No. 1 Portland rolled to a straightforward victory over eight-seed Windham at the Portland Expo on Friday evening. The Bulldogs – defending state champs – grabbed an early lead and never let go, ultimately ousting the Eagles 57-50 on big contributions by Steve Alex and Amir Moss.

“We didn’t actually take care of the ball very well without Markus,” said Windham head coach Kevin Millington. Markus D’Andrea typically plays point guard for the Eagles, and is, as Millington put it, “really good.”

The loss of D’Andrea – who’s been injured – has manifested for Windham in increased turnovers, and Alex and Moss turned a pair of steals into four points to open the scoring. All too soon for Windham, the Bulldogs had built to an 8-2 lead. The Eagles called time-out, regrouped, and successfully stanched the bleeding, converting enough buckets to keep pace with Portland, if not to overtake them.

A straightforward victory is not the same thing as an easy victory, and Portland’s solid defense also proved crucial, as they managed to effectively shut down Windham’s Kevin Weisser – a perennial threat to any opponent.

Weisser had just five points in the bout, all of which came in the first half. He looked sharp to begin – stuffing Moss and then draining a three after the teams returned from the aforementioned time-out – but then fell somewhat silent until the late second.

On the other hand, training extra attention on Weisser meant that others among the Eagles’ skilled flock of shooters found additional openings: Troy Davis finished with 14 and Greg Gledhill, particularly dangerous underneath, added 13.

“We hung in,” said Millington of the action through two quarters. “We didn’t rebound, we didn’t take care of the ball, but we just played hard enough to hang in. Portland didn’t play their best at the beginning, and we got a shot. We thought if we could tighten things up in the second half…but they just went on that 10-or-so open run.”

With the score 23-18 at the half, Portland grabbed the momentum in the third quarter, building a 47-30 lead that looked like the end of Windham’s season for sure. But the Eagles fought back in the fourth: Gledhill, Davis and Co. strangled the Bulldogs’ scoring while adding some fiery baskets of their own.

In the end, though, Portland proved too tough, or the clock did, or both. Eagle Andrew Tanguay, who checked in for the final minute, drained a beautiful three in the waning seconds – to the delight of everyone in the building, regardless of their affiliation – but that only slashed Windham’s deficit to seven, and they fell at the buzzer, 57-50.

“It’s so hard to come back,” Millington said; “They’re defending Weisser and it’s hard to come back when you’re down to the No. 1 seed.”

“They’ve been the only team to do it all year,” Millington said, referring to the Bulldogs’ successfully shutting down Weisser. “He’s scored on every team in the league. Portland did it to him the first time, they did it to him this time; it’s just a tough matchup for him.”

Millington had praise for his other players as well. “Troy Davis played fantastic; he had some turnovers early, but he hit some shots and it was a good way to go out – in fact, all the seniors were decent, and I’m proud of them.”

Alex and Moss both finished with 16.

Windham retires for the year at 11-9; Portland advances to Friday night’s 7 p.m. semifinal versus Deering. That game takes place at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Windham’s Kevin Weisser grabs the ball and guards it against a pack of Bulldogs after a rebound.Windham senior Jack Giampino makes for the net.Windham’s Ryan Gorman splits a pair of Portland defenders.Greg Gledhill added 13 for Windham on Friday evening.Troy Davis led Windham with 14 against Portland on Friday night.Windham senior Andrew Tanguay launches a shot in the last minute of Friday night’s action against No. 1 Portland.

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