on angling opportunities in our area. Tight lines and may many big fish bite! <

Friday, January 20, 2023

Windham indoor track and field team soars in late-season meet

By Matt Pascarella

As the end of the indoor track and field season is approaching with the Southern Maine Activities Association (SMAAs) championship and state meets on the horizon, Windham’s indoor track and field teams performed well at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham on Saturday, Jan. 14 against Marshwood, Portland and Westbrook.

The Windham girls finished second with a score of 103. The Windham boys also finished second with a score of 84.

Windham High sophomore Andrew Young gets some
distance in the long jump at the University of
Southern Maine in Gorham during a multi-school
meet on Saturday, Jan. 14.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
Girls


Windham had several first-place finishes. Sophomore Tayla Pelletier finished first in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 9.68 seconds, which qualified her for SMAAs. She placed first in the high jump and set a personal record height of 5-feet. Pelletier finished first in the triple jump with a distance of 33-03.75 feet.

Pelletier said she thought everyone did really well; a lot of people gave it their all. They all pushed each other and gave each other strength.

Junior Khalysa Hammith finished first in the 55-meter dash, senior division with a 7.60 time which tied Windham High School’s record, a goal she set for herself. She also finished first in the long jump with a distance of 15-03.00 and in the triple jump with a 31-0.175 distance. She earned senior MVP of the meet.

Freshman Myla Vercoe finished first in the 55-meter dash, junior division, with a time of 8.25. Vercoe earned junior MVP of the meet.

Sophomore Ava Gerrity finished first in the long jump with a 15-05.00 distance.

Sophomore Sarah John qualified for SMAAs in the shotput when she threw 26-1.50 feet and finished second.

She said the day was great; their team dynamic was amazing.

Freshman Sydney Broadbent finished second in the 400 and qualified for SMAAs with a time of 1:09.13 minutes.

Junior Elizabeth Bearce qualified for SMAAs in the 800 with a 2:40.65 time.

“Our players implemented our team-set-goal to target and work on their meet day confidence and composure skills,” said Windham girls’ indoor track and field coach Jeff Riddle. “Our team is unified,

confident, and won’t quit. It was an amazing regular season meet with quality results.”

Boys

The boys had 16 athletes out of 20 get personal bests for the day.

Freshman Nick Verrill finished first in the high jump with a height of 5-06.00.

Verrill said the whole team did really well. He said Windham did well in the 200s and 55s. He thought the team had a really good day.

Freshman Karl Longstreth finished second in the 55-meter with a 7.17 time and in the 200-meter with a 25.01 time.

Sophomore Andrew Young finished third in the 1-mile run open division with a time of 5:19.52 and first in the long jump with a 16-06.00 distance.

Also in the long jump, freshman Samuel Hutchinson finished fourth with a distance of 13-00.75.

Senior Derrick Stephens placed fourth in the 400 with a 1:00.83 time.

Senior Roman Thomas finished fourth in the 1-mile run open division with a time of 5:40.07.

“Every week the kids are seeing some big improvements,” said Windham boys’ indoor track and field coach Paula Pock. “We hope to carry that through for the next two weeks and get a few more kids qualified for SMAAs. We have a very young team, and they are a cohesive group so they’re fun to work with.” <

Raymond Roadrunners basketball holds own against NYA

By Matt Pascarella

The Jordan-Small Middle School Raymond Roadrunners basketball team played an outstanding game with a lot of energy against North Yarmouth Academy at North Yarmouth Academy on Thursday, Jan. 12.

Raymond seventh grader Sean Lebel goes up for a layup in
a basketball game against North Yarmouth Academy on
Thursday, Jan. 12 at North Yarmouth Academy.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
Raymond kept it neck-and-neck with North Yarmouth Academy matching them shot for shot in the first quarter. North Yarmouth Academy did take a small lead in the second half, but Raymond was determined to not give up without a fight.

Raymond remained aggressive in the second half as they worked to close the gap between the teams. Raymond’s effort was strong, but at the buzzer North Yarmouth Academy got the win 43-35; but Raymond definitely held their own.

