Friday, March 1, 2024

WHS boys’ basketball wins regional title, plays Saturday for state championship

By Matt Pascarella

Call them the AA North champions and with just one more win this Saturday, the Windham High School boys’ basketball team will earn the 2023-2024 Maine state title.

Windham High players and coaches show off their regional
championship plaque after defeating Portland High. WHS
now advances to the Maine Class AA championship game
this Saturday and will face Gorham for the state title.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA     
WHS beat Lewiston 57-44 in the regional semifinal on Thursday, Feb. 22 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, and then captured its first AA North regional championship ever by sending Portland packing 43-34 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Saturday, Feb. 24. The last time Windham played in a regional championship game was 2018 and this team has now won 18 games, the most in school history.

Windham (18-2) will face off against the AA South Regional Champions Gorham High School (18-3) at 8:45 p.m. Saturday, March 2 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland with the state championship on the line.

“Our guys stick together no matter what,” said WHS head coach Chad Pulkkinen. “As long as they do that, good things will happen. I’m proud of their fight, they fight every single day. We’ve had guys out of the lineup the last couple weeks and ... guys stepping up on the bench. Our adjustments at halftime, being a little more patient on the offensive end, making sure we’re getting reversals, making sure we’re attacking closeouts. I was proud of the guys for being a little bit more patient and then starting to believe and when you start to believe good things happen. I’m excited to have another week with this special group and that means a lot to me; we’re going to bring all we’ve got to that game.”

According to Pulkkinen, this win in the regional finals was for the school’s alumni. He said he’s proud that his guys were able to get it done and those alumni paved the way for his team to make it to this point. Pulkkinen said he has never seen a team as close this one, and it’s been incredible to be around. They inspire and make him better. He directs the ship, and the team drives.

During the regional semifinals, WHS sophomore Tyrie James had 16 points, senior Blake McPherson had 15 points and junior Creighty Dickson scored 9 points and hauled in 19 rebounds.

“Everyone contributed,” said James after the semifinal. “We didn’t settle for anything, we just kept working and I think that really got us through. “We had an eight-point lead going into the fourth quarter and we didn’t just want to settle and stop, we wanted to keep playing our game. We moved the ball well, our defense was good, help side – all around we played a pretty good game.”

The regional final was a low scoring game for both teams and neither team had 10 points after the first quarter. Windham was aggressive and kept it close in the first half, even though shots weren’t falling. Portland had a 20-13 lead at halftime.

Portland continued to build a lead at the start of the second half, but it wouldn’t last. Windham’s defense held the Bulldogs to seven points in the third quarter and like in the regional semifinal, Windham turned it up a notch in the fourth quarter after senior Quinton Lindsay scored and just one point separated the teams.

Windham defense wasn’t backing down and a block and bucket by McPherson kept the game tight as the clock wound down.

“It feels great,” said McPherson who scored 16 points and was awarded Most Valuable Player Award for the regionals. “We worked for this, and it feels amazing to be in this situation. Third quarter Portland came out and hit us good, but we just needed to talk it through and in the fourth quarter we executed, and it turned out in our favor. We had good ball movement, we took decent shots, we had a lot of uncontested open shots.”

With 1:45 left in play, Windham was up by 6 and a block by Dickson ensured that Portland wasn’t going to make up much ground.

With just 11 seconds left, Windham led by 8 and eventually won by 9 points.

“Portland had a big lead on us,” said senior and captain Erik Bowen. “We stayed together through the whole thing, and we just chipped away. We fought one stop at a time, one bucket at a time, came back and won the game. We tried to stay positive and trusted in ourselves and in each other that we were going to come out here, finish the game and win. We played great defense; everybody dug deep, our offense wasn’t going for us in the first half, and we came out in the second half and really executed our offense. We play for each other every single day. It feels nice to bring the first regional final championship back to Windham. We’re going to prepare as hard as we can and bring home that first gold ball.”

During the regular season, James averaged 11.4 points per game, McPherson averaged 10.8, Junior AJ Moody 10.5, and Dickson 10.4 for the Eagles.

Blake McPherson, Creighty Dickson and Tyrie James all were named to the AA North All-Tournament team. Criteria for making AA North All-Tournament team is based upon statistics. McPherson, Dickson and James were the three top scorers for WHS during the season and so far McPherson has scored 32 points in the tournament, and Dickson 17, with huge rebound games including 19 rebounds in the semifinals. James scored 28 points in the semifinal and regional final combined.

“They have been instrumental in our success and have done a great job making great decisions on the floor,” said coach Chad Pulkkinen. “All three possess different skill sets and that was on display at the tournament.”

Also noteworthy are AA North Award winners, voted on by the coaches and those include:

Blake McPherson - AA North First Team

Quinton Lindsay - AA North First Team

Creighty Dickson - AA North Second Team

AJ Moody - AA North Honorable Mention

Tyrie James - AA North All Rookie Team

Erik Bowen - AA North Defensive Player of the Year

Bowen is an All-Academic McDonald’s All Star; one of 12 selected by the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches and McDonald’s All-Star Voting in the entire state. He also received the Gary Randall Award which goes to one player voted on by 17 Southern Maine Activities Association schools. The award is given to the player that possesses the most character and sportsmanship in the league. <

Windham siblings earn triple championship wins during tournaments

By Matt Pascarella

For Windham siblings Creighty, Cooper and Kelenese Dickson, Saturday, Feb 24 and Sunday, Feb. 25 were big days. WHS Junior Creighty Dickson helped his team secure Windham basketball’s first-ever regional title when they beat Portland 43-34 at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Saturday, Feb. 24. Sixth grader Cooper Dickson helped his team beat Falmouth Force 54-52 in the Maine Hoops Town Team Championships at the Augusta Civic Center on Sunday, Feb. 25. Also in that tournament, fifth grader Kelenese Dickson and her team defeated Oxford Hills, 31-28.

(L to R) Windham junior Creighty Dickson, Windham fifth
grader Kelenese Dickson and Windham sixth grader Cooper
Dickson all celebrated championship wins last weekend 
after their teams won titles. Kelenese started playing
basketball after watching her brothers compete for Windham
teams and now has won another championship for her
family. PHOTOS BY MATT PASCARELLA
and KATIE DICKSON   
“It was so exciting to be at the Cross Insurance Arena,” said Creighty Dickson. “I was excited and nervous as it's been a dream of mine. I love my team, it’s my second family.”

Cooper Dickson’s team had never beaten their rival Falmouth and he said going into the game that he really wanted to. He loves playing with his team; they’ve been playing together for many years, and they keep getting better.

“I was really pumped to play Oxford Hills,” said Kelenese Dickson. “We beat them two times this weekend and before this weekend we had never been able to win against them. I had so much fun with my teammates.”

All three of them began playing basketball at a young age. Creighty Dickson began playing at age 5 with youth teams, Cooper Dickson started at age 4 with Windham Youth Basketball and trained with his big brother. Kelenese started at age 6 after she saw her brothers playing and wanted to join them. They all play Amateur Athletic Union as well as travel basketball and spend a lot of time competing.

“It took us not getting in our heads, not giving up and playing our hardest until the end of the game to win,” said Cooper Dickson. “The win felt good because it was the first time beating them. I was really excited; we move onto Rhode Island this month for a regional tournament.”

According to Kelenese Dickson, it took them to push through and work as a team to win the tournament. She said it felt good for her team to be in first place. She also will play in a regional tournament in Rhode Island this month.

Creighty Dickson was injured in the second half of the regional final game but only stayed out momentarily. He wanted to get back on the court and win.

“He’s a tough kid; he’s a true basketball player,” said Windham varsity coach Chad Pulkkinen. “He lives and breathes it; his energy is contagious with our group. He wasn’t going to just step off the floor, if he can still crawl, he’s getting on that court. He’s a great kid who tries his best for his brothers.”

They’ve all stuck with the game because of their love for it. Kelenese Dickson says she loves basketball because it’s full of enjoyment. She likes being aggressive and always wants to be better than her brothers.

