Boys basketball: Windham finds its stride, takes down Lewiston
The Eagles, thanks to a suffocating zone defense and hot shooting, earned a big road win over the Blue Devils.
BY ADAM ROBINSONSUN JOURNAL
LEWISTON — Coming in with just a single win, Windham showed up to Lewiston High School with confidence in itself, which translated to points and a big 68-42 win over the Blue Devils on Saturday.
“We knew from the beginning of the season that we start with a tough schedule, and Lewiston is a great team who is playing really well,” Windham coach Chad Pulkkinen said. “Every night is a battle and we knew coming in at 1-5 we needed to start feeling good about each other. We tell the guys every day that it’s a process. We don’t care about the results, it’s the process and the results will come with it.”
Windham (2-5) got the ball rolling early as forward Chris Naylor scored three buckets down low to assert the Eagles’ presence in the paint.
On defense, the Eagles ran a 2-3 zone and at the top was Eric Weisser, whose long arms took away a lot of passing lanes. Windham notched seven steals in the first half and scored multiple times on the fast break.
“It’s really hard for other teams to score against our zone,” Naylor said. “We are really active, we have some long arms and some big guys down low rebounding.”
Lewiston’s senior point guard, Dylon Jackson, earned two fouls with three minutes left in the first quarter and didn’t play for the rest of the first half, which sacrificed some defense and veteran leadership as the Blue Devils (3-3) started just one other senior.
In the second quarter, Lewiston stayed shot for shot with Windham for a couple minutes. Evan Williams hit a mid-range jumper, then Ali Abdullahi hit a triple, but then Windham’s Will Mannette found his rhythm.
The Windham sophomore hit back-to-back 3-point shots to give his team a 22-9 lead with six minutes remaining in the half, then later hit a 3 at the end of the half to put the Eagles up 38-11.
“Will is a really good shooter and to get him going early was big for us,” Naylor said. “We were trading buckets there for a little while and he got us back on track.”
Pulkkinen was waiting for the big game to come from Mannette, who finished the game with 17 points.
“He’s a sophomore, so he’s learning as the season progresses, but he’s one of those guys that we trust scoring the basketball,” Pulkkinen said. “He’s a great scorer, wants to score, he’s a competitor and he was due for a game like that, and it was good to see him do that and rise to the opportunity.”
The third quarter was much of the same for the Eagles. Naylor earned an old-fashioned three-point play early in the quarter to put Windham up by 30 points. Naylor finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Advertisement
Williams answered with a 3-pointer for Lewiston, followed by the first of two triples for David Omasombo, as both players finished with a team-high 10 points.
The Blue Devils cut the deficit to 45-24 with two minutes left in the third, but couldn’t get any closer from there. It was a testament to Windham’s effort from the tip-off to the final buzzer.
“Our guys are long and work extremely hard,” Pulkkinen said. “This year has just been about getting better and I think we are getting better. Tonight I thought we came out and really wanted to put it to them, and it started on the defensive side.”
The 2-3 zone of Windham continued to apply pressure and kept on forcing Lewiston turnovers. Lewiston coach Ronnie Turner said that Windham out-worked his team from the start.
“Windham just came ready to play and we didn’t,” Turner said. “Our guys, we were lackadaisical and didn’t come ready to play. I didn’t do a good job of getting them prepared for this game. Good job to Windham, they came in here and beat us up. They did a good job of that.”
Ahmed Bahad scored eight points in the fourth for Lewiston, but it was not enough to climb back from the deep hole the Blue Devils were in