WINDHAM–The Scots took home a hard-fought, narrow win when they dropped in on the Eagles on Friday night, Dec. 28: Zach Maturo – one of the conference’s best – led the way with 25 as Bonny Eagle topped Windham 49-48 in a thrilling tug-of-war.

“It’s a rival game; they love playing against us, we love playing against them,” said Windham head coach Chad Pulkkinen. “So it’s always going to be a fight, no matter what the teams have for talent or players. Our guys, defensively, played really well; we’ve played really well on the defensive side all year. For us, it’s just a matter of clicking. A lot of guys haven’t played with each other.”

“We knew it was going to be a battle, we knew they had tough kids,” Bonny Eagle head coach John Trull said. “Expected some sort of zone, they gave us a two-three. They have long, athletic guys, and we’ve been repping a lot of zone stuff in practice, and the guys really made some plays.”

Windhamite Kaleb Cidre initiated the scoring with quick offensive rebound for two; Bonny Eagler Cam Gardner momentarily seized the lead with a three, but Eagle Dierhow Bol took it back with another o-reb and a two underneath. Maturo knocked down a three and then a pair of frees for 8-4, but Cidre made it 8-6.

The board read 9-6 at the dawn of the second, but Maturo cranked it forward to 12-6 with another three. Ivan Kaffel responded with a three of his own for 12-9; Maturo and Kaffel traded threes again after that, before Cidre hit a two for 15-14. Cam Brown pushed Windham out front 17-15 and Maturo flipped things yet again, this time to 18-17. Eagle Andrew Wing hit a two for 19-18, and by the half the score stood 21-21. 

Phew.

The Scots jumped out front 27-23 at the start of the third on threes by Maturo and Jake Humphrey; Windham caught up when Wing turned a steal that led to a Bol offensive rebound for two and Chris Naylor dropped in another two for 27-27. Will Hendrix put the Scots ahead 33-30 to close the third.

Pulkkinen praised a few of his athletes. “Ivan played really well for us off the bench; Chris played extremely hard, and does all the little things for us – rebounding and effort plays. Kaleb did a good job on the defensive side. Everyone, for the most part, played their role.”

Cidre hit a two at the start of the fourth, but Maturo responded in kind; the teams moved to 38-36 on a Bol two and a Maturo three. A Wing steal resulted in a Cidre bucket for 40-40, but then Bonny Eagle inched ahead again at 44-40. The Scots held onto their narrow advantage at 47-43 – Maturo hit a pair of frees to make it happen – and then at 49-45.

“Hitting shots early, and guys getting confidence that way,” Trull said, asked what he thought the difference-maker was in the end. “Us being able to move the ball, and make some adjustments…And then, making free-throws down the stretch.”

With 6.4 seconds to play, Windham called timeout, but upon their return to the court they couldn’t make up the ground they needed to make up. Eric Weisser dropped in a last-second three for the Eagles, but then the buzzer buzzed and Bonny Eagle breathed a collective sigh of happy relief.

Trull applauded Maturo’s work. “Great performance from him. He’s played well all season. He’s a guy that’ll make shots for us, get shots for other guys, play defense. He’s passionate. We rely on him for a lot of things, and he stepped up big tonight.”

Trully nodded to some of his other boys as well: “Will Hendrix played well inside the zone; Jake Humphrey had a couple big threes; Cam Gardner hit a three early; Nate Ferris did a great job defensively. We had Keegan Meredith came in off the bench in the second half…just a lot of guys. Guys are ready to step up on this team.”

Bonny Eagle, now 5-1, hosts Deering on Wednesday the 2nd, then Biddeford on Friday the 4th. Windham, now 1-5, welcomes Massabesic on New Year’s Eve, and Thornton on Friday the 4th.

“We had a tough start to the season with our schedule,” Pulkkinen said; “a lot of teams 5-0, 5-1, whatever. Tonight, the difference was just a couple extra effort plays that went their way…That’s taking a charge, or not turning the ball over, or getting a loose ball, or getting that extra rebound…Sometimes you lose that way. Our guys never stopped fighting, they tried their hardest, played with great sportsmanship, and that’s all I can ask for.”

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

Zach Maturo curls inward on the attack. Maturo tallied 25 points for the Scots in their victory.

Zach Maturo reverses a ball toward the net, trailed through the air by an Eagles defender.

Will Hendrix takes to the air for the Scots.

Windham’s Kaleb Cidre and Bonny Eagle’s Cam Gardner clash.

Chris Naylor pushes inward on the attack for the Eagles.

Andrew Wing surveys his attack options.

Ivan Kaffel fights for a route to the backboard.

Kaleb Cidre battles for the net.

Dierhow Bol lofts up a shot for the Eagles.

Jake Humphrey fires off a free-throw.