After a six-year absence, Windham’s girls’ basketball team is heading back to Cross Insurance Arena.

And Thursday’s victory in the Class AA North quarterfinals couldn’t have been any sweeter for the Eagles.

Five days after a controversial last-second loss at Cheverus in the regular-season finale, No. 5 Windham traveled back to Keegan Gymnasium to face the fourth-seeded Stags, and again the game went down to the wire.

But this time, it was the Eagles who made the biggest plays down the stretch en route to a 49-44 victory.

Sarah Talon tied the score with a three-point play, then iced the victory with three free throws in the final 16 seconds as Windham (12-7) advanced to meet top-ranked Oxford Hills, the defending state champion, in the semifinals next Thursday.

“(Saturday’s loss) was big, a blessing in disguise for us,” said Windham Coach Brody Artes. “We were expecting some pressure that we saw in the fourth quarter Saturday, and I thought we did a good job handling it.”

The first quarter featured a pair of ties and two lead changes. Cheverus (11-8) missed all seven of its 3-point attempts but trailed only 10-9 after a late layup from Lauren Jordan.

In the second quarter, foul trouble affected both teams and didn’t allow either to get into a flow.

The Stags went up 16-12 on a 3-pointer by Jordan (Cheverus’ lone made shot from behind the arc in 17 first-half attempts), but Windham responded with consecutive 3s from Hannah Talon and Destiny Potter. One free throw from Lillie Singleton and a pair from Maeve Kelly put Cheverus ahead 22-21 at halftime.

Windham shot to a 28-22 lead early in the third quarter on a 3-pointer from Carly Morey, but Jordan and Julia Kratzer hit 3-pointers to allow Cheverus to cling to a 33-32 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.

There, the game was tied twice, 35-35 and 38-38. Abbey Thornton made a layup to put Windham in front, but Singleton, the hero in the regular-season finale, made a 3-pointer for Cheverus. When Jordan sank two foul shots with 1:46 to go, the Stags were ahead 43-40.

Sarah Talon then made the biggest play of the night, tying the score with a layup and free throw with 1:01 remaining. Morey soon gave the Eagles the lead for good with two free throws.

Jordan got a point back at the line, but after a Morey free throw, Sarah Talon hit two to make it a four-point difference, then added one more.

“Words can’t explain what just happened,” said Sarah Talon, who finished with 11 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots. “Our number one goal from the start of the season was to get to (Cross Arena).”

Morey led the Eagles with 12 points. Hannah Talon also reached double figures with 10 points.

Cheverus got 15 points from Jordan, but couldn’t make enough shots when it mattered.

“It was an unbelievable effort,” said Cheverus Coach Billy Goodman. “Kids dove on the floor and got rebounds, but our shots just didn’t go in. I couldn’t ask for more as a coach.”

 

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