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.” <

Tales from the Outdoors: Tick…Tock….

 By Bob Chapin

No…not the Chinese social media site…that is Tic Tok. This is the time that is escaping you if you haven’t begun your personal checklist of things to get done off your honey- do list so you can get to the things you really want to do to get ready for the coming deer season. The drawing date for the Any Deer permit has already passed and if you were not fortunate to get selected you may still be able to purchase a permit that is left over after all hunters wanting a permit for that particular Wildlife Management Area are satisfied. The window to purchase an additional any-deer permit in select WMA’s opened Nov. 6 at 9 a.m.

Pheasant hunting season in Maine runs through Dec. 30 and
adult hunters have a daily bag limit of two, either sex.
By now you should have checked in with the landowners who have given you permission to hunt their land in the past to see if you are still welcome there this year. Land uses change frequently, and it is your responsibility to confirm that you still have access. Owners die, sell all or parts of their property, subdivide or get zoning changes they ask for or get imposed upon them, neighbors have schools built where they used to farm and conservation easements could affect whether you can hunt there or not…. always check. Good farmland and woodlots are disappearing at a rapid rate. Don’t be surprised should a land use change such that it precludes you hunting your favorite spot.

If you were thinking about a food plot you are already too late. Too bad because with all the rain we have been experiencing, the fields are lush with vegetation. There may be a late-season variety that you could still get a crop out of but you are better off now investing in attractants versus trying to grow something. Use your scouting time to locate an abandoned homestead with an apple or fruit tree orchard. The deer know where they are and will eventually hit them, but it tends to be later in the season.

If you haven’t tried pheasant hunting in Maine, you are missing a real treat and a bargain. The state stocks approximately 21 sites throughout Cumberland and York counties and they are identified on the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife web site. The stocking schedule started Sept. 28, skipped a week then resumed for the next two weekends in October. The state, with the assistance of several Rod and Gun Clubs, places between 25 to 35 birds at each location each stocking evenly split between cocks and hens, and both are fair game. The season for adult hunters started Oct. 1 and closes Dec. 30 with a daily bag limit of two, either sex.

Pheasants are an excellent bird to start new hunters. They are a relatively easy target to hit, even with 20 gauge or .410 shotguns, but when they hold tight until you are right on top of them, their loud raucous cackling and wing beats can startle even the most experienced hunter and make their escape good without a shot being fired. Should that happen to you, watch where they fly and glide to as you may get a second chance. One caution though if you are using a young dog, a big ole cock pheasant can startle a dog as well. Also be careful about discharging a shotgun too close to a young dog unless you have acclimated the dog to the discharge by starting the dog a ways away from the gun and gradually reduce the distance to get him or her used to the sound.

Unfortunately, every year an over-eager hunter who has not done his field homework can ruin a good dog for the rest of the dog’s life. I witnessed such an occasion at a dove hunt in Virginia one year. The thoughtless hunter berated his dog for not fetching downed birds, but he somehow missed the fact his dog was cowering under his chair at the report of his owner’s shotgun…a terrible thing to do to a dog.

As hunters age they are less inclined to climb into tree stands, especially the climbing variety that takes a bit of athleticism to jack themselves up a tree. The advantage they give the hunter is amazing as they shield a lot of their movements on stand from vigilant deer eyes and their scent from acute noses. I did not get into a tree stand until quite late in my hunting career once I began archery hunting. I could not believe the difference it made in the number of deer I was seeing and how close they would come to where I was. In just one morning’s sit I had 19 deer in sight and 11 of those were within bow range. Unfortunately, every year hunters are injured or killed in falls from tree stands, usually homemade ones. Always use a safety harness from the moment you leave the ground. It can save your life. And it is always a good idea to tell a reliable adult where you are going and when you expect to return. Better to suffer the embarrassment of having to get cut down out of your harness than the alternative.

