LEWISTON — On a night when cold shooting plagued both teams, the Lewiston offense picked the worst possible time to go downright frigid.
The Blue Devils were held to just three points in the fourth thanks to a suffocating defense from Windham, which grinded out a 44-37 Class AA North boys’ basketball victory Monday.
“That’s what (Windham) does. They’ve done it to a lot of good teams in the state this year. They’re a really good defensive team,” Lewiston coach Tim Farrar said. “You know, they changed their defensive approach about three weeks ago, and it’s made a huge difference.”
“I mean, we kind of hold our hat on our defense,” Windham coach Chad Pulkkinen said, “and Lewiston’s been averaging a ton of points — you know, 50-something points a game. So holding them close to 20 points under their average is what gets it done, and especially a tight game like that.”
Lewiston (2-10) entered the contest averaging more than 56 points per game, with a previous low of 43. The Blue Devils were on pace to avoid setting a new season-low, and were tied 34-34 in the waning seconds of the third quarter.
Then Eric Weisser hit a buzzer-beater 3-pointer for Windham (7-6) to give the Eagles the lead heading into the fourth.Advertisement
“Eric’s a great player, and for him to get that shot, get himself feeling well, just did a lot for our team, boosted our confidence,” Pulkkinen said. “Coming into that fourth, we kind of got over the edge there. I think that helped us out a lot. Kind of woke us up and got us to believe in each other.”
Farrar said that in a game with a total of 81 points scored, any points were momentum boosters.
The Eagles’ defense fed off Weisser’s timely offense, extending its zone in the fourth and forcing the Blue Devils to either take low-percentage 3s or contested inside shots.
“You know, they extended out a little further, and we settled for some shots,” Farrar said. “But we also got some good shots the last couple minutes that rimmed out, and, you know, that would have been a little bit different.”
Lewiston’s lone points of the final period came on an Evan Williams 3 with 3:46 left, but that only pulled the Blue Devils to within 42-37.
Dierhow Bol made two free throws in the final two minutes to make it a three-possession game and deny any Blue Devils’ comeback bid.Advertisement
The way the game started looked like Lewiston would get to its scoring average. A back-and-forth, up-tempo battle saw Windham holding a slight 13-12 edge after one quarter. The Blue Devils had four different players make baskets, but they couldn’t replicate that output again.
“You’ve got to find the open guys, and early on we did that, and later on we didn’t,” Farrar said. “Part of that is the adjustments that Coach Pulkkinen made, but also some of our guys just some of the tougher positions that they’ve been in. They took some of the space away that was there early.”
Shots were hard to come by for the Eagles, but they made up for it with their defensive effort and just enough made free throws. They clobbered the Blue Devils in that category, 16-4. Bol made eight, and Kaleb Cidre six more.
“We kept battling trying to find the right pass, and we got some good shots, but it was a team effort of rebounding, you know, we got some layups, we made our foul shots,” Pulkkinen said. “All those little things added up, and our defense was our anchor.”
Hassan Hussein scored a game-high 13 points, which Pulkkinen said is “way under his average.” Williams added nine points, but dealt with foul trouble early, picking up two fouls in the first quarter.
Weisser paced the Eagles with 11 points, including a trio of 3s. Bol added 10 and Cidre eight.