Woodridge win over Windham clouds title scenarios

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By A.J. Atkinson | Correspondent

Windham girls basketball head coach Gregg Isler had little to say after Saturday's 78-54 road loss to the Woodridge Bulldogs.

Looking to remain in a first-place tie within the Portage Trail Conference's County Division, the Bombers (8-6, 5-2 PTC County) did nothing but struggle.

The team's defense committed too many fouls and allowed too many open shots. Offensively, shots that usually hit net, hit rim and oftentimes sloppy passes led to empty possessions.

"They exploited our weaknesses, and that's about it," Isler said. "We never found our rhythm."

Not allowing Windham to find its rhythm was exactly what Woodridge head coach Chris Esterak said he wanted to do. Esterak said he looked at the film from Woodridge's first victory over Windham this season and saw where he could tighten his defense even further.

"We did a rotation in our press and took them out of their game," Esterak said.

This press helped force Windham into making 31 turnovers.

Woodridge (7-6, 5-3 PTC County) also took advantage of its opportunities at the free-throw line.

The Bulldogs finished the game 34-of-46 from the charity stripe, equaling 44 percent of the team's 78 total points.

Lizzie Wilkinson led the Bulldogs in scoring with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Where Wilkinson did her damage underneath the basket, Kapri Watson provided an offensive threat from the perimeter and finished with 19 points.

"I told Kapri before the game, 'Really focus on your mid-range game today'," Esterak said. "She did just that."

Abbe Esterak added 18 points for the Bulldogs, with nine of those coming from the foul line.

Isler said he was happy with how his team managed to cut the difference to 14 points early in the fourth quarter, but that was when the foul troubles began to halt the comeback.

Three different impact players for the Bombers all were forced out of the game with their fifth fouls between the 6:02 and 3:19 mark of the game's final quarter.

Isler said he has to remind himself it's still about getting better.

"We're still young," Isler said. "We need to learn how to adjust to adversity."

For Esterak, whose Bulldogs went 20-0 a season ago and were the County Division champions, the win helped inch Woodridge closer to being in the title discussion again, now trailing to two games to Southeast.

"This was a key game for us. We can't make another slip," Esterak said. "We have to beat Southeast next week if we want any chance of repeating as division champs. What was exciting to see today was that this team knows what's on the line."

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