“What makes her an exceptional player is her ability to score at will,” said Windham fifth grade girls’ basketball coach Chris Sargent. “She has great defense and understanding of the game and game situations. She has always been the happiest girl on and off the floor. A born leader, great all-around player.”

Creighty Dickson loves the sport and has set goals for himself and wants to accomplish them.

“I love to compete, and I have so much fun,” said Cooper Dickson. “I did drills with my dad and brother and that’s always inspired me.”

According to Windham sixth grade basketball coach Steven DePaolo II, Cooper Dickson is a team asset when he plays team basketball and keeps his head in the game, and everyone plays for each other. It is how the team has been so successful.

“I feel like their time and commitment is paying off as they practice daily and really work hard to be better,” said mom Katie Dickson. “Creighty is consistent, unselfish and good at everything he does ... he paves the way for the rest of them. Cooper is super competitive, and you see that when he is playing. He plays with big emotions and a big heart but really hates losing which makes him determined. Kelenese is so strong and energetic; as the baby of the family, she often can get drowned out in the noise in our home. She has learned to develop a very loud and passionate presence to make sure everyone knows she is with us.”

For dad Craig Dickson, it’s fun to watch them develop and to love the game like he does. It’s great for him to see their extra effort paying off. They play basketball year-round; it’s a daily part of their lives. They are good students. The best part for their father is their hard work on and off the court. <

Friday, February 23, 2024

WHS savors resurgence in varsity basketball this season

By Matt Pascarella

WHS Varsity Boys

Windham High School’s varsity boys’ basketball closed the regular season with a record of 16-2 and are the top-ranked team in AA North. They face off against fourth-ranked Lewiston Thursday, Feb. 22 at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

The WHS boys’ team is coached by Chad Pulkkinen and is assisted by George McCrillis, junior varsity coach Geoff Grigsby and first team coach Noah Estey.

The varsity team includes freshmen Colin Janvrin and Allegra Kawaya; sophomores Adrian “AJ” Moody and Tyrie James; juniors Joseph Blige, Conor Janvrin, Grant Coppi, Braycen Freese and Creighty Dickson and seniors Blake McPherson, Quinton Lindsay, Erik Bowen, Ryan Smyth, Noah Mains, Beni Ninziza, Matthew Searway, and Paolo Ventura.

“We’re feeling amazing,” said Moody. “Our strengths right now are how tight we are, not getting down so much on each other; some things we need to work on are our help side defense and once we figure that out, we’re locking in and fighting for our spot to get our names on that [championship] banner. All of us are so excited.”

Windham is progressing and guys are ready to go. Pulkkinen said he likes that his team was playing its best basketball by the end of the season. He still doesn’t think they’re there, which means there’s still room for growth. The players have done film study and self-reflection as a team on where they can improve. Their goal is always to be better the next day, at the next practice.

Pulkkinen said the team understands the playoffs are not going to be an easy road; it’s win or go home.

WHS strengths are court connection, ability to understand one another, players know what value they bring to their team, effort has always been top notch.

The team’s weaknesses are little defensive things and improving some of those small details, but being healthy allows for improvement.

The bye week as the top playoff seed gave Windham a chance to get healthy and focus on improvement in time for their first semifinal game.

“Feeling good, confident, said Lindsay. “Ball movement, unselfish [are strengths]; some weaknesses defensively help side and talking are the two major things.”

WHS Varsity Girls

The girls were ranked sixth in AA North and finished the year with a record of 7-12. They fell to third-ranked Bangor in the quarterfinals at Bangor High on Friday, Feb. 16, 35-27.

The girls’ team is coached by Brody Artes, JV coach Gretchen Anderson and Gary Fifield.

The WHS girls’ varsity team includes freshmen Denali Momot, Isabella Vassoler, and Mackenzie Delewski; sophomores Neve Ledbetter, Viktoria Richardson, Addison Caiazzo, Kendra Eubanks, Marley Jarvais, Brianna Duarte and Chloe Delewski; junior Stella Jarvais and senior Mallory Muse.

“The Windham girls' basketball team has had a good season considering a number of obstacles that have stood in our way including injuries and sickness at inopportune times,” said Artes. “What stands out regardless of these obstacles is the hard work and character that the girls have brought [to] each game and practice throughout our season. They are a great group of student-athletes both on and off the court and I am proud of the efforts of this very young team during this season.”

Entering the playoffs, Artes said Windham looked to defend at a high level like they had all year, using its athleticism to neutralize teams. They played really good basketball for the last four weeks of the season and their defense was the driving force behind their late-season surge. Offensively, Artes said they needed a few players to step up and contribute and to make shots.

“We came into the game with nothing to lose. We worked our hardest out there,” said Duarte. “We could have [taken] a few more shots, we worked hard on driving to the hoop more than we usually do.”

Muse thought this was the best defensive game all year. Their momentum on defense led to their success on offense. Communication was great and everyone kept composure and Windham stayed with Bangor all game.

“I think we could have been more aggressive, offensively,” said Marley Jarvais. “Bangor is a very good team and has always been a good competitor so either way it would’ve been a good game in the end.”

She said it was the WHS players’ relationships with each other were positive and that in past years it’s been more separated. The coaches made a big difference too. Jarvais said the team may have not had a record they wanted but they gave each other positive encouragement and motivation to go and work the next practice to get better. <

Swimming team excels in Class A State Swimming and Diving Championships

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham High School’s boys’ and girls’ swim team competed in back-to-back Class A State Swimming and Diving Championships at Bowdoin College in Brunswick against schools from all over the state with the boys’ meet held on Monday, Feb. 19 and the girls’ meet on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Windham junior Lukas Hammond competes
during the Class A Swimming and Diving
State Championships on Monday, Feb. 19
at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.
PHOTO BY
SU-ANNE STIMPSON HANMOND
“The kids swam really well,” said Windham swim coach Peter Small. “Even in some cases where we didn’t see fast times, we saw a lot of personal best times across the board and that’s what you want. The big takeaway for me is even in those races where we didn’t, we saw technical improvement. The beauty of a sport like swimming is we can actually quantify improvement from day one to the end. We were turning over really quickly ... we were riding high in the water; we were grabbing the water better than we ever have; all those things we kind of put an emphasis on we saw come today. I love the way this group bonds, they’re a group that works hard together ... they’ve jelled all year and I love that.”

Boys

Windham finished in 13th place.

Junior Lukas Hammond finished 26th in the 50-yard freestyle with a 26.58 second time.

“To qualify for states was exciting,” said Hammond. “It meant one more race for us to swim. We swam great, the focus was to just go have fun and show everyone what we’d been practicing for weeks. During the 200-free relay we placed two places higher than expected from our preliminary rankings which was amazing.”

The team of senior Joey Somma, junior David Daignault, sophomore Wyatt Washburn and Hammond placed 13th in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:53.48.

In the 400 freestyle relay Somma, freshman Sawyer Stone, Washburn and Hammond finished 11th with a time of 4:34.86 minutes.

Girls


Windham finished 16th with a score of 44.

Junior Sarah Inman came in fifth in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:51.83. She also finished ninth in the 200 freestyle with a 2:12.86 time.

“This is my third year [qualifying for states],” said Inman. “To me it doesn’t matter about qualifying, it just matters how much hard work I put in.”

Inman is satisfied overall with how she did.

“I did what coach Small and Simonson wanted,” said Inman. “They wanted me to start off fast and get faster – see the competition, beat the competition and that’s what I did.”

Junior Morgan Farley finished 13th in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:12.30 and 14th in the 50 freestyle with a time of 28.31.

In the 100 freestyle, senior Grace Theriault finished 18th with a 1:04.30 time.

Sophomore Martina Jefferson finished 18th in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:14.47.

The relay team of senior Riley Small, Jefferson, senior Mackenzie Gaudette and junior Diletta Galloni finished 18th in the 200 relay with a 2:17.04 time.

