BOX SCORE

Portland 65 Windham 53

W- 13 9 15 16- 53
P- 17 13 21 14- 65

W- Mannette 7-3-20, Garrison 6-4-16, Dickson 3-2-9, Emery 2-0-4, Bowen 1-0-2, Wescott 1-0-2

P- W. Donato 6-4-16, W. Donato 5-3-14, Khamis 7-0-14, Cross 2-1-6, Johnson 2-0-5, Christensen 2-0-4, Toher 1-0-3, Veilleux 1-0-3

3-pointers:
W (4) Mannette 3, Dickson 1
P (5) Cross, W. Donato, Johnson, Toher, Vellieux 1

Turnovers:
W- 19
P- 17

FTs
W: 9-17
P: 8-17

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PORTLAND—Portland’s boys’ basketball team has impressed so far this winter, but one thing the Bulldogs have been lacking is a big offensive showing.

That changed Monday evening at the Portland Exposition Building.

Hosting Windham, Portland got four quick points from sophomore Jeissey Khamis and shot to a 9-2 lead before the Eagles settled in, but the Bulldogs were up, 17-13, after one period.

A quick 7-0 run to start the second quarter helped Portland get some separation and by halftime, the Bulldogs held a 30-22 advantage.

Portland started the second half fast as well and took a 51-37 lead to the fourth period, where it never led by less than 10 en route to a 65-53 victory.

Senior Wani Donato led the way with 16 points, while Khamis and junior Pitia Donato added 14 apiece as the Bulldogs scored their most points in three years, improved to 8-3 and in the process, dropped Windham to 2-8.

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“Windham never gave up and I didn’t expect they would,” said longtime Portland coach Joe Russo. “We had a nice start and the guys worked their butts off for 32 minutes. I’m very pleased we never gave up for one second. We can build on this.”

Filling the hoop

Portland started with a 42-40 home loss to Lewiston, then won at Bonny Eagle (45-41) and at Hampden Academy (63-42), rallied for a 44-41 victory at Cheverus, then downed host Deering, 45-40. A 47-41 home loss to reigning Class AA state champion Edward Little was followed by a nearly two-week hiatus before Portland returned to action with an impressive 45-36 home victory over reigning Class AA South champion Thornton Academy and an impressive 52-43 home victory over Oxford Hills. After falling at home to Cheverus, 46-42, the Bulldogs held off visiting Falmouth’s late rally Friday to prevail, 47-44.

Windham started with a 50-48 win at Gorham, then lost at home to South Portland (62-39), at Oxford Hills (80-71), at home to Lewiston (66-40) and at home to Edward Little (63-31). The Eagles got back in the win column by upsetting visiting Bangor (57-49), then lost at Thornton Academy (60-55), at home to Deering just before the horn (61-59) and at Edward Little (59-40).

The Bulldogs and Eagles didn’t play in the COVID-shortened 2021 season. Two years ago, they met twice, a 55-54 Portland win on the road and an 18-16 Windham victory at the Expo.

Monday, a lot more offense was on display and it was the Bulldogs who generated most of it.

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Portland senior Spencer Cross plays defense during the Bulldogs’ 65-53 victory Monday night. Hoffer photos.

Just 16 seconds in, after a steal, Khamis banked home a shot to put Portland on top to stay.

Khamis then took a pass from Pitia Donato on the fastbreak and made a layup.

“I think a fast start was very important,” Khamis said. ‘I knew I was on a roll when I got that first bucket.”

Pitia Donato then converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup after a steal, foul and free throw) before the Eagles got on the board when senior Will Mannette scored on a driving layup.

Khamis set up sophomore James Johnson for a layup, but freshman Creighty Dickson countered with a 3 for Windham.

After Pitia Donato hit a 3 in transition for the Bulldogs, senior Nick Garrison drove for a layup for the Eagles, but junior Brady Toher countered with a long 3 to make it 15-7.

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Windham finished the quarter strong, as Garrison scored on a contested layup, Garrison drove and banked home a shot and Mannette made a contested layup as well, but Portland got a layup from Wani Donato in the waning seconds for a 17-13 advantage after an eventful eight minutes.

The Bulldogs kept rolling in the second period.

Just 29 seconds in, Johnson set up Wani Donato for a layup. Johnson then found Khamis for a fastbreak layup after a turnover, then, with 6:48 to go in the half, senior Spencer Cross converted a three-point play to make it 24-13.

