By Jim Manion | Correspondent
The Windham Bombers clinched at least a share of their 20th league title Friday night at Mogadore in a game that definitely featured the two best teams in the Portage Trail Conference County Division.
Windham played almost a perfect first half to run out to a 22-point halftime lead before turning back the Wildcats in the fourth quarter, when that lead was cut to five points. The 65-52 victory gives the Bombers (18-1, 12-0 PTC County) a two-game lead over Mogadore with two division games remaining. The championship is the first for Windham since 2006-07.
"The kids actually weren't too excited after the game," said Windham head coach Marty Hill. "They talked at the beginning of the year about leaving the league by winning every game, and they know we still have two tough games (left). We knew that these Mogadore kids would not give up even being down like that at the half. We made some good decisions in the fourth quarter to pull this out."
The Bombers offense blitzed Mogadore (14-3, 10-2 PTC County) in the first half and finished the game with 19 assists. The same names show up every night in the box score for Windham, with Cameron Pozsgai leading the way both in scoring and rebounding. His monster night on the boards saw the 6-foot-2 senior grab 14 rebounds while also scoring 18 points, and he also had four assists.
Matt Knight, running the point for the Bombers most of the evening, scored 16 points while sophomore Parker Rickey hit for 12 points and also pulled down nine rebounds. Stephen Kacenski scored nine points and had eight rebounds.
The Bombers took a quick 4-0 lead and never trailed in the contest. Windham committed only two turnovers in the first half.
Pozsgai hit a 3-pointer with 5:40 on the first-quarter clock to give his team a 7-2 lead. He then grabbed a rebound the next trip down the floor and hit Kacenski with a perfect alley-oop fastbreak pass for another score. Pozsgai then scored off an inbounds play and hit another basket on a perfect assist from Parker Rickey as the Bombers led 17-11 at the quarter.
The Bombers defense tightened up in the second quarter and held the Wildcats to only six points. A pair of steals by Kacenski and Knight gave the Bombers two quick fastbreak baskets. Jonah Konzen and Jake Viebranz both entered the game for Windham and scored a pair of buckets in the paint on perfect inlet passes by the Bombers guards.
Windham closed out the first half on a 22-4 run and led 39-17 at intermission.
"I thought Matt Knight played one of his best games, especially in the first half. He made some clutch shots tonight," added Hill. "They are fun to watch when they are passing and moving the ball."
Mogadore didn't waste any time getting back in the game. The Wildcats outscored Windham 22-8, as the Bombers had five straight turnovers to open the second half. Hunter Van Camp, who finished with five 3s for the Wildcats, led the attack. He hit a pair of 3s in the third quarter to cut the deficit to only eight at 47-39 entering the final stanza.
An Austin Mahoney 3 to open the fourth quarter cut the lead to only 47-42. However, Windham went on an 8-2 run with only two minutes remaining to take the advantage back up to 12 at 60-48.
"We picked up our aggressiveness and physical play in the second half. We had to or we were going to get run right out of the gym," said Mogadore head coach Russ Swartz. "I'm proud of our kids the way they responded, to cut it all the way to five, and then we had a 3 go in and out.
"That is why Windham has not lost, they have a lot of weapons. I think that might be the closest game they had this year other than their loss, so I'm real proud."
Van Camp finished the night with 19 points, while Mahoney and Morris both knocked down 14. Van Camp was the leading rebounder for the Wildcats with six.