“I think it went really well,” said Riley Small. “We came together as a team for our last meet, and we all have worked so hard, we all deserved to be here. Our sportsmanship was good, we had a number of new best times and I think everyone’s mindset has improved throughout the season. We all had confidence in ourselves, and it showed in the pool.” <

Friday, February 16, 2024

Windham Unified basketball earns win over South Portland through teamwork

By Matt Pascarella

In just their second home game of the season Windham’s Unified basketball team of Colby Schmid, Jack Shirley, Dani Iaconeta, Jacob Smith, Zachary O’Brion, Davic Ntibandetse and Mary Jean stayed ahead of the Red Riots late in the game on Friday, Feb. 9 to pull out a 58-51 victory, which they achieved through passing and a combined effort with every member of the team scoring at least once.

Windham sophomore Zachary O'Brion gets some air as he
drives for a layup during a Unified basketball game against
South Portland at home on Friday, Feb. 9.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA
“We were very aggressive,” said Windham unified basketball head coach Anne Blake. “They kept their energy up and they really worked hard on getting those rebounds – that’s what we’ve been trying to teach them in practice, and they finally put it together. The other thing we’ve been working hard on in practice is stopping, aiming, then shooting. They put it all together today. Passing the ball [still needs work] especially on breakaways.”

Windham grabbed rebounds right from the start of the game. Schmid and O’Brion then both hit three-pointers. The game was quickly tied, but Windham’s passing allowed them to get out in front of South Portland.

Soon, Windham began to build a decent lead over the Red Riots. The crowd went wild, and the gym roared with excitement every time one of the Unified players scored.

The Eagles’ defense was spot on with a block that prevented a scoring opportunity for a South Portland opponent.

Despite Windham’s big lead, South Portland held firm and was not far behind. Windham led 36-28 at the half. Halftime featured a dance break, which many got into.

“It went really good,” said Windham senior Dani Iaconeta. “We hustled out there and tried to get the ball. I can’t believe we won [the] ... game – that was my birthday wish. We tried to get open and my teammates did really good; we did awesome. We need to try to get more rebounds.”

The game had tightened up in the second half and eventually a mere four points separated the two teams.

The game was tied, 48-48, but Windham players snagged some rebounds and pulled away just enough, while its defense held off South Portland. Shirley tossed in a sweet buzzer beater to increase the lead in the final seconds.

“I thought it was fun and my best friend [Shirley] was in the game with me,” said Windham senior Jacob Smith. “What went well was that we played better as a team this game than we have in the other games; we passed a lot more. Listening to what our coaches tell us [needs work].” <

Windham’s indoor track and field teams perform well in regional competition

By Matt Pascarella

Windham’s indoor track and field boys’ and girls’ teams turned in stellar showings while competing at the regional competition against schools from all over Southern Maine on Saturday, Feb. 10 at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. Windham’s girls finished second with a score of 121 while the Windham boys’ team finished eighth with a score of 69.

Windham sophomore Nick Verrill clears 5-10.00 feet in the
high jump during the indoor track and field regional
competition at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham
on Saturday, Feb. 10. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA
Girls

“The opportunity at the ... Indoor track and field Championships validated the detailed work that the Lady Eagles team had put in all season,” said Windham girls’ coach Jeff Riddle. “What the team needed to do to contend for a top team finish was for each relay team to surprise the field and make the podium, no matter if they were entered into slower heats or the fast ones; and each relay team did just that and more. These relay results were well beyond what we forecasted so are the perfect example of how the ladies have fully elevated their mindset and our program. All five relay teams were able to [make the] podium. Beyond that, each player's individual contributions in their events led us to our second-place overall result, a first time for our program.”

Sophomore and state qualifier Nealie Morey came in second in the 55-meter hurdles with a finals time of 9.50 seconds. Originally, Morey hadn’t qualified for this event, but was able to get in.

“When you have a certain amount of people that can go in the event and they don’t fill it, they [take] people who were close,” said Morey. “I just went in there and was trying to go as fast as I could. It feels good to support my team in ways that I didn’t think I was going to and contribute those points.”

Morey finished first in the triple jump with a 32-02.25 foot distance.

Also in the triple jump was sophomore Myla Vercoe, another state qualifier, finished fifth with a distance of 31-02.25.

In the 55-meter dash senior and state qualifier, Khalysa Hammith finished second in the finals with a time of 7.55. She also finished second in the long jump with a 15-07.00 distance.

Junior Ava Gerrity finished first in the long jump with a distance of 16-02.75 and was second in the triple jump with a 34-02.75 distance.

Senior Beth Bearce finished fourth in the 600 with a 1:36.08 time.

Both Bearce and Gerrity are state qualifiers.

Sophomore Addison Shanholtz got a personal record in the pole vault with a height of 7-00.00 feet.

“I was thinking I want to try and do my best, but no matter what I did,” said Shanholtz. “I was working my hardest to have fun and enjoy it while I can. I’ve worked really hard ... jumping [with] a different pole was helpful.”

According to Shanholtz, everyone has worked hard to benefit the team.

Boys

In the 55-dash, sophomore and state qualifier Karl Longstreth finished second with a time of 6.75, a new school record. He also finished second in the 200 with a 23.92 time.

In the 55-hurdles, sophomore Mason Arbour finished fourth with a time of 8.48. He finished first in the triple jump with a 39-11.00 distance and qualified for the state competition.

“I like being around this team,” said Arbour. “Overall, our team did really good, and everything just clicked. I think everybody is looking good for states.”

In the high jump, sophomore and state qualifier Nick Verrill finished first with a height of 5-10.00.

“I think the warmups were pretty good,” said Verrill. “We’ve been training really hard ... for this and states. I think the whole team is doing pretty good. We just have to keep the form and practice.”

Senior Marcus Tillery finished sixth in both the 55-dash with a time of 6.71 and the 200-dash with a time of 23.89, along with qualifying for the state competition.

In the 55-hurdles, junior and state qualifier Carter Engelman finished eighth with an 8.36 time. He came in third in pole vault with a height of 12-00.00.

Senior Jinqi Li finished eighth in the pole vault with a height of 9-06.00.

In the 1-mile open run, junior Andrew Young finished with a time of 5:01.49 in 12th place.

“I'm really proud of these boys,” said Windham boys’ coach Paula Pock. “They all work exceptionally well together and are constantly focused on improving. Overall, the boys had a great day with almost every athlete meeting their seed or getting a personal best. Next week, the team will be competing in states, and we hope to continue setting personal bests through pushing each other to improve.” <

Friday, February 9, 2024

Windham varsity basketball squads post victories against Edward Little

By Matt Pascarella

Tuesday, Feb. 6 was Senior Night for Windham’s varsity boys’ and girls’ basketball teams and it turned out to be a night to remember for players and fans. The girls fought hard and won 34-27, while the boys also battled in a tight game and held off Edward Little, 60-56.

Windham seniors Noah Mains (top left, Matt Searway,
Blake McPherson, Quinton Lindsay, Beni Ninziza
(middle left), Mallory Muse, Erik Bowen and Ryan
Smyth (bottom middle) gather before their final 
home varsity basketball games against Edward Little
on Tuesday, Feb. 6. PHOTO BY SIERRA SPARROW
Seniors Blake McPherson, Quinton Lindsay, Eric Bowen, Beni Ninziza, Matthew Searway, Noah Mains, Ryan Smyth, Paolo Ventura and Mallory Muse were each presented with a small gift as a thank you for their dedication to Windham Athletics throughout high school.

Bowen and Muse received the Windham Youth Basketball Little Eyes Upon You Awards presented by Maine Optometry. This honor goes to a senior that demonstrates commitment to the youth in their community. Both Bowen and Muse said it felt really good to know they are looked up to and are making a difference.