Garrison got a point back at the line, but senior reserve Aiden Christensen scored on a putback for Portland. After Garrison scored on a a leaner, Khamis drove for a layup.

Mannette drove for a layup for the Eagles, but Pitia Donato’s putback made it 30-18 Bulldogs with 1:52 left in the half.

That would be it for Portland’s offense in the half, however, and a 3-ball from Mannette and a Garrison free throw pulled Windham within eight, 30-22, at the break.

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In the first 16 minutes, Pitia Donato and Khamis had eight points apiece, while the Eagles stayed in it behind Garrison’s 10 points and Mannette’s nine.

The Bulldogs then looked to pull away in the third quarter, but Windham didn’t let it happen.

A mere 35 seconds into the second half, Wani Donato made a free throw. He followed that up with a driving layup, Pitia Donato made a layup after a steal, then with 5:51 to go in the third, a transition 3 from Cross put Portland up by the seemingly safe score of 38-22.

But the Eagles got a 3 from Mannette and after Johnson made a 3-pointer for the Bulldogs, Mannette made another 3.

Khamis countered with a layup, but Garrison made two foul shots.

Wani Donato then blocked a shot at one end and made a layup at the other before Khamis’ putback with 2:23 on the clock produced a 47-30 lead.

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After Mannette made a free throw, Pitia Donato hit a jumper to give Portland its biggest advantage.

Garrison then made a layup off a pass on an inbounds set from senior Colby Mizner, then Garrison banked home a runner. In the final minute, Khamis set up Christensen for a layup, then a driving layup from Mannette made it 51-37 heading to the fourth period.

There, the Bulldogs closed out their victory.

Freshman Drew Veilleux opened the final stanza with a 3-ball for the Bulldogs, but Dickson banked home a shot and Mizner set up senior Jakob Emery for a layup which cut Portland’s lead to 54-41 with 6:32 left.

Wani Donato answered with a putback, but Emery scored on a putback for Windham.

With 4:46 to go, Wani Donato took a pass from Khamis and made a layup, but Dickson made two free throws, then Dickson drove for a layup to cut the deficit to 58-47 with 3:41 on the clock.

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Khamis answered with a putback, then Wani Donato made a free throw before two more Dontao free throws essentially put it away.

Mannette countered with two foul shots and sophomore Erik Bowen and junior Chase Wescott made successive layups after steals for the visitors before two Pitia Donato free throws brought the curtain down on Portland’s 65-53 victory.

The Bulldogs’ point total was their largest since a 72-42 victory at Cheverus Jan. 18, 2019.

“(Windham) made a lot of runs, but we played good help-side defense and kept them from scoring,” said Khamis.

Wani Donato had a double-double of 16 points and a dozen rebounds, as well as three blocked shots. Pitia Donato (seven rebounds, four steals and three assists) and Khamis (five rebounds, three assists) both added 14 points.

“I just went to the short corner, posted up and scored,” Khamis said.

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Cross had six points, six rebounds and three blocks, Johnson five points, Christensen four and Toher and Veilleux three apiece.

The Bulldogs had a 41-21 rebound advantage and overcame 17 turnovers and 8-of-17 foul shooting.

Windham was led by Mannette, who had a game-high 20 points, and Garrison, who scored 16 points, as well as grabbed five rebounds, had four assists and two steals.

“Windham was down their big guy (senior center Matthew Fox) and I was impressed with (Garrison and Mannette),” Russo said.

Dickson had nine points, Emery four and Bowen and Wescott two apiece.

The Eagles committed 19 turnovers and only made 9-of-17 free throws.

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Long week ahead

Windham is back in action Tuesday at home versus Cheverus.

Portland, meanwhile, is in the midst of six games in nine days, a stretch that continues Tuesday at Lewiston. After going to Oxford Hills Thursday, the Bulldogs return home Friday to face Bangor. Portland and Windham play again next Monday in Windham, then the Bulldogs go to Edward Little the following day.

“We’ll keep working hard,” said Khamis. “We’ll play hard and have fun. I’d rather play than practice.”

“Our game plan this week is to have everybody,” Russo said. “I wanted tonight to get people in. We’ll need them tomorrow and Thursday and Friday. It’s good to get 10 guys ready for the tournament. It’s hard playing 94 feet with five guys. We need 10 bodies. We need to clean up some turnovers and some decision making. This week will be challenging because there are no games in our league that are easy. Everyone needs to contribute best they can.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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