Ten months after they were ousted in overtime in the Class AA North basketball quarterfinals by Cheverus, the girls of Windham High returned to the same gymnasium in Portland looking for redemption.

“We talked about it before coming in to this game,” said Windham senior Meghan Hoffses, who had to watch her junior season end from the bench after fouling out in overtime last February after scoring 24 points. “We wanted to get our revenge.”

In the final minute of Friday night’s season opener, Hoffses delivered a tying 3-pointer and, with 2.8 seconds remaining, a winning layup to give the Eagles a stirring 38-36 SMAA victory.

It was the only lead of the game for Windham.

Trailing by seven entering the fourth quarter, Windham tightened its defensive pressure and outscored Cheverus 17-8 the rest of the way. Hoffses, who finished with a game-high 13 points, sandwiched a 3-pointer between two assists to senior Tara Flanders to make it a one-point game at 30-29 with five minutes remaining. A young Cheverus squad hung tough, however, and stayed ahead thanks to a jumper from freshman Julia Kratzer and a layup by Helena Bolduc.

Meg Kelly, the only senior for Cheverus, hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 52 seconds left to give the home team a 36-33 lead. Windham responded with a 3-point attempt from the right corner by Hoffses that caught iron.

“I was hoping one of my teammates would get the rebound,” she said, “but it hit off the front rim and just bounced right back to me, and I just put it right back up. It was really lucky.”

She made the most of her second chance, tying the game with 40 seconds remaining. Cheverus gave the ball to junior Lauren Jordan, who attacked the paint and drew a foul with 11 seconds left.

Her free throw attempt rimmed out, however. The Eagles rebounded, raced up court and Alanna Joyce fed Hoffses for the winning basket.

“It was an amazing comeback,” Hoffses said.

Kelly and Jordan, the lone veterans for Cheverus, each scored eight points.

“I don’t think anybody in the gym was expecting it to be as close as it was,” Kelly said. “Our competition level was so high. We had them. They were frustrated.”

Cheverus built a 22-18 lead at the half and then held Windham to three points in the third quarter.

Brian Heal, the team’s third head coach in three years, rotated in 11 players and pressured the Eagles into 15 first-half turnovers.

“That’s hard to do,” Heal said. “They’re an experienced team with several very good guards. I was very pleased with our effort and our energy all night. But they’re an experienced team, and they did the things they needed to do at the end and we didn’t.”

Flanders and Hannah Talon each had nine points for Windham.

“A lot of credit to Cheverus,” said Windham Coach Brody Artes. “We couldn’t match their intensity until that fourth quarter. We really cranked it up and that’s what brought us back into that game.”

 

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