STANDISH—Meghan Hoffses seized control of Windham’s contest at Bonny Eagle on Thursday night, Feb. 8, tallying 19 en route to an Eagles’ upset. Despite owning an 11-point advantage at the start of the second half, the Scots soon stumbled while their guests remained standing. 46-43 the final.
“We didn’t execute the way we needed to,” Bonny Eagle head coach Scott Regan said. “It’s plain and simple. We missed countless shots in the first half. We should’ve taken care of business in the first half, and in the second it doesn’t get close like this. We missed layup after layup, putback after putback.”
“Hey, listen,” Regan said, “Windham played like they needed to win, like they wanted it more than we did tonight. They did a great job.”
“We’re so excited,” Hoffses said, asked about the win. “We’re extremely happy; we knew they were going to be a tough competitor, but we talked at halftime about who wants it more, who has the biggest heart. And we just came out and played 110 percent, and gave it our best. I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”
The Eagles got on the board first, Hoffses knocking down a quick two; Sam Averill shortly answered for the Scots with two from the line, but Hoffses stole and drove for 4-2, and Hannah Talon hit a free for 5-2. Bonny Eagler Mia Ferrante then dropped in a powerhouse, inside two for 5-4.
Play stayed tight, continuing to ricochet up and down the court. With the first winding down, Sanborn hit a two to make it 12-9, but Hoffses responded with a three before the buzzer could buzz, leaving things 12-12 at the break.
“Meghan plays with her feet so well,” said Windham head coach Brody Artes, “and she’s so quick. She has a good handle on the ball and she slips by people easily just because of her quickness…She’s so difficult to defend. And when she runs the floor for us and we can get her the ball in open court, she’s pretty lethal. She wanted this game a lot tonight; she was very amped up to play, and I think that spark really carried through the rest of the team.”
Asked what allowed her to explode, Hoffses credited her teammates: “Collectively, just moving the ball around,” she said.
“I guess I’m pretty quick,” she added, reluctantly. “So I just put it to them, and tried to get by them, and if I did happen to get by them, I’d try to pitch it out to someone else who had the better shot – or I’d take it, if I had it.”
Talon hashed a pair from the line to start the second; Scot Emma Abbott answered with two frees of her own, and Sanborn followed her with yet another free, ratcheting the scoreboard to 15-14, Bonny Eagle. Then Sanborn fouled Talon and – remarkably early, it seemed – sent play into bonus territory. Talon went two for one-and-one to flip the lead again, 16-15 Eagles.
Sanborn dropped in a sweet, spinning jumper from the paint next, and her girls inched out front 17-16. From there, the Scots began, slowly, to pull away: They battled to 21-18 on an Averill two, 25-20 on a long Abbott two and 27-20 on a couple Makala Greene frees at the close of the stretch.
Bonny Eagle continued to climb at the start of the third: Emery dished to Ferrante, who volleyed up a two from underneath, 29-20, and Sanborn drained a long two, 31-20. The Scots, now 11 points up, held all the momentum – but the Eagles were about to surge.
“Third quarter, we came out, we did a nice little run,” Regan said. “And then they took over. And we just didn’t react well. That’s my fault. I didn’t have them ready to play; I’ll take the heat for this one – any time you lose by three or less, that’s the coach, that’s not the team. I didn’t use my bench as wisely as I should’ve tonight.”
Tara Flanders kicked off the Eagles’ comeback push, slickly dumping an inbounds pass to Hoffses, who notched an immediate two from underneath. Sanborn fouled on Bonny Eagle’s next possession, turning the ball over. Flanders completed a three-point play; Hoffses converted on a Windham steal; Flanders knocked down two from the line. Suddenly, the Eagles trailed by a mere bucket, 31-29.
Averill and Hoffses traded twos before Averill added a free. But then the Scots accrued their seventh foul – an Averill foul; that’s seven fouls, on one team, in the first seven minutes of the third quarter. Thenceforward, Windham would head to the line every time Bonny Eagle fouled them.
But that meant the Scots needed to be scrupulously careful in their defense: No wiggle room remained to them, they had no fouls left to give. Windham capitalized. After Greene hit two frees for the Scots, the Eagles assembled another brief run. Talon added two twos, then assisted Tyler Files on a three. Files’s shot put Windham back on top, 38-37, at the start of the fourth.