Boys

“We knew it was going to be tough tonight,” said varsity boys’ basketball coach Chad Pulkkinen. “Our mindset was to recognize the seniors and make it about them tonight, play our absolute tails off and not worry about their record, just worry about playing our best basketball. Some things we need to improve on are just simple things defensively, some things that can help make those possessions a little harder for the other team. We talked about it a little bit and what they’ve been able to create as a group; and what they’ve been able to build for community involvement ... hats off to our guys to be able to battle night-in and night-out.”

The boys made Windham High School history when they earned their 15th win of the season over Oxford Hills on Friday, Feb. 2. They are undefeated at home with Tuesday’s game being their 16th victory of this season.

Edward Little jumped to an early lead, but Windham defense kept their score low and Windham offense hit some three-pointers in the first quarter. Soon the game was tied at 21. Edward Little pulled away 31-27 at the half.

Searway hit three three-pointers in the second half and the game remained close. Windham eventually pulled out in front to put some distance between the teams.

“The whole team works hard and works together as a team,” said Searway. “Every night we have a person that steps up. I was lucky enough to have open shots and I was lucky enough to hit them tonight. The community that is here for us is amazing and we can feel that energy. We want to cherish every moment; we went out and executed. We moved the ball well, defensively, we ... ran the floor pretty well, got a lot of transition points ... the way we can control the pace of the game is how we can win some of these; tonight was definitely electric.

According to Quinton Lindsay, Windham players knew this game was going to be a dog fight and they wanted to get everyone in the game because they are a family. Mentally Windham had to lock in on defense, get their shooters rattled and rebound. They need to talk more on defense.

Four points separated the teams with 1:18 left but Windham persevered to earn the “W.”

Girls

Windham defense kept Edward Little to a small number of points in the first half, but Windham struggled to have their shots fall. Edward Little led 11-7 midway through the game.

“I thought we played really good defense in the half court,” said Windham varsity girls’ basketball coach Brody Artes. “Holding a team to 11 points in a half is great; just a matter of us getting going a little quicker on offense ... missed some free-throws in the first half. We were a little slow to get going. I think we let their pressure get to us a little bit. At halftime we adjusted and ... came out with more of an assertion to score. I think it was a good second half for us; I think there were some nerves there for sure; we got over it.”

In the second half, more Windham shots fell. They rebounded and soon had the lead. Their defense kept Edward Little to five points in the third quarter.

Windham really turned up the heat in the fourth quarter and pulled away from the Eddies significantly. Muse hit a three-pointer before the final buzzer.

“Our defense was pretty solid,” said Muse. Throughout the game we picked up off each other’s energy. We had really good looks at the basket. I think we just need to play our hardest; whenever ... we play our hardest, we play our best.” <

Windham Youth Basketball competes in back-to-back-to-back Southern Maine Hoops Championship games

By Matt Pascarella

Windham Youth Basketball Association had three teams compete in championship games at the Maine Basketball Academy in Portland on Saturday, Feb. 3 during the Southern Maine Hoops League Championships. It is quite an achievement to reach this level and all the teams worked incredibly hard during the season and in these championship games. Windham’s sixth grade girls lost, 29-8, to Scarborough; while Windham’s fifth grade boys won, 37-18, against Mount Ararat to claim the title; and Windham’s fifth grade girls fell to Oxford Hills, 30-16.

Windham's Fifth Grade boys' team won the Southern Maine
Hoops League championship by beating Mount Ararat on
Saturday, Feb. 3 at Maine Basketball Academy in Portland.
Front (L-R) are Bentley Rubino, Liam Wood, Preston 
McLean, Max Inzerillo, Lucien Kri, Joel Delewski,
Tate Ammons, Henri Sirois, and Ethan Bonnvie. Back
(L-R) Coach Chris Inzerillo, Coach Joe McLean and Coach
Ben Delewski. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
Sixth grade girls


The girls started out with good defense and kept Scarborough’s baskets to a minimum. Scarborough grabbed turnovers which helped them pull away.

Windham was quick to get rebounds and Eliya Krainis had a breakaway layup. Elsa Pearson sunk two consecutive foul shots. At the half, Scarborough led 14-6.

In the second half, Windham got several turnovers and took shots at basket. Their hustle showed they were going to battle until the final buzzer. They kept up defense, but fouled Scarborough a bit.

The score only tells half of the story.

“We went 12-0 up until today; we’ve qualified for the Rhode Island tournament,” said assistant coach Dana Magee. “Keeping up with [Scarborough’s] aggressive defense [went well]. I think playing more [high caliber] teams [could have helped us flip the score].”

Windham will also play in the Waterville tournament toward the end of the month.

“It felt awesome [to make it this far],” said Krainis. “Our defense went well; we definitely locked them down ... we still need to work on rebounds and offense. I think we played great, and I love this team.”

Fifth grade boys

After winning the tip-off, it was Joel Delewski who scored. He later sunk a three-pointer.

Windham had solid defense, nabbed rebounds and got several turnovers. Windham gave it all for the entire game. They led 20-2 midway through.

Windham’s defense limited Mount Ararat’s shots, though Mount Ararat slowly increased their score. The Eagle’s moved the ball well and kept a strong pace.

“It feels good because we had to work hard throughout the season,” said Delewski. “We really ... built up our team very well. We started off good and defense went well ... that led us to the win. Hard work, effort and practicing [got us to this point].”

According to coach Joey McLean it took the boys showing up ready to practice week-in and week-out. The title game defense was the best they’ve played all season. Its “Help” defense limited points in the first half, boxing out, doubling down when needed, it was a thing of beauty and well executed by Windham. They’ve really improved over the season; and went undefeated in the league.

Fifth grade girls

Possession was gained by Windham early on; they fought hard for the ball, and it showed. They had multiple shots at the basket.

“Hustling and passing is what helped get [us] to this point,” said Ella Higgins. She said collaborating went well; they needed better defense to flip the score.

Higgins put Windham on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, Oxford Hills got a few turnovers and pulled away.

Windham had momentum and passed well, got rebounds and added to their score. Lily Nickel sunk a foul shot; Higgins scored again.

Oxford Hills led 14-9 partway through.

Windham was not about to give up and this was a closer game than when it started. However, Windham shots weren’t falling. Kelenese Dickson sunk a foul shot.

“These teams have improved since the beginning of the year and they’re just going to get stronger,” said head coach Chris Sargent. “It was a tough loss and we’re just going to keep battling – we’re not done yet, the sky’s the limit. We came up a little short, there’s still room for improvement and ... we’ve got to stay focused. Help side defense, getting better quality shots and rebounds.” <

Friday, February 2, 2024

Varsity cheerleading squad earns big boost at multi-school competition

By Matt Pascarella

After an impressive fourth-place finish in their previous competition, Windham’s varsity cheerleaders took on Bonny Eagle, Gorham, Sanford, Thornton Academy, Noble, Scarborough, Massabesic, Deering, Marshwood, South Portland, Biddeford and Portland at Noble in North Berwick on Saturday, Jan. 27 and placed fourth out of 13 teams at the Southern Maine Activities Association cheerleading competition with a score of 63.9 – almost a full 10 points higher than the previous week.

Windham varsity cheerleaders Lily Woodcock, a freshman,
left, and junior Ella Roberts take a high vantage point during
the Southern Maine Activities Association cheering
competition on Saturday, Jan. 27 at Noble High School.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA
“I think this week’s performance was a huge improvement from last week,” said Windham varsity cheerleading coach Amber Direnzo. “Last week's score was 54.2 and we also got fourth out of 11 teams. We did a lot of work cleaning up the routine and using our feedback from our first competition to make adjustments for this week. I don’t think I had a full expectation coming into today, but they did so great last week that I was hoping they’d improve upon last week and I think that they did. They hit their first stunts more solidly. And also, the express-up didn’t hit last week and it hit today. They did so great, I’m so proud of them. The opening stunt ... the toss, all their formations, all looked really good.”

Direnzo said their tumbling wasn’t as synced up as last week, but that’ll come with more practice because she knows the team can do it.

