Friday, December 8, 2023

WHS competes in girls’ varsity basketball Sebago Lake Showdown Tournament

By Matt Pascarella

Before the start of the regular season on Friday, Dec. 8 when Windham will travel to face Lewiston, the WHS varsity girls’ basketball team played their first preseason game at home in the Sebago Lake Showdown Tournament against South Portland on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Windham sophomore Marley Jarvais attempts a layup during
a preseason girls' basketball game against South Portland
as part of the Sebago Lake Showdown Tournament on
The games were the same number of minutes, just played in two 16-minute halves instead of four quarters. Windham worked hard right up until the final buzzer but fell to South Portland, 39-23.

“Three of our starting varsity players are out; I think we need the extra games as much as we can,” said Windham sophomore Marley Jarvais. “I think having three varsity players out, all of us being more supportive of each other is just going to help us way more as the season goes on especially in our game against Lewiston coming up. Our shooting 100 percent outside went well; we did a lot better in the second half with our passing and not trying to rush things as much. We’ve worked on zone ... I think we did a really good job, but it might need a little improvement with covering the middle. We did pretty good for [the team] being mostly non-varsity starters and no upper classmen.”

Windham began the game moving the ball well and communicated on the floor. Windham sophomore Kendra Eubanks put Windham on the scoreboard with a three-pointer.

Windham grabbed rebounds early, but many shots weren’t falling. South Portland was able to maintain a small lead in the first half. Eubanks sunk another three-pointer that was nothing but net.

Windham was slowly gaining on the Red Riots. Windham sophomore Addison Caiazzo sunk a three-pointer as Windham worked to close the gap before the first buzzer.

“We have to learn to just go at our own pace instead of speeding things up or seeing what the other team is trying to make us do,” said Caiazzo. “Our shooting was pretty good; we were able to hit shots when we needed to; our passes were pretty good and we’re really good at going to the basket. Confidence needs improvement; being able to play at that next level.”

Halfway through the game, South Portland led, 19-12.

Windham’s intensity remained strong in the second half; they were not going down without a fight. The Lady Eagles were not far off the lead and Windham’s effort never dwindled. They took several shots at the basket, but not every shot fell. Windham freshman Denali Momot hit a three-pointer early in the second half.

“I found it helpful [to have this extra time to play] because we’re missing a couple of our starters, so it’s definitely getting our bench some education ... more playing time on varsity and experience,” said Eubanks. “It helps build our stamina. We need to be confident and aggressive and use the ball well. We shot very well, passed the ball very well, looked ... everywhere before we passed the ball.”

According to Eubanks rebounding and pushing the ball and being smarter with the ball could use some work.

“We did some good things as a team,” said Windham varsity girls basketball coach Brody Artes. “We don’t want to be playing our best basketball right now. We want to kind of continue to grow and progress over the course of the season. I thought our second half ball movement and offense was much, much better. A couple kids hit some shots and really started to step up and do some good things for us overall. We got to take care of the ball a little bit better and value the ball a little bit more. We had some turnovers in the first half, we’ve got to limit those ... for sure. Defensively, we have just got to get after it and continue to work hard ... we got to make sure we contest all the shots, but then rebound when there are a lot of rebounds.”

Windham will meet Gorham in a home game on Dec. 19. <

Raymond basketball teams improving with each game

By Matt Pascarella

On Dec. 1, in their second game of the season, Raymond boys’ and girls’ basketball teams had two effort-filled games against Old Orchard Beach at Jordan- Small Middle School in Raymond.

Raymond seventh grader Silvia Roma passes to a teammate
on Friday, Dec. 1 in a girls basketball game against Old
Orchard Beach at Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond.
The Raymond boys worked hard to turn the game around but lost, 47-36. The Raymond girls had quite a nailbiter that came down to the final seconds with Raymond holding onto a small lead. When the buzzer sounded, the girls fell, 30-29.


“I was really proud of the effort,” said Raymond boys’ basketball coach Andrew Wing. “We had a really good practice yesterday and everything we worked on I think we got better at – defense, getting back in transition, not giving up as many layups. The press was much better today, cleaner defense.”

Wing said even though defense was better today, it can still improve and on offense free throws need a little work.

Old Orchard Beach jumped out to an early lead.

Raymond moved the ball and had several shots at basket. Eighth grader Sean Lebel put Raymond on the scoreboard when he had a fast break and took the ball straight to the hoop.

Old Orchard Beach grabbed several rebounds and had a 15-8 lead after one quarter. JSMS would make a strong attempt to turn the game around.

Raymond excelled on defense; and eighth grader Liam Buckley had a nice block.

