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.
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.” <