“Our stunts and technique definitely went up and I’m looking forward to seeing that reflect in our scores,” said Windham junior Ellieana Archibald. “We’re here to prove that we’re better than last year and improving from our last competition. Having our fans there and our parents really helped; the energy was just crazy today. I think just a few of our stunts need to be fine-tuned; we need to get them in shape and that’s it. I’m so proud of my team, I feel like we blew each other’s expectations out of the water, so it’s just a great feeling. [Our goal was to] keep improving ... and I think we met that goal today.”

The crowd was electric, and the gym roared every time a new school took to the mat. Schools cheered for each other, and the environment was very supportive of all the teams.

“My goal was to have the most energy and I think we accomplished that,” said Windham junior Ella Roberts. “All of the stunts hit, and we were all very happy at the end; and I think we accomplished almost everything on our goal list. Before you go on, it can be really nerve wracking; I was really worried about the express-up, and we hit it and that just made the whole routine work better, because we were all so happy. Tumblers proved themselves and they did so well; we knew we did good. Things that need a bit of work are we need some more tumbling; we could have tighter stunts and tighter motions.”

Windham’s performance was full of stunts, which is when they go up in the air. One of the more advanced stunts they did was an express up which is when they start on one leg and switch legs as they ascend. The performance also featured flips, jumps, a pyramid, and a lot of enthusiastic cheering. The team was very hyped, and everyone had a lot of spirit.

“There was a lot of good energy,” said Windham senior Monica Lewis. “Our team has come super far since last season and we’re a lot stronger and everyone did their jobs. Our goal was to place higher than we did last week and [have] a stronger routine and try and fix the things that we could work on. Our stunts all hit, which was an improvement from last week and everyone’s energy. We did an amazing job and I’m proud of everyone for how far they’ve come.” <

Windham Middle School boys’ basketball teams split against Biddeford

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham Middle School boys’ seventh and eighth grade boys’ basketball teams took on Biddeford at home on Monday, Jan. 29 in one of the final games of the season. Windham’s eighth grade team had the lead going into the half and held back Biddeford to get a 39-33 win. Windham seventh graders fought hard against the Tigers, but fell 49-35, despite a push toward the end which closed a wide gap between the teams.

Windham eighth grader Boston Krainis drives to the basket
during a boy's middle school basketball game against
Biddeford at home on Monday, Jan. 29.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
Eighth Grade


“I think we played well in spurts, and I think we were a little lost at times,” said Windham Middle School eighth grade boys’ basketball coach Adam Manzo. “They held it together and made some free throws down the stretch and made the plays at the end; it wasn’t our best game by any means, but sometimes you have to win ugly. They take on things and retain things really well, but at times it looks like we just forget what we learned. First quarter ... press went well; we rebounded the ball in the first quarter. They become both too selfish and too unselfish [and that needs work]. We pass the ball when we should just shoot the ball and sometimes, we don’t pass the ball when we should. They’ve been playing together for so long that sometimes they forget there are four other people on the floor and it’s ok to give that ball up.”

Windham jumped out to an early lead and grabbed rebounds and moved the ball effectively. They scored several times and their defense kept Biddeford practically scoreless early on.

Windham continued to take shot after shot, but in a low-scoring second quarter Biddeford’s turnovers helped them catch up, although Windham still maintained the lead, 18-11 at the first buzzer.

“The first quarter we moved the ball well, great teamwork,” said Boston Krainis. “Second quarter got a little sloppy, giving up offensive rebounds and third quarter was all right and then fourth quarter we turned it on, shots started falling, getting the lead up defense ... great game, overall.”

Krainis said defensive rebounds need work. Although, he thinks they’ve definitely improved since the start of the season.

Windham opened the second half with a basket. They continued to get rebounds. They fought for the ball and kept a comfortable lead.

Biddeford slowly creeped up and soon was within striking distance of turning this game around. Windham pressured and did not let that happen.

“We had good passes; the ball wasn’t moving as fast, but I feel we could have moved it a lot better,” said Werani Anthony. “We had a good game overall – shots were going up, layups were going up, our passes were good. I think we need better quarter vision on the court, because we had open plays in the paint a lot and couldn’t get the ball to them – other than that we played a pretty good game.”

Seventh Grade


A three-pointer by Dezi Grant put Windham on the scoreboard. Ryan Manning sunk a couple foul shots. Riley Gallagher sunk a three-pointer. Despite this, Biddeford pulled away in the first quarter.

Windham’s offense slowly picked up. Biddeford grabbed turnovers and ran up the scoreboard. At the half, Biddeford led 26-16.

Windham fought for the ball in the second half and never stopped trying. They got some rebounds and closed the points gap a little as they entered the fourth quarter.

“We played very hard; we were just getting beat by [Biddeford’s] size,” said Manning. “I think we need to get more rebounds. We did good offensively ... heading into the third quarter, coach really motivated us, and we really pushed it hard. Our offense [went well]; we ran a couple plays that got us baskets.”

Manning said they need to be more aggressive, especially if they want to flip scores. He thought they were a little soft during this game.

As the clock wound down, Windham grabbed rebounds and sunk several baskets. They had a push at the end, but it wasn’t enough.

“We didn’t pull it all together on a consistent basis,” said Windham Middle School seventh grade boys’ basketball coach Craig Dickson. “We weren’t pulling all the things we had learned together all at once. It’s a great bunch of kids but it’s hard, I just try to keep building their confidence and telling the kids to shoot [the ball]. I think they periodically demonstrated aggressiveness. Any time my guys can be tough and aggressive, the grit that it takes to win. We’ve been consistently working on dribbling and shooting – I don’t ever want to deter a kid from shooting. I’ve seen the progress – kids are getting better, their shooting more and their confidence is going up.” <

Friday, January 26, 2024

Champion quarter horse rider proud of achievements

By Matt Pascarella

Windham Christian Academy sixth grader Elsa Pearson is a very active athlete and she’s been riding horses since before she can remember. On Jan. 13 at the Silver Heels Riding Club Show Series in New Hampshire, Pearson received several awards to celebrate the total points she earned for a series of six quarter horse shows that she competed in during 2023.

Windham sixth grader Elsa  Pearson takes a
moment with her quarter horse Sugar in
New Hampshire in 2023.
PHOTO BY MEAGHAN PEARSON 
Besides riding, Pearson plays soccer and basketball and regularly volunteers at the food pantry in Casco. She cares for her quarter horse, Sugar, 365 days a year, often in subzero temperatures.

“I have been riding since before I was born,” said Pearson. “I’ve never known a day without a horse to care for; I love them, it’s a part of me. The horses and the lifestyle make me want to do this for the rest of my life. I plan to go to college to be an equine veterinarian.”

Of the top 10 riders in the Silver Heels Riding Club, Pearson was ranked first this year – which included adults and professionals of all levels. She showed in at least 16 classes at each show in three different rings, all in different divisions including pattern and obstacle classes and many different styles of riding. She earned a total of 721 points for the season; the highest number of points for the 2023 season.

Dedication and hard work manifests in many aspects of Elsa Pearson’s life, especially outside the ring. She has maintained the highest academic honors since First Grade and plays the trumpet in the school band.

Pearson says that she is very proud of her achievements and her family who helped her get here. She set a goal last year and did all she needed to get there but said that she could not have done it without her horse, Sugar.

Her mother, Meghan Pearson, began riding at the age of 9 and helps Elsa train Sugar. When Meghan Pearson was pregnant with Elsa, she was riding. Now, along with being responsible for the horse’s daily care and vetting, Elsa rides five days a week.

“Before she could even sit on her own, she was in the barn in a stroller or being held in the saddle,” said Meghan Pearson. “Sugar is a very high level and technical horse, a horse that needs clear, calm, and fair leadership. She has been shown all over the country and knows her job. She is a very serious-type horse, but she and Elsa have a strong and steadfast bond. I cannot wait to see what they do.”