Lebel had another fast break and JSMS put a bunch of points on the scoreboard. It was 23-13, Old Orchard Beach at the half.

The JSMS defense intensified and soon they were eight points away from tying the game.

“We played a lot better than last game,” said Lebel, who scored 25 points. “We still got beat in transition a little bit, but we were able to clean up a lot of things, we didn’t have as many turnovers on offense. The way we were able to get back on defense and get turnovers [went well]; not forcing turnovers for us.”

Raymond grabbed rebounds and seventh grader Cameron Lawler hit a three-pointer. A short time later, they were within four points of tying the game. Then only two points separated the teams.

Unfortunately, Old Orchard Beach pulled away. Nine points separated the team. Raymond fought until the very end.

“We definitely scored more points than last game said Lawler. “We need to work on defense; we’ve been passing better and putting the ball up more.”


Raymond took the court aggressively. They communicated and although Old Orchard Beach snagged several turnovers and jumped to an early lead. Raymond wasn’t about to let that stand.

Eighth grader Brooklyn Roy put Raymond on the scoreboard. Raymond seventh grader Silvia Roma had a fast break and Raymond led by two after one quarter.

Raymond continued to get rebounds and the game was close. Raymond pulled ahead. They kept Old Orchard Beach virtually scoreless in the second quarter. It was 17-11, Raymond midway through.

The Raymond team wasted no time and scored early in the second half. The game got much closer and only two points separated the teams. Roma had back-to-back baskets as Raymond held onto the lead.

“We worked well as a team,” said Roma, who scored 12 points. “We really pulled together and worked hard and ... we did get a little tired towards the end and some of us were not hustling as much and not calling out who we had, so I think we could work on that.”

Roma was proud of how the team played.

With 33 seconds left one point separated the teams. Raymond worked hard to stay ahead, but Old Orchard Beach was able to edge ahead in the end.

“When we are up, it’s ok to recognize to slow things down, when we’re down then we got to go,” said Raymond girls’ basketball coach Deb Lebel. “They played great defense today, so much better than a week ago, they are improving in their help defense. They are really young, and the more practice they get, the better off we’ll be.” <

Friday, December 1, 2023

Trail Blazers ice hockey off to great start in preseason

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham/Westbrook/Bonny Eagle’s Trail Blazers ice hockey team started the preseason off with a couple of strong games at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham on Friday, Nov. 24, facing Scarborough and Gorham.

Trail Blazers junior Phillip Trainor of Windham keeps his
eyes on the puck during a game against Gorham at the
University of Southern Maine on Friday, Nov. 24.
The Trail Blazers rallied from behind and got within one goal of tying the game with Scarborough but eventually fell, 5-4. The squad then overwhelmed Gorham, 6-3, after a barrage of goals in the third period made it impossible for the Rams to get ahead.

“They hustled, showed grit, and they played well,” said Trail Blazers coach Bobby Fothergill. “There was plenty of puck moving and they had a shooter’s mentality. You shoot more pucks; you score more goals, and the proof is in the pudding. We are really deep. We have really good talented forwards and we got guys who can shoot the puck. I thought their overall game was really good ... I thought the power plays were unbelievable, and we haven’t even practiced it; that needs to be a weapon for us. Every power play we had, we scored on, except one. Shoot the puck more, pucks go in.

Fothergill told the team to go out there, relax, have fun, and make plays – scoring goals is fun and they did it.


The Trail Blazers moved the puck as well as fought for it in the first period. They had several shots at goal. With six minutes left in the period, Bonny Eagle Trail Blazers senior Lucas Laforest scored. After one period, Scarborough led, 3-1.

In the second period Trail Blazers were quick to the puck, continued shots on goal and fought hard to turn this game around. The Trail Blazers’ offense was tough, but so was Scarborough defense. After two periods, Scarborough remained on top, 5-2.

Laforest scored early in the third period. Windham Trail Blazers junior Ben Shaw fired from close range and the Trail Blazers were one goal away from a tie game. Trail Blazers defense kept Scarborough scoreless in the third period but couldn’t get ahead.

“I think we had a rough start,” said Trail Blazers Bonny Eagle sophomore Mason Caron. “We had some good plays and that third period we came out buzzing. We came out quick, moving our feet and passing the puck, we just couldn’t get enough scoring chances, but we played hard all the way to the end. We moved the puck well, got a lot of shots on net, had good “D” zone. [If we] played the body a little bit more and not let Scarborough skate it in all the way, we may have been able to reverse the score.”


The Trail Blazers passed well and tied the game 1-1 after Trail Blazers Bonny Eagle freshman Colby Bailey scored. The Trail Blazers had several shots at goal and never let up. Gorham led 2-1 after one period.

