By Jim Manion | Correspondent
The Windham Bombers took a giant step Friday night when they nailed down the first match against Mogadore 62-45 to stay unbeaten in the Portage Trail Conference County Division on Marty Hill Court.
The victory gives the Bombers a one-game lead over both the Wildcats and Southeast with a Tuesday date on tap with the Pirates.
After getting off to a slow start, the Bombers (9-1, 5-0 PTC County) took command in the second quarter and never trailed, holding a 10-point lead for most of the second half. The slow start could have been attributed to the fact that senior point guard Matt Knight did not start the contest.
He suffered a severely sprained ankle in the Bombers' win over Lordstown and Bomber head coach Marty Hill said it was a game-time decision to hold him out.
Mogadore (6-2, 4-1 PTC County) jumped out to an 11-4 lead to open the game when the Bombers turned the ball over four times and missed three layups in the first six minutes of the game.
Hunter Van Camp opened with a rebound basket and then a drive to the hole for a 4-0 lead. Jake Cramer hit a 3-pointer and a 2-point basket before Kasey Beard scored inside.
Hill decided at the 3:52 mark of the first quarter that it was time to get Knight off the bench. The complexion of the contest changed in a hurry as the 6-foot senior hit a 3 from the foul line extended and then dished off a loose-ball rebound to Parker Rickey for another score, before Cameron Pozsgai tipped in a rebound with 45 seconds left in the quarter for an 11-11 lock.
Pozsgai opened the second quarter with a 3 before Jake Viebranz made a nice move to the bucket to give his team a 17-13 advantage.
Windham pushed the lead to 27-20 at halftime when Viebranz scored on a putback and then dished a perfect pass to Stephen Kacenski for a score to close out the half.
"This was a big win for us," said Hill. "You don't want to play a team like that without your point guard, and I really didn't think Matt would be able to go tonight. He is a very tough kid and he showed that tonight. They are a tough team and I thought everyone that played for us tonight really contributed."
Pozsgai scored 18 points and pulled down an amazing 17 rebounds against the taller Wildcats. Jared Taylor had one of his best nights of the season with 15 points, hitting a pair of 3 in a real crucial spot of the third quarter. Rickey hit for 11 points and six rebounds, while Knight finished with six points and seven rebounds.
"We got some strong games out of our big guys in the paint also in Jake (Viebranz) and Jonah (Konzen)," said Hill.
"I was happy with our defensive effort tonight," said Mogadore coach Russ Swartz. "But we just have to do a better job of scoring. We just don't score with consistency. We had opportunities tonight and missed layups and hit less than 50 percent from the foul line."
Taylor nailed back-to-back 3s at the five-minute mark of the third quarter, which gave the Bombers their first double-digit
lead (37-24) of the game. However, Austin Mahoney retaliated for Mogadore by also hitting two straight 3s, and Windham held a 39-30 advantage entering the final stanza.
"Jared is one of those glue guys," said Hill. "He hit those real big 3s and he has really been playing well. He runs the floor ... sometimes he might play a little too aggressive but he has really picked up his game."
The Bombers scored 23 points in the final quarter, led by Pozsgai with nine points.
Van Camp led Mogadore with 18 points in the game, while Beard had 10 with a team-high 11 rebounds. The Wildcats only managed to grab 24 rebounds for the night, while Windham took glass control with 38.