Family friend and fellow rider Tammy Marchand is the Silver Heels Riding Club president where Elsa Pearson shows Sugar. Marchand began taking riding lessons 12 years ago and that’s where she first met Meghan Pearson. They rode at the same barn and on occasion rode at the same time. As a family oriented club, educating youth by example is a major component to their mission.

In 2019, Marchand became a part of Elsa Pearson’s show family and cheering team. They both competed together in their respective divisions.

“I had the pleasure of watching Elsa at each of our five shows this year. She is one determined and ambitious young lady,” said Marchand. “During the season I have witnessed the growth in Elsa’s riding and horsemanship. Among other things, showing has taught Elsa sportsmanship. Elsa could always be found on the sideline watching and cheering on the other riders. She learned how to manage her time in between classes and being ready for her next class. She learned humility when things didn’t go as planned. All these experiences helped her gain so much confidence in herself and her riding. She learned that hard work, dedication, and perseverance do pay off. Elsa is an amazing young lady with an amazing family and support system. Watching her grow into the horsewoman she is today has been a great privilege.”

Meghan Pearson said she is most proud of her daughter’s moral compass and character. Elsa Pearson works very hard in school, on the court or field, as well as in the ring, and is a wonderfully kind, helpful, loving, and supportive person. There aren’t many kids that show the grit she does to make her dreams come true and she considers herself incredibly lucky to be her mom.

Elsa Pearson rides with precision and finesse of a much more seasoned rider and said that she is always open to learning and is looking forward to turning it up a gear as she and Sugar set their sights on the New York Reining Horse Circuits for 2024.

“I like getting to know my horse better each day,” said Elsa Pearson. “I like completing challenges with them, things I never could do without them. A horse needs to be happy and healthy to be able to compete. You have to put in a lot of time practicing. I try to set goals each year that are reasonable. I am grateful to be able to compete and be successful.” <

Windham varsity girls’ basketball starts strong, but falls to Oxford Hills

By Matt Pascarella

Coming off an away win against Edward Little the night before, Windham took the court at home on Saturday, Jan. 20 against Oxford Hills where Windham started strong, but lost some of their strength and were quickly overtaken by the Vikings. The game was a real back and forth early on, until Oxford Hills pulled away in the second half and got a 41-23 win.

Windham senior Mallory Muse takes a shot from just outside 
the three-point line against Oxford Hills at Windham High
School on Saturday, Jan. 20.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA
Windham began the game with a three-pointer from sophomore Marley Jarvais. They rebounded well and held onto the lead in the first quarter.

Oxford Hills snagged several turnovers and closed the gap. The game was tied at 10. Windham hustled hard after the ball. It remained close for much of the first half.

“When we were communicating ... working together and slowing things down that really helped us,” said Windham senior Mallory Muse. We were all kind of tired and ... they’re a really good team but I do think when we see them again, we’ll do better. Having more time to prepare [would have turned this game around] and put our heads more into the game. When we came out in the third quarter it wasn’t our best performance, we were rushing a little bit.”

Oxford Hills pulled ahead. Windham defense kept them from advancing too much. At the half, Oxford Hills led, 20-13.

“It was a battle because we played a game yesterday,” said Windham junior Stella Jarvais. “We got back late and had a lot of mental mistakes with passing and being sure of what we were doing, being organized and that didn’t help. When we were organized and communicated, we had a lot of good looks at the basket. When we shot, we had a lot of good rebounds, when we just slow down we tend to do better. We weren’t at our best, but if we communicated and slowed things down, we would have been able to keep that lead and if we made adjustments earlier [on Oxford Hills] we would have been closer into this game than we were.”

In the second half, Windham shots weren’t falling as much, and Oxford Hills held onto the lead. Windham had good defense, but it wasn’t enough to flip the score. Windham sophomore Brianna Duarte hit a three-pointer. Windham worked to get closer to Oxford Hills’ lead.

“As a team I think we need to improve on communicating and keeping our heads up,” said Duarte. “When we make a mental mistake, it’s very hard to get back into the game and fix what we need to do. Nearing the end, I think our heads dropped a little bit because we saw that they kept scoring and we kept giving up rebounds ...and the ball. We tried staying into it, but it was very hard.

We could have made adjustments to our defense where we stopped them a little bit more because they weren’t hitting their shots in the first half.”

Windham moved the ball well in the fourth quarter, but Oxford Hills had a significant lead. Windham kept fighting. Windham sophomore Kendra Eubanks got a layup in the final seconds to close the gap a tiny bit more.

We had a good start,” said Windham varsity girls’ basketball coach Brody Artes. “We came out and had some energy in the first quarter. We defended well, rebounded well, and scored some baskets early. We got tired quick as a result of playing back-to-back for sure and Oxford Hills has a good player that took over the game midway through that second quarter. I was happy with [Windham’s] effort early on; I know the kids are tired – we just got to keep working hard to get better every day. We got to handle pressure a little bit better ... we threw the ball away quite a bit and had a lot of turnovers, we got to to value the ball a little bit more and take care of it a little bit more and it’ll put us in much better spots.” <

Friday, January 19, 2024

Wolfpack wrestling team earns back-to-back wins in meets against Deering and Scarborough

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham/Gray New-Gloucester/Westbrook varsity Wolfpack wrestling team showed they are gearing up and ready as they head toward the postseason during meets against Deering and Scarborough/Gorham on Wednesday, Jan. 10 at Deering in Portland. The Wolfpack ousted both teams with big wins, beating Deering 70-12, and Scarborough/Gorham 72-12.

Wolfpack wrestler Christian Harvey of Windham works to
flip his opponent to his back on Wednesday, Jan. 10 with
Scarborough/Gorham at Deering High School in Portland.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA
“I thought overall the team wrestled great,” said Wolfpack coach John Nicholas. “Everyone seemed to come together today and wrestled hard; they were really cheering each other on. They really pulled together and looked tough ... we’ll use this as a springboard headed into the playoffs. I thought a lot of the pinning combinations they’ve been working on in practice they put to work. We got a lot of pins, we scored a lot of team points with those, so it was good to see what we’ve been working on in practice they’re using out there on the mat. We really got to ramp up the conditioning in practice and I think if they do that with the technique they’ve been using, we’ll be pretty strong come regionals.”

Deering

In the 157-weight class, Westbrook senior Tyler Worcester won and Windham junior CK Kennedy won his match when he pinned his opponent in the first round.

Westbrook senior Gavin Tanner kept his opponent held to the mat in the 175-weight class and worked to flip him to his back. Tanner did not give up and won his match 12-0.

“We’ve wrestled Deering before, and we’ve beat them before, so I’d say we were expecting to win for sure,” said Tanner. “We hadn’t faced Scarborough/Gorham yet, but we were expecting to do the same thing, just come in and wrestle how we wrestle. I wrestled good on top, kept them down pretty good, got them to move back a couple times so that went well for me. [As a team,] we were all cheering each other on really well, fighting off our backs and working really hard to win every single match. We have a lot of young people on the team, and I think we have a lot of maturing to do and I think we ... can all get better. Today went really well, we were wrestling some teams that weren’t as good as us, it shows us where we can improve and [what] we can work on.”

Senior and Windham wrestler Griffin Moreau worked to flip his opponent in the 285-weight class and pinned him in two rounds.

In the 123-weight class Westbrook sophomore Ben Corriveau kept his opponent to the mat and pinned him.

Coach Nicholas said Corriveau’s wrestling looked good.

Windham junior Ayden Cofone quickly drove his opponent to the mat and got the pin in the 126-weight class.

In the 132-weight class, Westbrook senior Owen Pilsbury stayed with his opponent, held them to the mat and won his match.

Scarborough/Gorham


Worcester won in the 157-weight class against Scarborough/Gorham, as did Kennedy in the 165-weight class and Tanner in the 170- weight class.

Moreau pressured his opponent, held him to the mat and pinned him for the win in the 285-weight class. According to Coach Nicholas, Moreau has been looking strong all season.

