PORTLAND—Something about playing at the Portland Exposition Building seems to bring out the shooting accuracy of opposing teams.

Much to the chagrin of the Portland girls.

Saturday afternoon, the Bulldogs hung tough with visiting Windham early, only trailing by two points midway through the first quarter, but the Eagles closed the frame with three 3s and took a 20-9 advantage.

The Eagles then dominated the second period to the tune of 16-3 and held a 36-12 lead at halftime.

Windham didn’t relent in the third quarter either, going up, 55-14, and while Portland fought hard late, it never made a serious run as the Eagles prevailed, 61-28.

Windham made seven 3-pointers, placed three different players in double figures, gave coach Brody Artes his 100th victory and improved to 10-6 on the season, handed the Bulldogs their 11th straight loss and dropped them to 2-14 in the process.


“We shoot really well here,” Artes said. “I’d love to play a few more games here. The girls were in rhythm, they were confident and they didn’t hesitate. That’s what we need and hopefully that will propel us.”

Can’t-miss kids

Portland started the season in promising fashion with a 44-35 home win over Lewiston, then lost at Bonny Eagle (45-32), Hampden Academy (47-24) and Cheverus before holding on for a 47-43 victory at Deering Dec. 22. The Bulldogs’ skid then began with a 53-44 home loss to Edward Little and continued at Oxford Hills (63-24), at home against Cheverus (64-38), Thornton Academy (60-29) and Oxford Hills (65-32), at Windham (48-30), at home against Falmouth (54-50), at Lewiston (42-40), at home against Bangor (56-18) and at Edward Little (53-44).

Windham, meanwhile, is a step below the three Class AA North powers, Bangor, Cheverus and Oxford Hills, but has enjoyed a solid season regardless, overcoming a 3-4 start with victories in six of its last eight outings, including a 43-32 triumph at Lewiston Thursday.

In the teams’ first meeting Jan. 18, the host Eagles scored 38 of their 48 points in the middle quarters, as senior Abbey Thornton led the way with 13 points.

Saturday, Windham featured a balanced attack and gradually pulled away.


Portland junior Emma Shaw and Windham sophomore Stella Jarvais contend for the opening tip in the Eagles’ 61-28 victory Saturday. Hoffer photos.

Junior Mallory Muse scored on a putback 19 seconds in to give the Eagles the early lead, but junior Ainsley McCrum countered with a layup, then senior Eliza Stein took a pass from sophomore Baleria Yugu and drained a 3 to put the Bulldogs in front.

After Thornton set up sophomore Stella Jarvais for a layup, senior Kylie Garrison took a pass from senior Elizabeth Levesque and made a layup, but with 5:01 to go in the opening stanza, a bank shot from junior Inas Alaari made it 7-6 Portland.

And that would be as good as it got for the home team, as the Eagles closed the quarter on a 14-2 run to seize control.

With 4:04 left, a 3-ball from Garrison put Windham ahead to stay.

Freshman Brianna Duarte then added a 3, forcing Bulldogs coach Abby Hasson to call timeout.

It helped momentarily, as Yugu drove for a layup, but Duarte drained a 3 and freshman Neve Ledbetter added a 3 before Ledbetter got a runner to drop at the horn for a 20-9 advantage.


Jarvais opened the second period with a layup, off a feed from Levesque, then Ledbetter made a free throw, Ledbetter sank a 3, Muse drained a 3 from the corner, Garrison sank a 3-ball, then with 2:05 on the clock, Ledbetter stole the ball, raced in and made a layup to make it 34-9.

With 1:10 to go, junior Lucy Tidd made a foul shot to end the 22-0 run and a 10 minute, 25 second drought.

After Jarvais sank two free throws, a short jumper from junior Emma Shaw cut Portland’s deficit to 36-12 at halftime.

In the first 16 minutes, Ledbetter led the way with 11 points, while Garrison added eight.

The Eagles continued to pull away in the third quarter, scoring the first eight points of the second half.

Portland sophomore Baleria Yugu defends Windham freshman Neve Ledbetter.

