By Jim Manion | Correspondent
It's always nice to get that first tournament game out of the way.
The second season for Windham has begun and, despite what most Bombers fans may call an ugly victory, it does go down in the books as a win. The Bombers (21-2) turned up the defense but showed little offense in a 57-43 victory over Vienna Mathews.
Windham advances to the Warren Division IV District semifinal Tuesday night at Warren Harding High School, and will face either Cortland Maplewood or Mineral Ridge at 6 p.m.
Mathews is a member of the Northeastern Athletic Conference that Windham will join next season. There are six members of the NAC in the Warren Tournament.
It was apparent early that the Windham defense was tuned in to controlling the tempo of the contest. Applying full-court pressure, the Bombers created 20 first-half turnovers by the Mustangs. Seventeen of those turnovers were Windham steals.
The Bombers continued to pick off pass after pass and made it look like a game of hot potato by the Mustangs offense that likes to slow the game down. However, Windham could not convert many of the takeaways into points. The Bombers had eight steals in the first quarter, but only one of those put points on the board. They did convert three of nine steals in the second quarter.
Windham gained a slow 7-2 advantage to open the game and held a 9-4 lead after one quarter. The Bombers outscored Vienna 11-5 in the second quarter and held a 20-9 lead at intermission.
"The frustrating thing offensively was that the things we worked on we didn't do tonight, we just stood around," said Bombers coach Marty Hill. "I thought the second half we did a good job and we got some easy shots. The defense was good the whole game. We turned it up a notch when we saw how they wanted to slow things down. We mixed up our defenses and our half-court stuff worked well."
The Bombers opened the second half with nine straight points when Cameron Pozsgai and Matt Knight both drove to the basket for scores. Pozsgai was fouled the second time he went inside and converted a three-point play for a 29-9 lead early in the second half.
Windham outscored the Mustangs 20-10 in the third quarter and went up 40-19, then stretched the lead to as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter. Stephen Kacenski, listed at 6-foot-2, put an exclamation point on the win when he skied above the rim for a monster dunk that gave the Bombers a 46-23 advantage with 6:02 left in the game. Kacenski finished the game with eight points and five steals.
The Bombers finished the game with 27 steals, as Pozsgai led the team with eight. The 6-2 senior also had 14 points and seven rebounds. Senior guard Matt Knight also scored 14 points, while Jared Taylor finished with eight.
"I told the kids following the game that as we get deeper down the road these teams will be better ball-handlers, and we just can't depend on our defense," added Hill. "We have to execute our offense better. I thought we hurried tonight when we had some of those steals. We missed a lot of layups. We really didn't take a lot of bad shots, we just couldn't make anything. I like to take a bye because I'd hate to see someone get hurt, but sometimes that makes too much practice at this time of the season."
Wyatt Ford led the Mustangs (9-13) with 16 points, while Aaron Suchanek scored 12 and Andy Morgan chipped in with seven points and seven rebounds.