By john bassetti
It was another Windham-Warren JFK showdown and another disappointment for the Eagles, who came out on the short end to Windham, 50-49, in a Div. IV district championship game at Harding High’s gym Friday night.
It was a year ago that the same teams played for the district crown with the Bombers winning in double overtime.
They also played on Dec. 30 and Windham won, again, in double OT.
On Friday, with Windham ahead 48-45 and in possession of the ball, the Bombers would have been content to run down the clock and let JFK exhaust a few more fouls before, hopefully, benefitting from the 1-and-1 bonus situation.
Instead, Dominic Naples had a steal that led to Robert Seger’s layup and Naples grabbed a defensive rebound that led to Raitwaan Gaston’s layup to put JFK ahead, 49-48.
The Eagles could have closed it out, but missed the front end of two one-and-one attempts, giving Windham (15-8) one last opportunity to win, which it did when Cameron Pozsgai received a pass down low from Matt Knight and made a goal at the buzzer.
“At the end of the game, it helps to have two all-league players involved in that play,” Windham coach Marty Hill said of the clutch execution by Knight and Pozsgai.
Knight, who was recently chosen a first-team All-NEO player, reached 1,000 career points with 22 on Friday. Pozsgai was an All-NEO second-teamer.
“I told [JFK coach] Shawn [Pompelia] after the game that we got a lucky break by getting the ball inside and it went in,” Hill said. “You never know about those things because we hadn’t scored for three minutes. It wasn’t the smoothest game or the cleanest as far as working the way coaches want it, but when you get to this stage, sometimes that happens.”
The one-point victory margin could be laid to Windham making 10 of 11 free throws, while the Eagles went 6 of 11.
“Those two one-and-ones down the stretch — if we convert those — it’s a different game,” Pompelia said.
The JFK coach said he knew Knight was going to drive to the hoop.
“We made sure that we doubled him and we wanted to make sure also that we rotated over,” Pompelia said. “But life’s funny because that same spot on the floor, that pass on the low block, on Tuesday was reversed; we were the other team that was jumping up and down. Unfortunately, tonight, we’re not the ones cutting the nets down.”
Raitwaan Gaston had 15 points, 19 rebounds, three steals and two assists for JFK (8-16), while Seger and Naples scored 13 points apiece.