In the 113-weight class, Windham junior Addison Leger won, and Windham freshman Amelia Brickel won in the 120-weight class.

Corriveau worked to flip his opponent. His opponent stood up but was taken right back to the mat. Corriveau pulled his opponent’s arms from the mat and pinned him.

“I’ve been not feeling so good with my elbow,” said Corriveau. “I was looking to keep it chill, and not overdo myself. I got two pins and two more wins to go toward my 100 wins. I got two good cradles in on my opponents. [opponents put leg up and able to wrap my arms around their leg and their head and tip them onto their back]. The team is good at rooting each other on and keeping each other positive. We’re a really strong team and family. We need to work as a whole team instead of ... individually.”

Pilsbury pinned his opponent.

In the 144-weight class, Windham senior Christian Harvey has been looking solid all season. He brought his opponent to the mat, held him there; he made it very hard for him to get up. Harvey got the win. <

Windham progresses nicely in early season ski meet

By Matt Pascarella

In their first giant slalom (GS) meet of the season and their second meet altogether, Windham High School’s alpine ski team hit the slopes on Monday, Jan. 15 at Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton against Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth, York, Traip, Edward Little and Westbrook. Windham girls finished in fourth place with a score of 79. The boys also finished fourth with a score of 88.

Windham sophomore Tucker Roy digs the edges of his skis
into the snow during his first race of the giant slalom course 
at Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton in a meet against
several schools from Southern Maine on Monday, Jan. 15.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA   
“The racers wholeheartedly supported each other on the course,” said Windham High School’s alpine ski coach Christine Fredette. “There is a lot of camaraderie on the team and even though they compete individually, they know that their team is 100 percent behind them. We are building our fundamentals, many of the racers need help learning how to care for their race equipment and need to build their skills base to be more successful on the course. We will work on the fundamentals for the rest of the season. We are already seeing improvement, and hope that the team's skills base continues to improve.”

Girls

Senior Lilly McLean finished 12th overall and first for Windham with a combined two-run time of 1:14.44 minutes.

Right behind her was freshman Maya Dries who finished 13th overall and second for Windham with a combined time of 1:15.55.

“I think the conditions were really good, especially in the first run,” said Dries. “The course was set pretty nicely and coming up the headwall was good conditions. The course wasn’t breaking away too much considering it’s all been man-made snow. I thought I did pretty good; I’m a freshman and I was a little bit scared because the courses are much longer than they have been in years past. I was definitely nervous but happy about ... the race.”

Dries thought team encouragement went well but thinks the more the team gets out on the snow, the better they’ll do as the season progresses. Also getting lower and using their downhill edge a lot more needs some practice.

Junior Kolet Chudy finished third for Windham and 27th overall with a combined time of 1:23.93.

Sophomore Maddy Cook finished fourth for Windham with a combined time of 1:27.28 and 28th overall.

Junior Katelyn Cotter finished fifth for Windham with a combined time of 1:31.68.

Sophomore Ella Washburn finished sixth for Windham with a combined time of 1:33.55.

In her first alpine ski race ever, junior Nichole Allegra finished seventh for Windham with a combined time of 2:02.14.

“The second time the trail was icy,” said Allegra. “I was nervous in the beginning, but during the second race it was better. The first run was good; the support of the team [went well]. I would like to go faster [in future races].”

Boys

Sophomore Tucker Roy finished first for the team and 14th overall with a combined time of 1:10.38.

“For our first giant slalom race we haven’t had any practice,” said Roy. “Our team really went out – we’ve been working with chemistry together ... everyone did really well. The course felt really good, it was really firm, so everyone was able to get a good edge and helped ... both our runs. I think everyone had really good outside ski pressure, rolling their ankles, really driving toward the gates – getting wide. I think if we practice some more on the courses ... we could really get stronger and work better toward our next race.”

Junior Preston Stretch was second for Windham and 20th overall with a combined time of 1:15.90.

Sophomore Finn Jorgensen was third for Windham and 25th overall with a combined time of 1:25.10.

Fourth for Windham was sophomore Nick Davenport with a combined time of 1:32.56.

Not far behind Davenport, was freshman Bryce Jarvais who finished fifth for Windham with a combined time of 1:37.02.

“As a team, we performed really well together,” said Stretch. “The course was nice and easy, and it was a good start to the season. It was really good snow, really firm snow, easy to ski on, easy to carve. I thought it was great. I think we need to work on our different skiing disciplines and our different styles of skiing and ... ski more to improve. It was a success because it was our first GS race, we all had great improvement, and we all got a feel for the snow; got a feel for what we’re doing this season, and we know how to progress now.” <

Sebago Trout Unlimited: Champions of Watershed Conservation and Coldwater Fisheries

By Lou Zambello
Special to The Windham Eagle


In the tranquil corners of Southwest Maine, a dedicated group of individuals is making a difference in the world of conservation and angling. The Sebago Chapter of Trout Unlimited, a non-profit organization with a passion for preserving coldwater fisheries and promoting sustainable angling practices, is making an impact in the region.

Sebago Trout Unlimited is sponsoring an
ice fishing demonstration on Chaffin Pond at
Donnabeth Lipmann Park in Windham on
Feb. 3. Anyone interested in learning about
ice fishing can stop by and try their luck.
COURTESY PHOTO
Founded on the principles of conservation, education, and community engagement, the Sebago Chapter has been instrumental in the protection and restoration of local watersheds, particularly those crucial for the survival of native trout populations. With over 500 members, this dynamic organization has become a hub for anglers and nature enthusiasts alike, working tirelessly to ensure the preservation of aquatic ecosystems for future generations.

One of the hallmark initiatives of the Sebago Chapter is its commitment to habitat restoration. Through strategic partnerships with environmental agencies and local authorities, the organization actively engages in projects to improve and rehabilitate critical habitats for trout and other native fish species. This includes pond rehabilitation, streambank stabilization, fish population studies, and removing barriers that impede fish migration.

One of the current projects includes removing the remnants of Edes Falls Dam to improve the passage of the Crooked River’s native landlocked salmon. Another is advocating for the protection of a wild brook trout population in Red Brook in South Portland.

Education plays a pivotal role in the Sebago Chapter's mission. The organization regularly conducts workshops, seminars, and outreach programs to raise awareness about the importance of coldwater fisheries and the delicate balance required to maintain healthy ecosystems. From fly-fishing clinics for beginners to in-depth discussions on watershed management, the Sebago Chapter ensures that its members and the local community are well-informed stewards of the environment.

Last fall, this organization organized a river clean up of the Mousam River in Kennebunk and offered educational presentations about the river. On Feb. 3, they are sponsoring an ice-fishing demonstration on Chaffin Pond at Lipmann Park in Windham. Anyone interested in learning about ice-fishing can stop by and try their luck. See communication links below.

The chapter also places a strong emphasis on engaging youth in conservation efforts. Through collaborations with local schools and youth organizations, they provide educational programs that inspire the next generation of environmental advocates. From streamside field trips to hands-on activities that highlight the interconnectedness of ecosystems, the Sebago Chapter is nurturing a sense of responsibility and appreciation for nature among young minds. Contact Sebago TU if you would like them to connect with your organization.

Angling excellence is another cornerstone of the Sebago Chapter's activities. Recognizing that responsible angling is key to preserving fisheries, the organization hosts regular fishing outings that promote ethical angling practices. They encourage catch-and-release techniques, advocate for proper fish handling, and emphasize the importance of respecting fishing regulations to maintain healthy fish populations.

Periodically, throughout the year, the chapter invites fly-fishing experts to share their knowledge of local waters through presentations or on-river instruction.

The Sebago Chapter also actively participates in policy advocacy at the local and state levels. Through collaboration with government agencies, they work to influence policies that support sustainable fisheries management and conservation efforts. Whether addressing water quality concerns, advocating for stricter regulations on invasive species, or pushing for the protection of critical habitats, the chapter takes a proactive stance in shaping the future of fisheries in the Sebago Lake region.