Eagle Alanna Joyce proved especially clutch as the remaining time elapsed. First, she went two for one-and-one from to keep Windham on top 40-39. Then Hoffses interjected with a two, and Sanborn and Ferrante countered with back-to-back twos of their own, retaking the upper-hand for Bonny Eagle, 43-42. Those, however, would be the Scots’ final points.
“When you’re shooting double-bonus,” Regan said, “halfway through the fourth quarter, that really limits what you can do defensively…And anytime we got close, we got a foul. Then Mia’s got four fouls, so she misses half of the third quarter, half of the fourth quarter.”
“We’ve got to clean it up before next week,” Regan said.
“I was surprised at it,” Artes said of Bonny Eagle’s foul troubles. “[The officials] were calling some ticky-tack stuff early in the game. I said, ‘We’ve got to go out and just keep playing hard, because they’re going to blow the whistle. It’s going to go both ways.’ We did a good job; we talked at halftime about playing defense with our feet, making sure our hands were out to our sides…I said, ‘Win the game from the line,’ and that’s what we did.”
“We knew they were in foul trouble,” Hoffses said. “So we just needed to stay composed, settle down, keep them in front of us, and make sure that we didn’t foul…We needed to take care of the basketball, and run the clock out if we could.”
With time running out, Joyce drained two more from the line, 44-43. Bonny Eagle took possession, inbounded the ball and attempted to work it along the baseline; Windham stole, and the Scots stole back. Sanborn, awkwardly reeling in an offensive rebound, stumbled and – according to the officials – traveled. She thus turned over control.
22.3 seconds remained, leaving Bonny Eagle little choice but to foul – on purpose! Joyce stepped to the line yet again, and yet again pinned two tails on two donkeys: 46-43.
Regan called timeout. When the sides returned to the court, Emery and Sanborn managed to fire off one three attempt apiece, though neither girl looked all that set in her footing when she did it, and neither shot fell. The Scots somehow lofted up a couple last, increasingly desperate two attempts as well– but those balls also refused to sink, and time expired.
“Give Windham all the credit,” Regan said. “We tried to take out Talon, we tried to take out Hoffses…but they took care of business. They did what they needed to, and we just didn’t make it work tonight.”
Hoffses praised both Talon and Joyce. “Hannah always, when she gets the ball, and she goes to the basket, she goes hard. She either gets the foul, or the basket; she does a really good job at that. Alanna came in key with the free-throws when they were important. Good players make big plays in big games.”
“[Alanna] was big,” Artes said. “That’s a tight situation. For her to step up and make those free-throws and really seal the deal for us – I’m impressed by her poise at the end of the game, for sure.”
Talon finished with nine for the Eagles, and Joyce with eight. Flanders had seven and Files three. Sanborn hashed 14 for the Scots, and Abbott eight. Averill contributed seven, Emery six, and Greene and Ferrante four each.
The teams closed out their respective regular-season schedules with the bout. Windham improved to 9-9, and enters the postseason bracketing ranked fifth in AA North. They first face off with No. 4 Cheverus, whom they snuck past 46-43 (there’s a fun little coincidence) early in the season.
“We’ve been in most of our games this year; it’s just a matter of pulling it out,” Artes said. “But this was a big step for us. We weren’t able to close out early on. That was kind of the missing piece for us. Now we have some confidence, because we’ve done it, and it’s coming at the right time, moving into the playoffs.”
“We’ve got Cheverus,” Hoffses said. “We beat them the first time, but they’re a really competitive team. They’re going to be come at us with a vengeance – but we’re going to come back just as strong. These next few days we have of practices, we’re going to put in 110 percent.”
Bonny Eagle slips to 13-5; they sit squarely in third in AA South, and will therefore face Thornton (No. 6, at 5-13) in the quarters. The Scots topped the Trojans 42-31 when the two schools clashed in the regular season.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Sam Averill cuts inward for Bonny Eagle in their narrow loss to Windham.
Scot Emma Abbott harasses Windhamite Alanna Joyce.
Emma Abbot curls into the paint, on the attack for Bonny Eagle.
Mia Ferrante vies underneath for the Scots.
Eagle Emily Drummond battles in close with Deirdre Sanborn, a stalwart Scot.
Meghan Hoffses – battling for the bucket – barrels through a Bonny Eagle opponent.
Windahm’s Hannah Talon gets a determined hand on the ball as Bonny Eagle’s Deirdre Sanborn drives.
Bonny Eagler Mackenzie Emery guards Windhamite Emily Drummond.
Windham’s Tara Flanders gets air over Bonny Eagle’s Mackenzie Emery.