By Jim Manion | Correspondent
The Windham Bombers closed out the first half of the Portage Trail Conference County Division Friday night against rival Garfield and, despite what might appear to be an easy 14-point victory for the division leader, it was anything but easy.
Windham had its best offensive production of the season while scoring an 88-74 win before a near capacity loud crowd at Garfield. The Bombers pushed leads to 16 points in the third quarter and 19 points in the beginning of the fourth, but Garfield continued to make runs and got inside of 10 points with only three minutes to play.
"I think our bench won this game tonight," said veteran Windham coach Marty Hill. "Deon (Jones) went in and did a good job, and Jonah (Konzen) played well tonight also. We weren't as smooth as we want to be and got several guys in foul trouble, but once again we had a lot of guys contribute. Garfield played a good game. We watched them on film and scouted them and we knew they are tough."
The Bombers (11-1, 7-0 PTC County) now lead Mogadore by a game as the teams prepare for the second round.
The Bombers came into Garfield expecting to take care of business, and for the most part they looked like the best team in the division. However, Garfield (3-8, 3-4 PTC County) was not about to give up and was only outscored by two points after falling behind by 12 after one quarter.
The offensive attack by Windham was keyed by Cameron Pozsgai in the first half, while Matt Knight put up the numbers in the second.
Pozsgai finished the night with 23 points, 16 in the first half ,while Knight tossed in 13 of his 21 points after intermission. Parker Rickey scored 15, while Jared Taylor had a great effort all-around with 11 points, five assists, and four steals.
Taylor drilled the first shot of the night for Windham when he hit a 3-pointer from the corner. It was the first of five 3s by the Bombers in the first eight minutes as Windham used long range to help score 47 first-half points. Pozsgai put up 14 points in the first quarter and finished the first half with 19 as the Bombers led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter.
It didn't take Windham long to push a 5-5 tie to a 24-12 first quarter score. Fred Maxey kept the G-Men in the game with nine first-half rebounds and eight points. A Steven Lambert free throw with only 26 seconds left in the half brought Garfield back to within 10 (45-35). However, Jake Viebranz scored inside for the Bombers with only 11 seconds remaining to gain a 47-35 halftime advantage for Windham.
Knight scored eight straight points for the Bombers in the third quarter, when Windham turned up the defensive intensity at mid-court and Taylor made a pair of steals and assists to his senior teammate for fastbreak baskets. A Knight layup at the four-minute mark of the third quarter gave his team a 60-41 advantage.
Garfield countered late in the third however, and cut the deficit to 64-53 at the break. The G-Men actually outscored Windham 18-17 in the quarter. Maxey continued to control the glass, while Matt Pratt hit his second 3-pointer and scored eight points in the third quarter.
With 2:56 left on the game clock, Garfield cut the Bombers lead to only eight (76-68). But Pozsgai and Rickey each scored a pair of baskets when Windham beat the Garfield press down court.
"We are the epitome of a tough-luck losing team," said Garfield coach Andy Olesky. "I am so incredibly proud of my guys right now. They battled their hearts out. They jumped out on us early and we dug a hole, but we weathered a lot of storms throughout the game. We just couldn't get over the hump."
Anthony Workmen led four Garfield players in double figures with 18 points. Pratt and Steven Lambert had 15 each, while Maxey scored 12 and finished the night with 16 rebounds.