Windham headed to districts

WARREN – Playing all four years of his high school basketball career, there’s very little that Matt Knight has yet to experience on the basketball court, but during the Bombers’ opening tournament game against Mathews, he observed a first.

Windham held the Mustangs to nine points in the first half en route to a 57-43 win in the Division IV sectional finals at Warren G. Harding gymnasium.

“That’s a new one for us – nine points,” Knight said. “We were happy to see that.”

Windham’s 1-3-1 half-court defense caused most of the pressure, with the Bombers (21-2) trapping all over the floor. With this pressure, 20 of Mathews’ 29 possessions in the first half ended in turnovers.

“They tried to spread us out,” Windham coach Marty Hill said. “So, we actually trapped more than what we would have in the first half just to try and speed them up.”

Despite the Mustangs’ trouble on offense, Windham didn’t put the game to bed early.

The Bombers held a 20-9 lead going into halftime, thanks in large part to a 8-of-29 shooting performance. Windham players got steals and went on the fast break often, only to miss the easy layups.

“If we had shot the ball well, we could have ended the game by halftime,” Hill said. “We were a little bit out of sync. We missed some easy shots that we usually make.

Windham found its offensive rhythm in the second half, eventually blowing the game open.

The team made up for the lackluster first half with an alley-oop by Stephen Kacenski with 6:08 remaining in the fourth. The junior received Parker Rickey’s pass on his way up and hammered the ball through the net, sending the Windham crowd into a frenzy.

The only bad aspect came when Kacenski hung on the rim too long, earning a technical.

“For a dunk like that, to get a technical on it is a tough thing to see a teammate do that,” Knight said. “Coach wasn’t really mad at him it’s just a team rule to sit down after a technical. But it was exciting – definitely a momentum-changer.”

For Mathews (9-15), they rued going into the corners on offense and playing right into Windham’s hands. The team committed 28 turnovers in the game.

“You have to play an entire game against a team like that,” Mathews coach Jason Lee said. “We just went to spots that led to bad things. You go to the corners on a team that has two kids trapping you that are 6-foot-3, it’s going to be hard to get out of there.”

Windham return to action at Harding gymnasium against Maplewood in the district semifinals Tuesday at 6 p.m.