GORHAM – Windham’s Nick Curtis posted a game-high 24 and teammate Mike Gilman followed closely with 20 – including six threes – as the Eagles battled past the Rams on Friday night, Jan. 6. The action remained neck-and-neck until the middle of the third, when Windham began building slowly toward a 66-55 victory.

“All week, we prepared for moving the basketball, getting good looks,” said Windham head coach Chad Pulkkinen. “Gorham runs a really good matchup zone, where it allows opportunities for our shooters if we move the basketball.”

“I thought we executed very well in moving the basketball,” Pulkkinen said, “getting the extra pass, getting the great shot that was needed tonight, and obviously we knocked some down, which helps.”

Gorham head coach Mark Karter complimented the opposition. “They have extremely good shooters,” he said. “The Gilman kid made a lot of shots, and Curtis is a very touch matchup, because he’s hard to contain and then he can find open shooters.”

Gorhamite Logan Drouin kicked off the scoring, knocking down a three early in the opening quarter. Gilman promptly responded with his own first three of the evening, before Curtis went to the line and Chris Brown drained another three to put the Eagles out front 7-3.

Windham maintained a narrow lead for the remainder of the stretch: Gilman looked particularly fiery, hashing another pair of threes as well as converting a steal into two, but Brown, Cory Hutchison and Hunter Coffin all tallied points for the Eagles as well. Gorham pursued their guests rabidly – Drouin, Kyle King, Jackson Fotter, Cam Wright and Jason Komulainen each contributed – but nevertheless found themselves down 21-18 at the buzzer.

The Rams had defended Curtis – one of the League’s premier point guards – admirably through those initial eight minutes, but that alleviated pressure elsewhere on the Eagles’ offense, freeing up Gilman to find his hot hand.

“Nick’s such a concentration for other teams,” Pulkkinen said, “that we get other guys involved, and Chris Brown hits some threes and Mike hits some threes, and we got some good looks inside the paint and some good effort off the bench. Really that just comes down to the week of preparation, and I think the guys did a good job concentrating on the game plan at hand. At the end of the day, it kind of worked out in our favor.”

“The shots [Gilman] took were really from deep,” Karter said, “and it took our guys a little bit to adjust, to make sure we got that extra half-step out on him. He’s a tough shooter, if you let him set his feet and shoot the ball. And they have that second threat, with Curtis; it’s pretty hard to contain both of them.”

Wright opened the second with a deuce, and Fotter nailed a pair of frees, seizing the lead for Gorham at 22-21. Curtis immediately answered, however, draining his first actual field goal of the night and putting his boys back on top at 23-22. Again the Eagles maintained control to the end of the quarter: Gilman dropped in another three, Curtis another two and three from the line, Nazari Henderson two and Dierhow Bol two, all for a halftime total of 35. Fotter, Drouin and Nick Strout, meanwhile, managed only to push the Rams to 30.

“We had a couple stretches where we didn’t do the things we wanted to do,” Karter said, “and you can’t do that against good-shooting teams. We let them stretch out their lead a little bit.”

Gorham began the third with yet another push. Komulainen and Wright added back-to-back twos to bring the Rams within one at 35-34, but the home team couldn’t quite overtake their guests a second time. They came close once more on Drouin points at 40-39, but Windham began their final inching-ahead after that. A Cam Holmes three brought Gorham as close, at 45-42, as they would get for the rest of the contest. Curtis, now with a full head of steam, added 10 in the third and six in the fourth en route to the Eagles’ eventual W.

“I think just staying aggressive,” Pulkkinen said, asked what allowed his boys to pry open an 11-point lead by the end of a game that had, for the most part, been quite tight. 

Pulkkinen went on to talk about some of the evening’s matchups. “We know Fotter’s a really good player, and keeping him in check tonight was a big deal for us,” he said. “I challenged Nick a little bit to really make sure doesn’t go off and become the guy tonight…It makes it tougher for Gorham to score without Fotter in the action.”

Karter praised Fotter’s work. “Jackson, he plays pretty much every minute of every game,” he said. “We ask a lot of him. I thought he played a real good game today.” 

Karter also applauded some of his other players. “I thought Logan played probably his best game, tonight: very competitive on both ends of the floor, and kind of kept us in it. He did a great job. Kyle King did a nice job on defense as well.”

Drouin finished the night with 20 for the Rams, Fotter with 11. Holmes added five, Strout four, Komulainen three, and King and Tom Nelson two apiece. 

Gorham dropped to 2-5 on the result; the Rams retain their standing – third at present – in AA South. The team hosts No. 2 Thornton (7-0) on Tuesday the 10th and No. 5 (in A South) Westbrook on Thursday the 12th. 

Beyond Curtis’s 24 and Gilman’s 20, Bol and Brown each added six for the Eagles. Henderson finished with five, Coffin with three and Cory Hutchison with two. 

Windham moved to 5-3. The Eagles are currently sixth in AA North; they welcome Massabesic (fifth in AA South, 1-6) on Thursday the 12th. 

“It’s a huge win for us,” said Pulkkinen. “Now we have five wins, and we don’t have any single-A’s on our schedule, so there’s no opportunity there to gain points; every win we try to get is in the double-A division. Gorham’s up there, and they’re going to be there in the end, in the South, and we know they’re going to get more wins. That’s pretty huge for us, so we can keep adding points up on our side to hopefully increase our chances of making playoffs and being there at the end.”

Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME

Dierhow Bol cuts along the baseline in pursuit of two; Logan Drouin defends.

Windham’s Nick Curtis led all scorers with 24 on Friday night.

Windham’s Chris Brown gets a hand on the ball as Gorham’s Kyle King unwinds into a shot.

Bryce Womack, on the attack for Gorham, backs through the Windham defense.

Gorham’s Cam Holmes skirts leaping Windham defender Hunter Coffin along the baseline.

Eagle Mike Gilman guards Ram RJ St. Cyr in the paint.

Gorhamite Jackson Fotter takes to the air.

Logan Drouin put up 20 – Gorham’s best tally – on Friday night.

Kyle King lofts up a shot for Gorham; Windham’s Cory Hutchison defends.

Jason Komulainen cuts inward along the baseline.

Windhamite Hunter Coffin ascends toward the net.