The older I get the more I like ladder stands and ground blinds. The ladder stands, correctly installed can be very stable both for your comfort and as a shooting platform. Be sure and pre-flight carefully any stands that you have left out since last season for rotted tie down straps, support poles that may have slipped, and debris that may have accumulated on the foot platform and seat. Climb up and sit in the stand as you would when hunting to see if you need to trim any vegetation that may be blocking your view and shooting lanes. As I return to my truck from a stand location, I clear my path of any downed limbs and install reflector tacks so I can find the stand in the dark. I put some ground blinds out yesterday and was amazed at how much the undergrowth has grown up. Don’t you be surprised on the morning you had hoped to hunt… good hunting! <

Field hockey coach aims for players to develop life skills outside of sports

By Matt Pascarella

Like many coaches, Windham Middle School field hockey coach and seventh-grade English and Language Arts teacher Emily Grudzien began playing sports at a young age, but it wasn’t until she tried field hockey that she felt she really succeeded in a sport. It was a way for her to grow her confidence in middle and high school and feel like she was part of something outside her social circle.

WMS field hockey coach and
seventh-grade English and 
Language Arts teacher Emily
Grudzien has just finished 
coaching field hockey where
here team went undefeated. She 
says coaching is a way for her
to connect with students outside
of the classroom.
Grudzien just finished her first season as a middle school field hockey coach and the team finished the season undefeated with an impressive record of 6-0-1.

She stopped playing field hockey in college and began working in outdoor education, where she focused on whitewater canoeing instructing. Working with young people to develop technical skills while creating a community and sense of belonging has transferred well into her position as a field hockey coach.

“Coaching is a great way for me to connect with students outside of the classroom, much in the way I would with students on backcountry trips,” said Grudzien.

Originally from New Hampshire, Grudzien graduated from Saint Lawrence University where she studied English and environmental studies. When she worked in outdoor education, she would lead trips in cross country skills, backpacking and downhill skiing. Her mom was a teacher, and she considers it to be her dream job.

What drew Grudzien to coaching field hockey was it had always been a catalyst for her to break out of her shell in middle school. She could redefine herself apart from stressful social dynamics during the school day. She wanted to provide that same opportunity for her team, many of whom she has currently or has had previously as students.

“She would help the team out if anything happened or there was a situation where the team needed [it],” said Windham seventh grader and field hockey player Hayley Johnsen. “I learned how to take a hard drive and be responsible [and] I learned how to have good positioning in games.”

Johnsen had fun this season and plans to play again next year.

The Windham Middle School field hockey team had a great turnout this season with a variety of player abilities that were able to learn and grow from watching each other. Grudzien gives credit to Windham High School field hockey coach Cory DiDonato and others who have invested in players year-round at the youth level.

“At the middle school level, we are often teaching more about life lessons than field hockey skills,” said Grudzien. “Concepts like preparedness, teamwork, compromise, leadership and timeliness are all lessons we tried to impress on our players this season.”

The squad impressed her and Windham Middle School assistant field hockey coach Alexandra Belaire with their energy and excitement around their winning streak and also with their supporting of members of their team.

“Being her assistant coach was so much fun,” said Belaire. “Emily brings enthusiasm around the sport of field hockey and brings the 'why.' She constantly was managing players who were at a lower level all the while running corner plays. She is such an asset to WMS athletics because she has experience and is young. The players learned how to have fun and love the sport.”

Grudzien’s goal for her first season was to develop fundamental skills for beginning players, introduce more advanced players to higher-level skills and create a sense of belonging and unity among players. Regardless of skill level, how players feel when they come to practice or play in a game has a big impact on whether they return in the future; she wants everyone to return next season.

“I love being in an environment where I can focus on building relationships with students [and] players,” said Grudzien. “This is the part I miss most from working in outdoor education—bonding with a group of kids around a common cause.”

After graduating from college, Grudzien worked for two years at the Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset, where she led backcountry trips for kids of all ages. She now lives in Raymond in a log cabin and loves to hike and paddle when not coaching. <

Friday, November 10, 2023

Windham boys’ soccer battles through to second penalty-kick round against Portland

By Matt Pascarella

In an impressive defensive battle, top-ranked Windham went toe-to-toe with fourth-ranked Portland in the boys’ varsity soccer semifinal round at Windham High School on Thursday, Nov. 2. In the end, it came down to a second round of penalty kicks where Portland outscored Windham and left the field with a 1-0 victory. Windham ended the season with a record of 14-1-1.

