WINDHAM—Windham’s boys’ basketball team knew it was going to be good this winter.

So far, the Eagles haven’t just been good.

They’ve been perfect.

Tuesday evening, Windham hosted Cheverus in a compelling early-January showdown and after dramatic rallies from both squads, it took more than 32 minutes to determine a winner.

The Stags started fast, grabbing a 17-7 lead after one period and stretching it to 14 points early in the second quarter on consecutive layups from sophomore Jameson Fitzpatrick, but the Eagles settled in and pulled within 29-21 at the half behind a late 3-pointer from sophomore Tyrie James.

Windham then roared to life in the third period, closing on a 15-2 run, capped by a layup from sophomore Adrian Moody, for a 41-39 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.


There, the Eagles appeared poised to soar to victory when senior Blake McPherson drained consecutive 3-pointers to make it 54-47 with 3:17 to go, but Cheverus refused to buckle.

The Stags drew back within three, then with just 3.8 seconds on the clock, junior Leo McNabb was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer and McNabb coolly drained all three free throws to send the game to overtime tied, 55-55.

Windham wrested momentum right back at the start of the four-minute OT on consecutive baskets from junior Creighty Dickson and this time, didn’t surrender the lead, hitting six key free throws in the final minute to prevail, 67-62.

McPherson led all scorers with 24 points as the Eagles improved to 6-0 and in the process, dropped Cheverus to 6-2.

“We knew we were going to be good and now, we’re just proving it,” said McPherson. “Cheverus is so good. They played amazing.”

Another litmus test


Cheverus has been in the thick of the action ever since the season began. The Stags opened with a 58-49 home win over South Portland, then rolled past visiting Oxford Hills, 74-36, before holding winning at Thornton Academy, 66-64, Portland, 49-44, and Deering, 67-60. Cheverus fell from the unbeaten ranks last week, 59-51, at Scarborough, but bounced back to down visiting Lewiston, 70-53.

Windham was also highly touted entering the season and hasn’t disappointed. The Eagles started by downing visiting Lewiston (47-31) and Scarborough (49-41). After an 85-10 victory at Bangor, Windham closed the 2023 portion of its schedule by defeating visiting Bonny Eagle (69-53) and host Thornton Academy (52-40).

Last year, the Stags won both meetings, 65-53 in Windham and 68-38 at home.

Tuesday, Cheverus hoped to win its seventh straight in the series, but instead, the Eagles prevailed for the first time since Feb. 8, 2020 (46-39 in Portland).

But it took four extra minutes.

Cheverus junior Leo McNabb tries to get past Windham senior Blake McPherson (12) and senior Erik Bowen during the Eagles’ 67-62 overtime win Tuesday. Hoffer photos.

Windham opened the scoring when Dickson made a layup, but the Eagles wouldn’t lead again until well into the second half.


After the Stags tied it up on a leaner from senior Gio St. Onge, St. Onge set up McNabb on the fastbreak for a layup, freshman Nicola Plalum drove for a layup, then McNabb made another layup, from junior Sammy Nzeyimana, to make it 8-2.

Windham responded, as McPherson drained his first 3-pointer, from the corner, then Dickson hit a runner in the lane, but the final nine points of the frame went to the visitors.

Plalum got the run started with a 3, then McNabb drained a 3 before St. Onge sank a free throw and McNabb made a layup after a steal for his eighth and ninth points and a 17-7 advantage heading to the second quarter.

There, Fitzpatrick finished a feed from McNabb and made a layup, then with 7:04 on the clock, after a McNabb steal, Fitzpatrick converted another layup and Cheverus was on the brink of pulling away, up, 21-7.

But the Eagles stayed within hailing distance the rest of the half.

With 6:18 on the clock, a long 3-pointer from Moody snapped a 13-0 Stags’ run and Windham’s 4 minute, 58 second scoring drought.


After McPherson banked home a contested shot, junior Conor Janvrin banked home a runner and just like that, the deficit had been cut in half.

After Fitzpatrick answered with a layup (from Plalum), McPherson buried a 3, but junior Shema Rwaganje countered with an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) to put Cheverus back on top by a dozen, 29-17.

In the final minute, senior Quinton Lindsay made a free throw, then James took a pass from Moody and made a 3 in transition as time wound down to pull the Eagles within eight at the break.

The first half saw McNabb lead all scorers with nine points, while McPherson paced Windham with eight.

The Eagles then came out in the third period and surged into the lead.

Windham sophomore Adrian Moody is defended by Cheverus junior Leo McNabb.

After Dickson took a pass from Lindsay and made a layup on the fastbreak to open the second half, Fitzpatrick countered with a layup.


McPherson made a 3 to pull Windham within five, but St. Onge hit a jump shot, St. Onge set up junior Rocco DePatsy for a reverse layup, then Nzeyimana passed to St. Onge off an inbounds set for another layup and a 37-26 advantage with 3:36 to go in the frame.

But the rest of the quarter belonged to the Eagles.

McPherson got the rally started with a 3-ball and after McNabb made a layup for the Stags, Moody drove for a layup, McPherson stole the ball and set up Moody for another layup, then James took a pass from Moody and drained a 3 with 1:53 left and 31 seconds later, James set up Moody for a 3 which tied the score, 39-39.

Windham wasn’t done, as the James-to-Moody connection resulted in a layup with 45 seconds showing and the home team enjoyed a 41-39 lead heading to the final stanza.

Or what everyone thought would be the final stanza.