Both teams prevented their opponent from scoring in the second period.

In the third period, the Trail Blazers kicked it up several notches when Bonny Eagle Trail Blazers senior Aiden Toy scored in the first 15 seconds. A very, very short time later Toy scored again, and Trail Blazers had the lead. Windham Trail Blazers senior Tobias Perkins scored.

Windham Trail Blazers junior Phillip Trainor added to their lead when he shot the puck in after it slipped through the goalie’s legs. Windham Trail Blazers freshman Trevor Baillargeon capped off the game when he scored.

“The motivation with being held off the board [contributed to the win],” said Trainor. It was a sluggish first two periods and we got our legs in the third. We started firing and pucks went in the net. We felt like we couldn’t score on them, and we started shooting and pucks went in. We moved the puck pretty well and played physical.” <

Windham grad Beem hopes hard work helps her overcome injuries

By Matt Pascarella

Windham’s Riley Beem is currently a junior playing for the lacrosse team at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire majoring in health science. She plans to apply to the school’s doctorate physical therapy program.

Franklin Pierce University junior and Windham High
School graduate Riley Beem moves around a
defender during a collegiate lacrosse game at
Southern New Hampshire University in 2022.
Beem wants to become a physical therapist and is very interested in working in orthopedics or alongside athletes to help them through injury rehabilitation. When she attended Windham High School, Beem, WHS Class of 2020, was a four-sport star athlete and as a high school sophomore, she competed in the U.S. Lacrosse Women’s National Tournament in Baltimore, Maryland.

“Lacrosse was such a positive experience for me at a young age because I didn’t feel as much pressure to go out on the field and perform to a certain level expected by coaches,” said Beem. “It was a learning experience for everyone involved. The more I was involved in lacrosse, the more the sport grew and evolved, which made me love the sport even more.”

She was fortunate to start on a full team of seniors at Franklin Pierce University. Unfortunately, three games into her freshman year, she dislocated her elbow, which took her out for the entire season. Beem had to learn to adapt and fulfill a role on a team despite not being able to play.

Returning for her sophomore year, she was excited to get back on the lacrosse field. In October 2022, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a fall ball tournament. She was unable to play for her entire sophomore season and needed knee surgery and nine months of intense rehabilitation.

“Riley is a huge asset to our team,” said Sammi Gallant, her teammate and a Franklin Pierce University graduate student. “Her skills are high level, and it is shown in how she competes on the field. Even with her not being able to play the last two years, she has become a leader in this program. Everyone looks up to her and respects everything she has to say. She is always ... available for advice when anyone needs it. Riley is the epitome of a great teammate, and I am so excited to be on the field with her this year.”

Beem said she’s learned in her recovery process for her ACL that you have to take things one day at a time and celebrate the small victories; whether it was a few more degrees bending her knee or learning to run again. It was necessary to celebrate the small accomplishments because recovery takes longer than you want it to.

“Although being injured is something I would never wish on anyone, it taught me so much about myself as a person and a player,” said Beem. “I had to adapt and find ways to make valuable contributions to my team from the sideline.”

It was very important to her to still be able to contribute and have a positive impact on her team. Beem learned that being on the sideline helped to improve her game awareness and IQ. She provided her perspective to her team on what she saw from the sideline, giving advice and feedback about what could be fixed or improved on.

“I fortunately have been able to watch Riley play since her freshman year on campus,” said Franklin Pierce University interim head women’s lacrosse coach Caroline Lounsbury. “Her work ethic and competitiveness are both something that shows consistently every day she is on the field, and that energy is contagious to her teammates. Even while going through the recovery process for both injuries each year, she selflessly has shown up for her teammates from the sideline. She has been able to see the game from a different perspective ... this has tremendously helped not only her game, but her teammates as well.”

For Beem, being part of athletics at Windham taught her that nothing is handed to you. A strong work ethic and coachability allowed her to succeed on the field and in the classroom. She said something she learned from playing on different Windham teams was if you want something you’re going to have to work for it; that might mean putting in more outside time and energy than others.

Her advice to high school athletes who want to play collegiately is to believe in yourself and your capabilities. Start looking at schools and reaching out to coaches early because it’s better to have more options.

When not on the field, Beem’s spare time goes toward homework as her grades are very important to her. She also likes to relax with her friends, run, play basketball or pickleball. She also attends a lot of Franklin Pierce University sporting events. <

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Windham High’s 1966 basketball champions brought love for game to community

By Matt Pascarella

The 1966 Windham basketball team were a talented group of players who ended the season with a great record (14-3 overall) and won the Cumberland County Conference, or Triple-C championship, against Bonny Eagle 60-47 at Bonny Eagle High School. But they were more than that. This was a group of young men who really loved the game, and played it any opportunity they had, regardless of weather or temperature. And that spirit and those feelings of pride still remain today for those who were there to experience the excitement of that season.

