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.
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.” <