Friday, February 24, 2017

Windham Eagle Unified Basketball Team continues to improve by Stephen Signor

As a general rule, a team success is often measured by its victories - either that or the total number of points it scores. Don’t tell that to the Eagles Unified Basketball Team. In their third game, played on February 10 against the very strong Blue Blazes of Westbrook, they scored a season high of 48 points, despite losing. Fast forward to their most recent game, when the Eagles faced off against the Oxford Hills Vikings: While they did not score as many points as their previous game, nor did they win in a final score of 46-34, their defense did demonstrate increasing signs of improvement.

Vikings show good defense
In typical fashion, the first half had lead changes several times during which the Eagles displayed a new found ability to steal the ball away from its opponent. This, despite the postponed game and consequent practices, Co-coach Brittany Taylor and Co-coach Anne Blake’s team was eager to go. “We had practice cancelled on Wednesday because of the storm but the kids came in on Friday and were excited and ready to play,” shared Taylor.

Intentionally paying no particular attention to the score at the half, which incidentally happened to be in favor of the Vikings, Taylor instructed team members to use their 10 minute break to practice dribbling, taking free throw shots and driving to the hoop. The Vikings were doing the same.

The second half was just as intense with both teams having little or no difficulty in putting up score after score. With the minutes remaining being rapidly erased from the time clock, it would come down to consecutive, unanswered scoring drives by the Vikings. The only, but deciding, difference in the game was that the Vikings would end up having two high scorers with Branden Skinner and Brandon Robare, each with 12 points.

The Eagles’ Brianna Webber would match that with her own 12 points but it would not be enough. Efforts by Ben Silva with 8, James Tuckers 4; and 2 points each by Kyle Herzig and Cameron Malone, did however bring them closer. In the end, the score was 46-34 - but you would never know it. The kids from both sides, as they always do following the game, met near half court and reveled in their efforts.

The unified basketball referee, who wished to be referred to as just George, expressed his thoughts on his first experience. “This is the first game of this type I’ve done, so it’s new to me. I usually do high (school) and middle school games here within RSU14. I had fun doing this. I enjoyed watching the kids have a good time in a game like situation. I would do it again. It was fun.”  

 Although the season is just half way through, there are already signs of recognizing the most improved players. “Most improved player? That would be everyone,” exclaimed Taylor. But to cite examples, “Ben Silva had improved on defense and Ryan Sargent gained more patience on the court.”
Co-coach Blake concurred, but also added Cameron Malone for most improved; but not for his play, “Just because he was so timid and shy in the beginning. He wouldn’t shoot, he wouldn’t even go in.” 

The next four games should prove to be as exciting, if not more so, than the first four. Their next game is February 28 at home, against the Poland Knights, whom they faced in their inaugural game earlier this year.

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