“We just need to work on the little things to create better shots,” said Raymond eighth-grader Isabella Vassoler. “I think we did decent. We did really well ... passing the ball around and in the second half we played way better defense and we stayed with [North Yarmouth Academy].

Vassoler said that even if you have to compete against someone taller than you, keep sticking with it and keep your head up. She thought they did much better than she originally expected.

Early in the game, Raymond snagged several turnovers and kept it close as they also grabbed rebounds and moved the ball very well. North Yarmouth Academy tried to get a big lead, but Raymond wasn’t more than a point or two behind.

Raymond seventh-grader Sean Lebel had an incredible game as he put up 20 points over two halves.

“On offense we need to play more as a team,” said Lebel. “Boxing out was a big thing because we let up a lot of second chance points. Our defense wasn’t that bad; I think we did pretty well pressing and getting turnovers.”

Lebel said he learned to not force shots, look for teammates and pass more.

North Yarmouth Academy did have a small lead at the half, 20-15.

In the second half, Raymond remained aggressive and continued to do their best. North Yarmouth

Academy widened the lead, but it still wasn’t out of reach. Raymond took advantage of any mistakes North Yarmouth Academy made, like when they scored on their own basket.

Raymond fought for the ball and was catching up. They continued to get rebounds and sunk several baskets.

Raymond seventh-grader Brooklyn Roy said they played a really good game overall but still need to work on little things like shooting, passing and cutting around the court. She thought communication and getting open for each other went well.

Raymond seventh-grader Niko Powers said passing went well.

“We were definitely outmatched height-wise,” said Jordan- Small Middle School Raymond basketball coach Deb Lebel. “In terms of effort, I just said to them I will take that effort all day long. You don’t give up, you keep playing, you don’t hang your head; that’s what I feel like made it really fun. Raymond kept in the game.”

Coach Lebel said there are still some things they need to work on, but they’ve been working on better passing and boxing out, which really helped them in this game. <

Windham’s Elizabeth Talbot to play college soccer at Franklin Pierce University

By Matt Pascarella

As soon as Windham senior Elizabeth Talbot began playing soccer at the age of 3, she fell in love with the sport. As she got older, it was a dream of hers to play at the collegiate level and her hard work and dedication have paid off because on Friday, Jan. 13, in front of teachers, coaches, friends and teammates, Talbot signed a national letter of intent at Windham High School to compete for Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.

Sylvia Talbot, left, along with Emily Talbot and Joe Talbot as
Windham High senior Elizabeth Talbot signs a Letter of Intent
to play college soccer at Franklin Pierce University in New
Hampshire on Jan. 13 at Windham High School.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
Talbot will play for Franklin Pierce’s womens’ soccer team and major in health sciences where she plans to be a physical therapist.

“It’s fun to coach someone like Liz because she is really a student of the game,” said Windham varsity girls’ assistant soccer coach Jim Stewart. “She is very thoughtful, you can see her thinking about how the game is developing, she’s looking at the way it’s happening, she’s finding a solution ... to the problem on the field. It’s amazing how she can do that without saying anything – she runs to the right spot, she makes the right pass, she starts to solve the problem in her play, and it just breaks the other team down. It’s so cool to watch.”

Stewart said Talbot will bring consistency and hard work and be a great teammate at Franklin Pierce University. She will be someone who will bring something that will show the team in the long run the game can be played at a different level.

“She was a great teammate,” said Windham junior Alejandra Hidell. “She always motivated others and gave good advice; she was always supportive and congratulating everyone. She was just a sweet player overall and I was so lucky to get to play with her.”

It felt great for Talbot to sign her letter of intent. She is really excited for this next step in her life. She’s had a lot of great opportunities with high school and club soccer; her teammates have helped her to get where she is today.

It has taken her a lot of time and sacrifice and putting in the extra work to reach this point in her athletic career.

Windham varsity girls’ soccer head coach Deb Lebel said Talbot was a big part of the reason the team

went 19-0 last year and won a state championship. Franklin Pierce University is exceedingly lucky to be getting her as an athlete, but also as a student.

Talbot is an unselfish player who wanted to see her friends and teammates succeed as well.