Garrison got things started with a layup, then Thornton hit a baseline jumper before Muse converted a runner in the lane and Garrison banked home a shot to make it 44-12.


Yugu made a leaner for the Bulldogs’ first points of the second half, but Levesque countered with a long jumper, Muse scored on a putback, Levesque converted an old-fashioned three-point play (putback, foul, free throw), Jarvais scored on a runner, then Muse scored on the run for a 55-14 advantage heading to the fourth period.

There, Portland had its best quarter of the game, but it was far too-little, too-late.

Tidd opened the final stanza by banking home a 3, but Ledbetter set up Muse for a layup, then Duarte made a layup after a steal.

The Bulldogs then closed the game on an 11-2 run.

Stein got things started with a 3, senior Annie Pozzy drove for a layup, Stein made a free throw, then hit a 3, then freshman Lili McCullum accounted for her team’s final points with a bank shot.

In the final minute, Eagles freshman Kendra Eubanks drove for a layup and that brought the curtain down on Windham’s 61-28 victory.


“It’s been a struggle for us at times this year to hit from the perimeter, but we did a good job staying positive,” Artes said. “I thought our intensity on the defensive end got us going offensively early in the game. That was really good to see.”

Muse had a game-high 13 points, along with three rebounds and a pair of steals. Garrison tallied 12 points, to go with four rebounds and two assists. Ledbetter had 11 points off the bench and also produced four rebounds and three steals.

“Neve played great, especially early on,” Artes said. “She hit a couple shots and that got her going and defensively, she really locked down and did a good job.”

Duarte had eight points (and two steals), Jarvais also had eight points (to go with five rebounds, two assists and two steals), Levesque added five (to go with three assists and a pair of steals) and Eubanks (five rebounds) and Thornton (three assists, three rebounds) had two apiece.

“We’ve been balanced all year,” Artes said. “For the most part, we have four or five girls between eight and 12 points and that’s good team basketball.”

The Eagles had a 30-29 rebound advantage, overcame 17 turnovers and made 4-of-8 free throws.


After the win, Artes reflected on his milestone.

“It just means I’ve been fortunate to coach some really good players,” he said. “The kids have been fantastic. This is one of my better groups this year. They’re just fantastic kids. Hopefully there will be many more wins to come.”

Portland was paced by Stein’s 10 points. She also had two assists, two rebounds and two steals. Tidd and Yugu (three steals) both had four points, while Alaari (six rebounds), McCrum (four rebounds), McCullum, Pozzy and Shaw (five rebounds) all added two.

The Bulldogs turned the ball over 14 times and made just 2-of-12 foul shots.

“This is a team that doesn’t quit, which I tell them will pay dividends at some point, be it this year, next year or the year after,” Hasson said. “They stay positive and they stay together. We only have one kid who has played significant varsity minutes, but it’s a group that wants to work hard and get better. It’s hard to keep pace when the other team makes shots. We’re a young team and when the pressure comes, we tend to panic a little bit. We break the press half the time and turn it over half the time.”

Playoff push 


Windham (currently ranked fourth in the Class AA North Heal Points standings) closes the regular season with home games versus Morse Tuesday and Cheverus Thursday of next week.

“We’re trending in the right direction,” said Artes. “We had a tough schedule early and played good teams on the road. We needed to take care of business at home and we did. We’ve just got to continue to climb the ladder and get better every day. Cheverus is playing really great right now. They’re the defending state champs. They’ll be a good playoff tune-up. All three of them (Cheverus, Bangor and Oxford Hills) have very, very good players and they’re well coached. For us, we just have to make shots. Hopefully we’ll get past that hump.”

Portland (clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in Class AA North) is home against Deering Tuesday, then closes at South Portland next Thursday, as Hasson coaches against her mother, Red Riots coach Lynne Hasson.

“We can only control what we can control,” said Abby Hasson. “We’re still playing for that (final playoff) spot. We have two huge games next week. We’re excited for them. They’re winnable games.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net.

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