The 1966 Windham High School boys' basketball team
became Cumberland County Conference champions by
beating Bonny Eagle, 60-47. at Bonny Eagle High School.
The players loved the game and helped younger players
succeed on the court. COURTESY PHOTO  
“It was a time and a team to remember,” said former 1966 Windham basketball captain and now Standish resident Jim O’Brien. “It was just a great team ... Something the town had never seen, once we got beyond six or eight wins, word started to get out this team might be good.”

On Friday nights the Windham gymnasium was packed with supporters waiting to see their Windham basketball team take the court. The bleachers were filled; people were standing in the lobby, against the wall and on the stage in anticipation of the start of the game. There was a pep squad, a live band, and cheerleaders who would get the crowd going. Everyone was there to show their support.

Basketball kept the town alive in the winter. You couldn’t get a seat unless you showed up early. It was a community event and the entire community showed up to support their team.

In 1964, when Windham opened the then-new high school, a new basketball coach came with it, Bryce Beattie. He had coached at Freeport and won three or four state championships in the previous five years. Beattie was a disciplined coach and different from what Windham players had ever experienced.

The team was talented, but Coach Beattie had a lot to do with their success; he was the driving force. There was no messing around; it was Beattie’s way, or you weren’t playing.

“That ’66 team was the best team that ever came out of Windham in my mind,” said Raymond resident Don Forbes and member of the 1973 Windham basketball team, who also won the Triple C championship. “They had great height, they had great ball handling abilities, they had shooting, they were 10 men deep on that basketball team. They had competition from the first day, right to the end of the season and everybody wanted to play.”

According to O’Brien, in 1966 WHS seniors Alvin Dennison, Allan Libby, Don McGlinchey, and O’Brien would score in double figures on any given night and averaged 72 to 75 points a game; and that was before the three-point shot was adopted. O’Brien and Dennison were MVPs of that 1966 team.

“I don’t think anyone really cared who scored the most, we all wanted to win,” said O’Brien.

Beattie started the Saturday morning basketball program in 1966 where older players would help train the younger players. After all the excitement of Friday night, the entire Windham basketball team would show up in the gym on Saturday morning and teach skills of the game to fifth graders who would later become Windham’s 1973 Triple C champions. This program still exists today.

“We would never have played basketball if it weren’t for Bryce Beattie and the Saturday morning basketball program that they started,” said Forbes. “He turned this basketball program into something that was just a marvelous thing. I want to thank that ’66 team and let them know how important they were to us. We were very fortunate to have the people to support us. I want to thank everyone from Coach Beattie all the way up, it’s just incredible. I can’t tell you how special it really was.”

O’Brien met his wife, Sandy, at Windham High School. They later married and have been together for more than 50 years.

“It was very gratifying to know that he was my boyfriend, at the time,” said Sandy O’Brien. “You looked forward to the ball game; you get this high that you just can’t explain. We cheered the whole team – [Jim] was the best; we would get the crowd going. It was a great bunch of people. I remain friends with quite a few of them.”

The games were so popular that they had organized travel buses to take fans and cheerleaders to away games and those seats filled quickly. They needed three buses to transport supporters to away games. There was a lot of spirit, from everyone, not just classmates and cheerleaders, behind this Windham team.

“You never forget it,” said Jim O’Brien. “I have really good memories of it. We definitely had an enjoyable senior year, and it was definitely because of the basketball. It was an amazing team. There was a lot of spirit and a lot of talent; [we] still got the spirit.” <

WMS soccer coach dispenses life lessons while emphasizing teamwork

By Matt Pascarella

One of the things Windham Middle School girls’ soccer coach Aaron Talon loves about sports is being able to compete.

He grew up playing sports and majored in physical education at Saint Joseph’s College. He began coaching in 1999 and has been a physical education teacher at Windham Middle School for the past nine years but has been teaching physical education for 24 years altogether.

WMS physical education teacher and
eighth grade girls' soccer coach Aaron
Talon just finished his second season 
as a soccer coach and inspires his
athletes to work together as a team to
achieve desired results.
Talon has previously coached varsity baseball and golf at Gray New Gloucester High School, varsity baseball at Windham High School, and girls’ soccer and boys’ outdoor track at Windham Middle School.