Windham junior Luke Cunniffe looks to get by a Portland
defender at Windham High on Thursday, Nov. 2 in a
boys' varsity soccer semifinal playoff match.
“The players recognize how much is on the line and the stakes of it all,” said Windham varsity boys’ soccer coach Jeff Neal. “At this level, a coach doesn't need to tell the players to dig deep. This group, from well before the season started, wanted to make a deep playoff run. They really care about one another and playing the best soccer possible. That's all the motivation needed when the game gets long. This is an awesome group of young men, and the future is bright.”

When Coach Neal looks back on the season, a lot stands out. Going undefeated in the regular season; defense and goalkeeper notching eight shutout victories, the program beating rivals Gorham and Scarborough, the embracing of players for community events like Red Card Cancer initiative and connecting with Middle School teams and Windham Youth Soccer players. This was a special group on and off the pitch; they all wanted to keep working.

Windham moved the ball well in the beginning of the semifinal match. This was a physical game. The entire team was aggressive and fought to be first to the ball. The Eagle defense prevented several scoring opportunities for Portland. Windham had many runs at Portland’s goal in an attempt to score, but Portland’s defense was strong.

Windham junior Luke Cunniffe had a shot at goal toward the end of the first half.

“The tension was high because we knew Portland was one of the top teams in the state,” said Cunniffe. “We knew we were going to focus on Portland’s midfield and Garrett [Crossman] and Dan [Hancock] did a good job of slowing them down. The game was electric.”

In the second half, Windham worked to get closer to Portland’s goal.

Windham Junior Lukas Hammond recorded save after save in an incredible display of skill and agility. He had nine saves off 11 Portland shots including two saves in the first round of penalty kicks.

“The pressure was definitely there,” said Hammond. “I felt like the whole town had my back, but my defense, my whole team, they were right there with me. Our defense the whole game we kept it even. We were really close; we never got down or mad at each other, we always tried to work through it together. You always face adversity in a season, it’s just a matter of when.”

Windham senior Nick Marion rocketed the ball at the Portland goal late in regulation.

Marion broke the school record for single-season scoring with an amazing 34 goals.

“Credit can go to my teammates and coaches for motivating me and putting me in spots to execute,” said Marion. “Like Coach Neal has always said, the game can make your day and break your heart. This game was just one of those heartbreakers. We fought until the end, and I couldn’t be prouder of my teammates in how much they wanted to win this one. Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way no matter how hard you fight.”

The semifinal game remained scoreless at the end of regulation play.

In the first and second rounds of overtime, every Windham player pushed through any pain and kept fighting. No one let up for even a second.

Windham junior Sam Rogers and Cunniffe scored early in penalty kicks to give Windham the 2-0 advantage.

“We went into the game with zero losses and weren’t super scared to play any team,” said Rogers. “We went into that game like we were going to win it but weren’t expecting the players Portland had because we hadn’t played them this season. We played well getting the ball out quick and finding our forwards as soon as possible. We’re proud that we got that far against a tough team.”

According to senior Connor LeClerc, there wasn't a single person on the team who quit. They stepped on that field, everyone was playing for more than just themselves and that is all he can ask of teammates. The team was closer than any team he’s ever been on. Every day they pushed each other to get better. <

Windham girls fall in varsity soccer semifinals

By Matt Pascarella

The third-ranked Windham traveled to meet second-ranked Gorham on Thursday, Nov. 2 for a repeat varsity girls’ soccer semifinal match similar to the one these two teams played a year ago with one exception, the Lady Eagles made it a lot harder for Gorham this time. Windham forced two sudden-death overtimes and after regulation play ended, it was tied at 1-1. Once it went to penalty kicks, Gorham eked out a 2-1 win.

Windham junior Stella Jarvais looks to see which of her
teammates is open during a girls' varsity soccer semifinal
playoff game against Gorham.
“This year we had a young team with only two seniors,” said Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach Deb Lebel. “This meant younger players had to step up and play a much bigger role this season. I think because we didn't depend so much on one player everyone contributed in a variety of ways. We can compete with a very talented team even though we are young. We also never gave up; all players played their hearts out ... through both overtimes.”

