By Colin Harris | Staff Writer
The Bombers are going out with a bang.
Windham outlasted host Southeast 61-52 in a Friday evening slugfest to secure an outright PTC County Division championship in the program's final season in the league.
Now 13-0 in league play, only a date with Garfield next Friday stands between Windham and an undefeated County Division slate.
"Getting this win was big because we really didn't want to have to worry about playing (Garfield) next week to clinch the league," said Windham head coach Marty Hill. "Now we're going to have a chance to go for an undefeated league season, which is big (for the players)."
As for the game itself, Southeast played inspired basketball in front of a packed Senior Night crowd.
The Pirates held Windham (19-2 overall) well below its normal average in the first half, slowing the pace of the game down and limiting the Bombers to just 22 points.
The two teams traded the lead eight times in the half -- fueled by three first quarter 3-pointers from Southeast guard Jordan Krych and buckets by Bombers standouts Matt Knight (six points in first half), Parker Rickey (five) and Cameron Pozsgai (nine).
Hill said he was disapointed a little in his team's performance, but credited Southeast's intensity and preparation.
"Scoring 22 points is not a good half for us and I think part of it was poor shot selection and a real lack of movement on offense," Hill said. "But Southeast did a great job and you can't take that away. (Southeast head coach) Matt Dillon did a great job getting his kids ready to play this game and they were motivated on their senior night."
Windham tied the game at 29-29 in the third quarter on a Rickey 3-pointer with 5:19 remaining. Rickey followed that up by scoring on a turnover the next trip down the court Windham's lead, but the Pirates answered with a Nathan Simyak 3-pointer that gave Southeast back the lead.
The Bombers regrouped on the next possession, kicking off an 8-0 run that would give them a lead they would not relinquish. Jared Taylor scored on a three-point play to put Windham back ahead and Knight followed with consecutive buckets to put the Bombers ahead by six with 3:09 remaining.
Windham would stay in the lead the rest of the night, but Southeast (11-9, 8-5 PTC County) pulled as close as one point in the final minutes of regulation.
After a Krych bucket with three minutes remaining in regulation cut the Windham lead to 53-52, the Pirates allowed an offensive rebound to Jonah Konzen on the next posession.
Konzen knocked down the first of his two foul shots to extend Windham's lead, but Pozsgai was there to collect the arrant second attempt. Pozsgai was fouled on a shot attempt and knocked down both foul shots to give Windham a 56-52 lead with just 2:36 remaining.
With momentum firmly back on the Bombers' side, Windham scored the final five points of the game to seal the win.
Windham shot 18-of-24 from the foul line on the evening and 10-of-12 in the fourth quarter -- a fact that Hill said was most encouraging amidst a performance he described as "sloppy".
"That was a really hard-fought win for our guys," Hill said. "Down the stretch, I was really happy with the way we rebounded and the job that we did from the foul line."
Rickey finished with a 23 points to lead the Bombers in the win and was joined by Knight in double figures with 18 points.
Southeast was led by Krych, who topped all scorers with 24 points. Simyak knocked down a game-high 6-pointers and finished with 20 points for the Pirates.
Dillon said the loss was disappointing, but he ranked Friday night's game as one of the best he'd ever been on the sidelines for.
"I'm not sure there's anything I can do in my life that's more fun than tonight was," Dillon said. "The atmosphere was great and the kids played with great passion and energy.
"Windham deserves a lot of credit because they had an outstanding season and they deserved to win this league," Dillon added.