Friday, February 18, 2022

Windham varsity boys’ basketball advance with win in playoffs

Windham senior Will Mannette holds on to the ball and then
takes a shot during a preliminary playoff round boys' 
basketball game against Hampden Academy at Windham
High School on Saturday, Feb. 12.
By Matt Pascarella

When Windham took the court against Hampden Academy in the preliminary playoff round at home on Feb. 12, it was a completely different game from the last time these two teams met and Hampden had walked away with a 20-point victory.

Eighth-seeded Windham jumped to an early lead and was aggressive for 32 minutes. Ninth-seeded Hampden Academy began to catch up as the clock ran out, but it was too late for them. The Eagles won 45-40 and advanced to the regional quarterfinals against top-seeded Edward Little on Feb. 16.

“[Hampden Academy] came out and they proved something that first time, they smacked us,” said Windham senior Matthew Fox who had 15 rebounds, four blocks and 17 points. “We weren’t going to let that happen again. Everyone stepped up; everyone was ready for the moment.”

Fox wasted no time as he put Windham in it with a three-pointer. A little while later the game was tied at 12. Windham pulled away and stayed ahead of the Broncos.

Windham’s aggressiveness gave them a 32-21 lead at the half.

“It was a fun experience out there,” said Windham senior Nick Garrison who scored 13 points. “I thought we moved the ball really well, especially ball control toward the end of the game. We had some good baskets toward the end, so I thought it was a good overall effort.”

In the second half, the Eagles showed this was their game. Fox had a block right away to emphasize that point.

Hampden Academy gained on Windham with only five points separating the two teams after three quarters. Hampden Academy underlined the shot clock debate when they stood there dribbling for over a minute as the clock wound down in the fourth quarter.

“We took away their shots ... our defense was great, and our offensive movement was some of the best we’ve seen,” said Fox.

With 16.3 seconds left, Windham led by six. Windham remained ahead as the clock ran out.

“We executed,” said Windham varsity boys basketball coach Chad Pulkkinen. “Kids believed in each other and that’s all we talked about before this game.”

Pulkkinen added effort and rebounding went well during the game. It helped to have the league-leader in rebounding and blocked shots, Matthew Fox, in the paint; it was good to have him back in the lineup and guys fed off that. <

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