She has received a few awards in her time playing for Windham High School. She was named to the Southern Maine Activities Association midfielder team as a junior and senior and also received Windham High School’s “Spirit of the Game” award her senior year from Coach Stewart. This award was given to the player who shows up to practice every day ready to work hard and be a good role model and always does what’s best for the team.

“I feel really great to be recognized by other teams and coaches as well as my high school team,” said Talbot. “Soccer has always just been a really big, important factor in my life, and I don't know what I would do without it.”

To underclassmen who would someday like to get to achieve what Talbot has achieved, her advice is to work hard and keep pushing yourself. If people try to bring you down, stay positive.

Talbot would like to thank her family, Coach Stewart, Coach Lebel, Coach Chris Aube, all her teammates, her Seacoast Soccer Coach Chris Scott and everyone who supported her to help her attain her goal to play collegiate soccer. <

Friday, January 13, 2023

Wolfpack wrestling coach Nicholas earns 200th career win

By Matt Pascarella

Windham/Westbrook/Gray New-Gloucester Wolfpack wrestling coach John Nicholas has been coaching wrestling for 25 years and earned his 200th varsity career win last month when the Wolfpack defeated York, 45-24.

The Windham/Westbrook/Gray New Gloucester Wolfpack
Wrestling team gathers with John Jon Nicholas after he 
earned his 200th career victory following a meet at York
High School on Dec. 13.
PHOTO BY DANIELLE BUCKLEY
Nicholas began coaching at Windham in 2018 and the 200 wins span more than 17 years of Nicholas serving as a head coach.

Now a physical education teacher at Wentworth School in Scarborough, Nicholas wrestled at Westbrook High School under Hall of Fame coach Dennis Walch.

After high school, he followed in Walch’s footsteps and was able to coach alongside him for a couple years. Nicholas then got a job coaching at Portland High School.

“I was taught to work hard, pay attention to detail, and try your best,” said Nicholas. “I have been blessed to have great parents, coaches, and teachers, assistant coaches and tough wrestlers who are willing to learn at all three schools.”

On the day of the York match, Nicholas said that he was more focused on preparing the team to face York, as they are a tough team, but the 200th win was in the back of his head.

Windham senior Scott Ingalls is a Wolfpack team captain and has wrestled under Nicholas for four years. In the huddle before the match, Ingalls said Nicholas told the team that while they are wrestling for themselves on the mat, this was a big one. He said it felt good to get the win.

“His care and devotion to the program sets him apart from other coaches,” said Ingalls. “He’s taught me a lot, this is my second year being a captain, he’s helped me develop my own leadership skills and put forth to the program what I can offer through him teaching me.”

On the day of the 200th win, Nicholas said he felt relieved after the Wolfpack beat York. He describes himself as a humble person and it was good to have the team excited after he reached that milestone.

Being able to coach beside Dennis Walch taught Nicholas a lot about being a successful wrestler and coach, with lessons like time management, preparedness and working hard to accomplish your goals. Walch helped Nicholas become a better person and Nicholas now passes on those habits to his wrestlers.

“I always wanted to coach at my alma mater, and I was able to do that for a long time and now continue to,” said Nicholas. “I wanted to create a positive environment where kids enjoy wrestling and want to work hard to achieve their goals.”

He likes where his career has taken him. His teams have brought success into their system by showing up every day, working hard, learning, improving, wrestling tough and having fun.

Wolfpack assistant varsity coach Nick Buckley has coached next to Nicholas for three years. Buckley said Nicholas is a great mentor, has a lot of knowledge – knows what works and what doesn’t work, is consistent with his message, always wants to win and is always looking for that edge.

“When he came [to Windham] he changed the culture,” said Buckley. “It was almost a recreational team ... but when he came [to Windham] now we’re here to wrestle and get better. Getting better is an expectation and winning is a byproduct of that. He made a tougher practice schedule and held people accountable. When you do that teams get better.”

“It is nice to be acknowledged for 200 wins,” said Nicholas. “I hope what it says about me is that I have continued to produce teams that are tough, have good sportsmanship, and keep improving.

He said that he plans to continue coaching the Wolfpack and producing tough competitive teams that keep striving for a state title. <