Maplewood hands Windham first loss

WINDHAM – In an aesthetic sense, you might say the Maplewood Rockets’ 66-60 win over the Windham Bombers had a face that only a mother could love.

While the Northeastern Athletic Conference girls’ game Monday displayed some nice passing and pinpoint shooting, there was also enough sloppy action to keep both coaches busy in practice.

“I liked the outcome, but I didn’t like a lot of things that happened during the game,” Rockets coach Mark Yoder said.

There were 41 combined turnovers (21 by the Rockets and 20 by the Bombers). Maplewood was called for traveling several times to the obvious disgust of Yoder.

The Rockets (5-1) worked their way through the problems and played well at critical times, especially after falling behind by three points (55-52) early in the fourth quarter. Maplewood eventually regained the lead at 58-57 on a pair of free throws by Brooke Dawson. Windham’s Dari Heller, who scored 25 points, tied the score with one free throw, but Dawson made two more from the line to give the Rockets the lead for good.

Maplewood all but sealed the win when point guard Miranda Sloan stole the ball off the dribble of Jessica Isler and was fouled on a drive to the basket. Sloan, who led the Rockets in scoring with 23 points, made both free throws to extend the lead to 63-58.

Sloan played well on both ends. She made eight fielders, including a pair of 3-point shots.

“As a team we take pride that our defense wins our games,” Sloan said. “That last play just kind of put a close on the game.”

It was a big win for Maplewood. Yoder expected the Bombers (3-1) to shoot well on Marty Hill Court, which put pressure on the Rockets to handle the challenge of playing on the road.

“We know they play really well in their gym,” Yoder said. “You always shoot better when you’re in your gym. I said, ‘You guys have to close out and get a hand up and contest shots. Man, the first quarter it looked like we were headed for a 100-point night because neither team seemed like they could miss. Mostly it was because they were taking open shots and making them.”

Yoder switched from a man-to-man defense to a match-up zone. The Bombers, who scored 25 points to lead by two points after one quarter, scored 10 in the second period, 17 in the third and eight in the fourth.

The Rockets, who led 39-35 at halftime, continued to struggle with turnovers after the first quarter. Some came on errant passes, and there were more traveling calls.

“Lately we’ve been having turnovers that shouldn’t be happening,” Sloan said. “We’re going to start working harder at it at practice.”

Isler joined Heller to give the Bombers a potent one-two scoring punch. Isler finished with a game-high 26 points, making all five of Windham’s 3-point shots.

“It was a good high school basketball game,” Bombers coach Gregg Isler said. “Overall we have things to work on, but I’m pleased overall.”

Morgan Hansel scored 15 points for the Rockets. Dawson, who was whistled for two quick fouls early in the game, added 12.

Fortunately, for Yoder, he didn’t need a big scoring night from Dawson. Sloan took care of that assignment.

“She has quick feet and good hands on defense,” Yoder said. “She probably has the best hands of any player I’ve ever coached.”

Windham is at Marlington Wednesday. Maplewood plays at Badger Thursday.