As time was running out in the first half, Windham junior Kyla Harvie shot the ball from the outer 18-yard line to score. Windham was up 1-0 at halftime.

“We’ve had a tough rivalry with Gorham for a while and we really wanted this win, so we went deep down,” said Harvie. “If we work together and try our hardest, anything can happen – we just have to do our best. It was a long, long game, we just kept fighting through everything. We did a good job defending, passing around Gorham and getting opportunities on the attacking field.”

Gorham responded and scored in the second half which tied the game 1-1. As the clock ran out, the game went into its first overtime. For perspective, in 2022, Gorham won 1-0 in the semifinal after regulation, and now Windham fought hard to get the win.

“Being that it was sudden death, it puts a lot of pressure on everybody,” said Windham senior and goalie Alejandra Hidell, who had 10 saves overall. “It’s extra nerve-wracking for me because I don’t want to get scored on. [My mindset was] if any ball came at me, I’d try my best to save it and do everything I can.”

Windham pressured, passed the ball well, defense kept Gorham at bay and Windham had several shots near goal. At the buzzer Windham held Gorham to another overtime.

When it came down to penalty kicks, junior Stella Jarvais scored. Unfortunately, the other kicks were saved.

“Our team is big in chemistry,” said Jarvais. “We grew as a team throughout the whole season, and I haven’t been on a team that has had that much chemistry. Everyone wanted to win, and we used our power to push us to the next level.”

According to Lebel, Windham really supported each other, cheered for one another no matter what role they played. This was one of the hardest working groups she’s had.

“I think we came out, wanting to win, wanting to get revenge, it didn’t happen, but we tried our hardest – it was very nerve-racking,” said Windham sophomore Marley Jarvais. “Our passing was really good, our pressure from the forwards was really good too. Our team bond and how focused we were during practice really, really helped.” <

Friday, November 3, 2023

Windham football falls in regular-season finale to Bonny Eagle

By Matt Pascarella

In the final game of the regular varsity football season, Windham varsity football put forth a strong effort for four quarters, but fell to Bonny Eagle, 35-21 in Standish on Tuesday, Oct. 31.

Windham senior Marcus Tillery heads in the end zone at 
Bonny Eagle High School in Standish during the final 
regular season varsity football game against the Scots on
“I feel like we definitely took some steps improving from last week,” said Windham senior Marcus Tillery, who scored two touchdowns and had 223 rushing yards in the game. “Definitely played a great team with a great running game, it was a challenge for us to get used to that. We definitely ran the ball well, O-line was very physical, came off the ball on both sides, pass game was there and I ... just love the energy tonight; these guys are like freight trains – they don’t stop, if you get in their way, they’ll move you. We need to get a good game plan for Oxford Hills [in the playoffs]. We need to be able to execute better on offense and execute better on defense.”

Bonny Eagle won the coin toss but deferred and kicked off. It was first and 10 Windham from their 31-yard line. Tillery got the ball to the Scots’ 19-yard line. A pass thrown to Windham senior Tobias Perkins was complete and it was third down and three. After a false start, senior Briggs Valliere caught a touchdown pass. The extra point was good, and Windham led, 7-0, in the first quarter.

Bonny Eagle quickly answered, but their attempt at a two-point conversion is blocked and they trailed by a point, 7-6.

Late in the first quarter, Tillery ran the ball in for a touchdown, and the Eagles led, 14-6, after one quarter.

In the second quarter, Bonny Eagle, scored and their two-point conversion was good, resulting in a 14-14 tie.

Windham was unable to score in the second quarter and the half ended with Bonny Eagle scoring two more times to go ahead, 28-14.

“I thought we really executed well offensively,” said Windham varsity football coach Matt Perkins. “We had some really big runs, and everyone on offense took a major step forward. Marcus had a great night, but there were some great blocks. We went nose-to-nose with a team that had a chance to beat Oxford Hills in the last minutes, had a chance to beat Thornton Academy – and we’re obviously taking major strides. We hurt ourselves, special teams tonight, we had three major mistakes, and you just can’t do those things against good teams. Defensively, we’ve got to keep continuing to get better at stopping the inside run. It’s been a chink in our armor all year. We’ve done numerous things to fix it and we’ve just got to continue to battle at that.”

