February 17

Western Class A girls’ basketball: Windham upsets Thornton Academy

Haley Batchelder’s late basket lifts the Eagles to a 34-32 win.

By Steve Craig scraig@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Windham’s Haley Batchelder and the Thornton Academy girls’ basketball team felt the same way Monday at the Portland Expo – overwhelmed.

click image to enlarge

Sam Frost, right, and Luisa Sbardella hug after Windham beat Thornton Academy 34-32 in a Western Class A girls’ basketball quarterfinal Monday at the Portland Expo.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Batchelder was feeling joy and surprise; Thornton Academy was stunned by the sudden end of its season.

Batchelder’s basket with five seconds left gave the No. 7 Eagles a 34-32 upset of No. 2 Thornton Academy in a Western Class A quarterfinal.

“I wasn’t really thinking that I would end up shooting the game-winner,” Batchelder said. “I just felt overwhelmed.”

Batchelder scored eight of her 14 points in the fourth quarter, hitting hook shots with both hands as Windham (13-7) roared back from a 26-17 deficit.

Sadie Nelson also finished with 14 points, including a three-point play with 2:16 left that give the Eagles’ their first lead, 30-28, since early in the second quarter.

The winning play was designed with Nelson as the first option. When Thornton doubled Nelson off a pick-and-roll on the right wing, Batchelder flashed open.

“I knew they would think we’d want to get it to Nelson, but I wanted to get the ball to Batchelder,” Windham Coach Brody Artes said. “She had such a good game, it would be great to cap it off the way she did, and she came through.”

After Nelson’s three-point play, Thornton (16-3) tied it twice – on a putback by Olivia Shaw and two free throws by Abby Strickland (11 points) with 1:15 left.

Thornton had the ball with about 45 seconds left and a chance to play for a last shot. The Trojans had won several close games by making clutch plays, but a hurried shot by Katie McCrum was rebounded by Nelson with 25 seconds left.

“I’m just so sorry for these girls, the seniors, I just feel like I didn’t do the right things to put us in position to win,” Thornton Coach Eric Marston said. “I don’t feel like it’s real yet ... we’ve won every close game we’ve been in, and I just thought we’d find a way somehow.”

Windham will play No. 6 Cheverus (13-6) in a regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Thornton ran off eight straight points to take a 26-15 lead late in the third quarter, with McCrum, Strickland and Howe all getting baskets.

Windham slapped on a full-court press that raised the tempo in the fourth quarter and got a nice jump-start when Luisa Sbardella hit an outside shot – a rarity for both teams.

Neither team made a 3-pointer.

Thornton led 15-9 at the half, thanks mainly to making 9 of 10 free throws in the second quarter.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

scraig@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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