MOGADORE _ Give Windham the credit it deserves.
The Bombers have proven they can come from behind, and they obviously know when it's important to be ahead.
Tuesday on Mogadore's floor, the defending Portage County League boys basketball champions clinched at least a share of this year's PCL crown with a thrilling 61-59 victory over the Wildcats.
Windham shocked the Wildcats as the Bombers were able to make up 12-point deficits in both halves of the contest. The Bombers led on only three occasions during the entire game: 2-0, 24-23 late in the second quarter and 60-59 when 6-foot-6 sophomore Greg McDivitt put in a nice left-handed reverse layup with 17 seconds left in the game.
It was Windham's only lead of the second half, but it was the game-winner.
"We were probably lucky to win," said Windham coach Marty Hill, whose team has now won 11 in a row and stands 16-1 overall, 13-0 in PCL play. "We did play hard all game, but we played very sloppy early on. Fortunately for us, they turned the ball over against our 1-3-1 trap and they missed some key free throws.
"We'll take it. It's tough to come in here and win."
After trailing 2-0, Mogadore (11-4, 8-4 PCL) put together a 16-2 run in the first quarter as five different players joined in the scoring. Junior forward Mike Wagner led the way for the Wildcats with six rebounds during the opening period.
The Bombers, whose only loss came on Dec. 28 at LaBrae, appeared to be ripe for an upset as they went eight consecutive possessions without scoring and trailed 16-11 after eight minutes of play.
Senior Andy Francis came alive for Mogadore in the second quarter as he hit four of his first five shots from the floor, and the Wildcats' lead was extended to 23-11.
The Bombers then got airborne and went on a run of their own, scoring 13 unanswered points to take a 24-23 advantage. McDivitt was the focal point of the attack, scoring six points and grabbing three rebounds. Cedric Turner chipped in with five points and two key steals for the Bombers.
Mogadore made a late push just before the half and led 29-27 at the break.
Windham senior John Pemberton, who had scored the first basket of the game, also scored the initial basket of the second half when he stole the inbounds pass and the game was knotted at 29-29. Mogadore then went on an 11-point run and looked comfortable at 40-29.
Tony Marstiller knocked in two key baskets near the end of the quarter and the Bombers trailed 45-39 after three.
When the Wildcats' Jon Raddish got loose and scored on four consecutive trips down the floor, it looked as if Windham's streak was about to come to an end. The Wildcats pushed their advantage back to double digits and elected to run some time off the clock. However, they couldn't make good at the free-throw line, and it came back to haunt them as they were just 2-of-9 in the fourth quarter.
"We need to get it done down the stretch," said Mogadore coach Shaun Morgan. "It comes down to the little things. We need to make free throws, we need to box out better and we need to take care of the ball at crucial times during the game."
With 1:10 left to play, a Pemberton putback tied the game at 58-58. But sophomore Steve Lutz hit a free throw to push the Wildcats back in front, 59-58, with 56 seconds to go.
Windham ran the clock down to 31 seconds and called timeout. McDivitt then delivered the biggest basket of the game and the Bombers led 60-59.
After Mogadore missed a pair of free throws, Marstiller grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He converted the first attempt to make it 61-59, then Mogadore grabbed rebound but couldn't get a decent shot before the buzzer.
McDivitt led Windham with 16 points, followed by Marstiller with 13, Pemberton with 12 and Turner with 11. Turner grabbed seven of the Bombers' 30 rebounds.
Mogadore's Francis led all scorers with 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Raddish finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Wagner led all rebounders in the game with nine.
Windham 61, Mogadore 59
WINDHAM (61) _ Cedric Turner 4 1-1 11; Larry Jones 0 0-0 0; Zach Burns 0 0-0 0; Tony Marstiller 4 4-6 13; Justin Kiser 0 0-0 0; Jay Reed 1 2-2 4; John Pemberton 5 1-2 12; Anthony Morris 2 1-2 5; Greg McDivitt 5 6-11 16. Totals 21 15-24 61.
MOGADORE (59) _ Steve Lutz 0 3-5 3; Joe Runion 2 0-2 4; Jon Raddish 7 1-2 15; Troy Brooks 2 1-1 5; Mike Roth 3 0-1 6; Andy Francis 7 0-2 18; Mike Wagner 2 0-0 4; Charley Molnar 1 0-0 2; Tommy Lee 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 5-13 59.
WINDHAM 11 16 12 22 _ 61
MOGADORE 16 13 16 14 _ 59
Three-Point Goals _ Windham (4-16): Turner 2, Pemberton 1, Marstiller 1. Mogadore (4-17): Francis 4.
Total Fouls _ Mogadore, 19-17
Total Rebounds _ Windham, 30-28
Total Turnovers _ Mogadore, 15-12
JV Score _ Windham, 31-29. Leading Scorers: (W) Sean Daugherty, Bill Burns, 8 points each; (M) Jason Twiddy, Jason Staten, 8 points each