In the second half, it was first and 10 Windham from their 34-yard line, then it was second and six. Tillery got the wheels going and scored another touchdown. The extra point was good, cutting Bonny Eagle’s advantage to 28-21, after three quarters.

Bonny Eagle scored one more time before the clock ran out to secure the win.

“Our offense [went well tonight], our blocking was a lot better than it’s been; we definitely stepped up,” said Valliere, who had 17 receiving yards. “Getting those big stops on defense definitely contributed to our line getting better, just making plays. We definitely need to work on defense, making tackles, and on offense we just got to make big plays. We’re going to playoffs 0-0, whole new season.”

Windham will travel to Oxford Hills for the Class A Northern Division playoff on Monday, Nov. 6; kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. <

WHS varsity basketball tunes up for upcoming season

By Matt Pascarella

Last month, the Windham varsity basketball team opened its fall basketball schedule in preparation for the upcoming season and on Sunday, Oct. 29 at XL Sports World in Saco, the squad took on Falmouth and Edward Little. Windham fell, 73-48, to Falmouth but turned it around in a much closer game against Edward Little. While Windham had the lead for most of the game, Edward Little pulled away in the end to win, 51-45.

Windham senior Matt Searway drives past defenders at XL
Sports World in Saco during a fall basketball game against
Edward Little on Sunday, Oct. 29.
“This is a great group,” said WHS coach Cam Brown. “I’m a new voice in the program, so I’m really thankful that they listen and get everything. Some things we did really well were getting out in transition [during the Edward Little game]; we got to limit second chance points, turnovers and fast break points. A huge thing for them is communication. Overall, I think the kids did great.”


Windham was tied with Falmouth early in the first half, but after a short time, Falmouth pulled away. Windham kept it somewhat close by getting rebounds and staying aggressive. Falmouth led by six points at halftime.

Windham kept up the intensity and worked to bridge the gap between teams in the second half. Falmouth got several turnovers that worked against the Eagles. Windham did not give up, though shots weren’t falling. They made a last-ditch effort in the final minutes of the game, but Falmouth was too far ahead.

“At the beginning we came out strong,” said Windham senior Quinton Lindsay. “We were running, playing defense, talking, switching, getting rebounds, doing everything. In the second half we kind of just lost focus – Falmouth was getting rebounds, hitting transitions, getting shots and we just couldn’t match it. To improve we can work on defense, get our stamina back up and just be ready to hit shots when you’re open. We had a lot of open shots [that were missed].”

Edward Little

This was a different game. Windham tied it up very early on in the first half. Their intensity gave them a small lead, though Edward Little wasn’t trailing by much. Windham offense continued to sink shots and its defense blocked Edward Little’s scoring opportunities. Windham got several turnovers and maintained a lead. Windham led 33-26 midway through the game.

In the second half, Windham’s shots weren’t falling early on which gave Edward Little the chance to catch up. Windham junior Creighty Dickson hit a three-pointer. Windham got rebounds and continued defense. As the clock wound down, Edward Little gained a one-point lead. Then the game was tied at 42. Edward Little led by a couple of points and slowly began to pull away. Despite a strong effort, Windham was unable to recover.

“Our energy was up,” said Windham sophomore AJ Moody. “Our defense in transition was going really good at the start and ... it was going well until they got a one-point lead, and we kind of shut down and kept digging ourselves in a deeper hole. I think getting back on transition defense would help [us improve], not digging ourselves in a deeper hole, but stepping out of that hole and keep rising up.”

Dickson said the team played aggressive and that they pushed the pace a lot. They knocked down some clutch shots at the end, but their tempo wasn’t very good – technical fouls did not help, and their lead decreased. They can improve on transition defense, offensive rebounding and limiting their turnovers.

Both Brown and Windham coach Pat Moody said that the benefits of a fall basketball league are getting in with the same group of guys and building team chemistry as they prepare for the winter season. <