In addition to their conservation and educational initiatives, the Sebago Chapter fosters a strong sense of community among its members. Regular meetings, social events, and volunteer opportunities create a supportive network of like-minded individuals who share a passion for coldwater fisheries and environmental stewardship.

Board Member Matt Streeter summarizes his long experience with the organization by saying, “Sebago TU has something for everybody throughout the year. My interest is in on-the-ground conservation projects like dam removals and fish-passage culvert replacements. But we have activities for people who love to tie flies, learn about river ecology, or just explore local fly-fishing rivers, not to mention youth programs like Maine Trout Camp.

As the Sebago Chapter of Trout Unlimited continues to grow and evolve, it welcomes new members, more attendees to our events, (membership not required) and increased donations to support our initiatives. Go to www.sebagotu.org to learn more about activities, programs, how to join, and donate. Follow Sebago TU on Instagram and Facebook @sebagotu

Friday, January 12, 2024

WHS varsity boys’ basketball keep win streak alive by beating Portland

By Matt Pascarella

In a fast-paced game where the score was tight, Windham’s varsity boys’ basketball team took the lead against Portland at halftime and never let it go, winning its eighth consecutive game and remaining undefeated with a 52-47 win at home on Jan. 6.

Windham sophomore Tyrie James is well ahead of his
Portland opponents as he makes his way toward the basket
during a boys' varsity basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 6
at Windham High School.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
“We had home court advantage [against Portland], said Windham sophomore AJ Moody. “We had our teammates, our family ... our coaches – probably the best coaches in the league, we have encouragement all over this team. It was intense, it was emotional, it was physical. We came out composed and that’s how we pulled it off; our offense went very well, and how we moved the ball at the end, how we connected on free throws – rebounding was a big one, boxing out.”

This was a high-pressure game from the very beginning. Windham had stellar offense and defense and took the lead early. They worked the entire game as a cohesive unit.

Portland tied the game and took the lead, despite Windham junior Creighty Dickson’s three-point buzzer beater at the end of the first quarter.

Moody hit a three-pointer, his first of four. So did Windham sophomore Tyrie James. This game was very, very close. Windham rebounded and snagged every opportunity to increase their lead.

Moody hit another three-pointer and tied the game at 24. James hit another three-pointer.

Windham led 30-26 midway through. They would not give up the lead for the remainder of the game.

“The whole team made extra passes, it’s easy to get open shots,” said James. “Our energy was good; in the fourth quarter I think we settled down and our shots were falling too – we had momentum. We kept up the intensity, played defense, hit our shots. Everything went well, it was just a good game overall – everyone contributed.”

The pressure was on in the second half. There was no lack of intensity from anyone on the team. They continued rebounding. Windham senior Erik Bowen sunk a three-pointer.

But Portland was not far from the lead.

Moody hit two more three-pointers. Windham defense held Portland back. The Eagles had a 10-point lead toward the end of the third quarter.

“They just attack every day,” said Windham boys’ varsity coach Chad Pulkkinen. “They come and work every single day, they’re coachable, they listen and they’re hungry; they’re not satisfied. We talk about it all the time – just one game at a time, one day at a time, we try to win each day. The teammates that these guys are allows us to be super connected; unselfish play and they trust one another. I’m proud of them. We know Portland is an unbelievable team ... they have so much talent on that team and the whole league is tough, so we don’t overlook anybody. I love to see [Windham’s] fight and their hunger. Our senior leadership is extremely mature and extremely experienced. They understand that we got to come in and prove ourselves in practice; they understand they got to have each other’s back on and off the court. I’m sure [Windham’s record] is nice and they celebrate it, but then we get right back to work. It’s impressive.”

Coach Pulkkinen said being patient went well. Understanding what a great shot is, understanding situations, how they defend certain people along with the basics and fundamentals of the game still need work.

In the fourth quarter, Portland caught up more. Windham was too fast and too accurate with their shooting for the Bulldogs to gain much of an advantage.

Less than eight seconds left, and Windham’s lead expanded. Senior Blake McPherson helped widen that lead. Senior Quinton Lindsay sunk a couple foul shots.

Windham gained possession and the clock ran out.

“We stayed together, kept our emotions in check,” said Bowen. "[We] used the energy of the environment to our advantage. Every day we come in and stay hungry, we don’t worry about our record, we just focus on the next game, and everybody gives their all.”

Bowen said moving the ball, rebounding, getting good shots, making [Portland] take tough shots on defense all led to success. They got to keep working to get better shots, play stronger defense, rebound the ball, and get back on offense. <

Windham High School swimmers show improvement against Scarborough

By Matt Pascarella

Halfway through the season and in the first meet of 2024, the Windham High School swim team is making steady improvement and showed it during a meet against Scarborough on Wednesday, Jan. 3 at Saint Joseph’s College. The Windham girls defeated the Red Storm, 79-72, and the Windham boys fell, 125-24.

Windham junior Morgan Farley keeps pace as she competes
against Scarborough during a swimming meet on Wednesday,
Jan. 3 at Saint Joseph's College.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA
“The team’s been working really hard,” said Windham swim coach Peter Small. “The technical aspects we wanted to kick in have really kicked in and a lot of that is they have been working really hard. We’re seeing acceleration under water, we’re seeing folks grabbing the water better, we’re seeing strokes that are longer, we’re seeing streamlines off the wall that are just better. All those technical things we were hoping would kick right in have kicked in for a lot of these kids. I just stood back in awe at a lot of our races today how well things are kicking in.”

Girls


In the 50-yard freestyle junior Morgan Farley finished first with a 28.26 second time. She finished second in the 500 with a 7:05.56 time.

“My expectation was to put my all into my races and do the best I can even if my times weren’t my best times,” said Farley. “Coach has taught me a lot about worrying about technique instead of my time and I think that’s really helpful. The 50 freestyle went really well, because I only took one breath which was my goal and I thought that my technique was really good; I loved my time, it was the best time that I got. We had very good team spirit – it’s really helpful in general.”

Farley said she could work on pacing in her 500 and as a team, they need to change that mindset from “I can’t” to “I can.”

In the 200 individual medley, junior Sarah Inman finished first with a 2:30.29 time. Inman finished first in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:21.62.

Senior Grace Theriault finished with a 1:05.12 time in first place in the 100 freestyle. Theriault finished second in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:21.55.

In the 200-freestyle seniors Riley Small finished fourth and Mackenzie Gaudette finished fifth. Small had a time of 2:41.45 and Gaudette had a 3:14.11 time.

Small finished third in the 100-freestyle with a 1:16.92 time.

Boys

In the 500-freestyle, freshman Mason Butterfield finished second with an 8:01.30 time. He also finished third in the 200 with a time of 2:49.50.

In the 100, senior Landon Buzulchuck finished fourth with a 1:09.68 time. Behind him was sophomore Wyatt Washburn in fifth place with a 1:11.89 time and senior Joey Somma with a time of 1:17.21 in sixth place.

Washburn finished third in the 50 with a 29.10 time. Buzulchuck was fourth with a time of 29.61 and Somma finished fifth with a 29.80 time.

“Coming in we were not worrying about the other team,” said Washburn. “We’d just do the best that we could and focus on ourselves and give it all that we got. We really improved from last meet. Positivity [went well]; flip turns [need work].”

In the 100 backstroke freshman Sawyer Stone finished third with a 1:47.34 time. Sophomore Caden Valle came in fifth with a time of 1:51.06. Junior David Daignault finished with a 1:58.55 time in sixth place.

In the 400 relay, Windham came in third with a time of 5:13.58.

“Our kids raced,” said Coach Small. “Each week we talk about what specifically we want to do and for us today it was this idea of acceleration under water. Kids responded really well. It was fun to see.”

Small said he thinks they need to swim downhill more and while the acceleration was better, there’s still room to improve. They still need to see that thrust at the tail end of each one of their strokes. <