“At the middle school level, we want the athletes to learn how to work as a team,” said Talon, who just wrapped up his second year of coaching eighth grade girls’ soccer at WMS. “This includes respecting each other and listening to everyone’s thoughts and ideas and building trust between all of us.”

At Saint Joseph’s College, he played baseball and says that he always enjoyed sports and wanted to pursue a career involving athletics.

Talon taught physical education at Gray New Gloucester High School for 15 years. While there he coached varsity baseball for 10 years and varsity golf for five years.

While coaching at Gray New Gloucester High School, he made some strong connections to players and coaches at Windham High School. At that time, they shared coaching responsibilities with American Legion Baseball during the summer. He wanted to take a break from head coaching to spend time with his family, and being an assistant coach for the Windham High School’s baseball team was an opportunity to continue coaching.

While coaching at Windham High, a teaching position opened up at Windham Middle School. Talon thought it was a good time to make a change in his professional career.

Both his daughters played soccer for Windham Middle School and at Windham High School. He saw this as an opportunity to get involved with the program.

“He allows us to do what we need to do on and off the field,” said Windham Middle School girls’ soccer eighth grader Shea Carey. “He supports us in our academics and ... has us doing exercises that help us get better endurance. I learned how to really trust my team and I learned many different defensive skills and how to work with the girls on my team and become basically a family.”

His WMS girls’ soccer team had a very impressive season this year. They had a lot of returning players who played on the seventh-grade team. The eighth-grade team finished its season undefeated. Having so many experienced players helped this group achieve such an impressive accomplishment.

“The success belongs 100 percent to the student athletes,” said Talon. “They are the ones who show up each day, put the time in and work hard.”

His favorite thing about being a coach is taking a group of athletes with different levels of experience, beliefs and backgrounds and watching them work together to achieve a common goal.

“He makes sure we’re always having fun,” said WMS girls’ soccer eighth grader Jennifer Schwarz. “He’s really nice and a really good coach, always super supportive, and he makes good drills for us. I learned to really talk to my team.”

Talon enjoys playing golf and watching his daughters play basketball at the University of Maine and Saint Joseph’s College. <

Friday, November 17, 2023

WHS Varsity Esports wraps up regular season with win over Connecticut

By Matt Pascarella

Windham High School added an Esports team to its fall group of varsity teams in 2021. Esports is short for electronic sports and is a form of competitive video gaming. In the final game of the regular season, Windham played Weston High School of Connecticut and defeated them 2-0 on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Windham varsity Esports senior Lynn Roberts watches
teammate Justin Chavez, a junior, as he plays 'League of
Legends' during an Esports match on Tuesday, Nov. 14
at Windham High School.
Competing in the Northeast Region, Windham is ranked fourth overall and has qualified for the postseason playoffs which will begin Dec. 6.

Windham’s Esports team plays a multiplayer game called “League of Legends,” where two teams on either side of a playing field clash in the middle and battle it out with the goal being to destroy the opposing team’s base. Matches are best two out of three games. There is also a physical aspect where the team spends time in the weight room.

“I’ve always liked video games,” said Windham senior Aidan Poitras. “I feel like it’s important [to have Esports at Windham] because most are introverted ... and it’s really nice to get out and do this, especially with gamer friends. I think it’s healthy.”

Esports teaches strategy, teamwork, communication, and problem solving. Windham’s team communicated extremely well through both matches and that is one of the key factors that helped them earn both wins. They also practice together like other varsity teams.

“Those that may not want to play a physical sport, [Esports] allows them the opportunity to still get some hand-eye coordination and it’s important to offer different types of sports,” said Windham varsity Esports coach Michelle Lane. “It’s also a collegiate sport and they can take it to the next level. They are talking continuously, asking for help, or letting each other know where they’re at or what objective they’re going after and who needs to be there.”

Since Windham had a couple losses earlier in the season, they readjusted the roles of some of the players and they seem to have found the perfect fit as “League of Legends” has many facets with many characters to learn.

In the first match, Windham picked the stronger characters which overpowered their opponent. Windham had good team dynamics and communication is very important when it comes to wins and losses in Esports.

Windham senior Alex Pooler said Esports is underrepresented. He said that there are a lot of people who can’t play sports but can play Esports. Esports helps to offer clearer communication. It’s really dependent upon teamwork because in most cases you can’t win alone.

The team has gotten much better as the season has progressed. This year was more game-focused and thinking about how the game will play out before the game starts. Everyone needs to be on board with the ideas and strategies planned before beginning a match.

“Both matches were very late-game focused,” said Pooler. “The farther we got into the game, the stronger both teams got. Both matches we were talking a lot. Before the match started, we had a good idea of what we were planning; we picked our characters well so we could win.” <