McPherson took a pass from Lindsay and made a layup 10 seconds into the fourth to cap a 17-2 run before a driving layup from Nzeyimana snapped Cheverus’ 4:21 drought and made it a two-point game again.


After James stepped back and buried a 3, McNabb hit a runner in the lane, but James fed McPherson for a layup and with 5:50 remaining, the Eagles were up, 48-43.

The Stags answered and pulled within a point on a spinner off the glass from McNabb and a Fitzpatrick fastbreak layup (from St. Onge), but with 4:19 left, McPherson countered with a 3 and a minute later, he drained an even longer 3-point shot for a seemingly safe 54-47 advantage.

“I guess I was feeling it,” McPherson said. “They were going in, so I kept shooting.”

Cheverus would rise off the deck, however, and ultimately extend the game.

After Plalum sank a 3 with 3:05 to go, a short jumper from senior Maddik Weisberg pulled the Stags within 54-52.

Cheverus had chances to tie it or go ahead, but McNabb missed a 3 and St. Onge was twice off the mark.


With 18 seconds to go, Dickson went to the line with a chance to ice the victory, but his first free throw was no good. Dickson hit his second attempt, but it remained a one possession contest.

After Stags coach Richie Ashley called timeout with 8.2 seconds remaining, Cheverus got the ball to McNabb in the corner. McNabb was fouled while shooting a 3 and he almost got his desperation heave to find the mark, as it banked off the backboard before rimming out.

With just 3.8 seconds on the clock, McNabb then stepped to the line with a chance to tie it.

With the partisan crowd doing everything it could to distract him, McNabb calmly sank the first free throw, then buried the second and the third as well.

Cheverus junior Leo McNabb makes one of his three clutch free throws to tie the score.

And just like that, the game was deadlocked, 55-55.

Windham had a chance to win it at the horn, but James’ contested 3 was off the mark.


Despite conceding momentum, the Eagles couldn’t have asked for a better start to overtime, as they won the tip to Lindsay, who passed to Dickson for a layup with just three seconds elapsed.

And this time, Windham would hold its lead.

After St. Onge missed a potential go-ahead 3, Dickson was fouled, but he missed both attempts.

At the other end, St. Onge went to the line, but he too missed his free throws.

With 2:50 left in OT, after a McPherson miss, Dickson putback the rebound for a 59-55 advantage.

Eleven seconds later, McNabb countered with a 3, but after a McPherson miss was rebounded by Moody, Lindsay drove for a layup with 1:54 showing to make it 61-58.


Cheverus again made it a one-point contest when St. Onge made a layup after a steal with 1:02 to go, but seven seconds later, Janvrin was fouled and he went to the line and made both shots for a 63-60 lead.

After DePatsy missed for the Stags, McPherson got the rebound, but Cheverus got the ball back on a diving steal from Nzeyimana.

It didn’t result in points, however, as Plalum was off target on a potential game-tying 3 and Dickson got the rebound.

Windham was able to run the clock down to 16.4 seconds when James was fouled. He made both shots and Cheverus was on the brink.

McNabb was again fouled on a 3-point attempt five seconds later, but his first attempt rimmed out before he hit the next two shots for the Stags’ final points of the night.

Then, with just 7.2 seconds to play, Lindsay was fouled and he iced the victory by hitting both free throws.


At 8:39 p.m., the horn sounded and the Eagles were able to exhale and celebrate their 67-62 triumph.

Windham celebrates its win.

“(Going to overtime) was nervewracking, but we kept our composure and pushed through it and got the (win),” McPherson said. “We tried to make the best of it and scrapped and got it in the end. We just had to keep our composure and not allow the crowd or the other team to get us down. We had to keep it going.”

“Our guys just don’t give up,” said Windham coach Chad Pulkkinen. “We’ll be in every game because of that. They fight hard. They stick together. They’re really tight-knit. We just worry about the next play and the guys did a good job of that. We made some mistakes in regulation and we made some mistakes in overtime, but we battled.

“We treated overtime like a new quarter, 0-0. We play a lot of four-minute games in practice and we treated it like that. I’m proud of how we responded. I’m not surprised, just thankful for the guys and the opportunities we get.”

McPherson made six 3-pointers and led Windham with 24 points. He also had six rebounds.

Moody added 12 points, three rebounds, three steals and a pair of assists. Dickson had 11 points (and seven rebounds) and James also wound up in double figures with 11 points off the bench (to go with five assists). Lindsay had five points (six assists and five rebounds) and Janvrin tallied four points.


“We’re super unselfish,” said Pulkkinen. “We move the ball and the ball finds our best players. We don’t rely on one guy.”

Windham only turned the ball over 15 times and made 8-of-16 free throws (after missing eight of their first 10).

The Stags were paced by McNabb, who excelled with 23 points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds.

“You cannot criticize Leo,” Ashley said. “Of all our players, he came out and played hard and played well for 36 minutes.”

Fitzpatrick also wound up in double figures with 10 points. St. Onge had nine points (and five steals), Plalum had eight (as well as six rebounds and two assists) off the bench, Nzeyimana added five points, five assists and four rebounds, while Rwaganje finished with three points and DePatsy (four rebounds) and Weisberg (eight rebounds and three blocked shots) each had two.

Cheverus had a 33-28 rebounding advantage, but made just 7-of-12 free throws and committed 22 turnovers.


“We had way too many fouls in the second half,” Ashley lamented. “Windham played hard. They’re a good team. I thought in spurts we played really well and got contributions from different guys. We just didn’t capitalize in overtime. We were up 14 and got out of our game plan.”

Midway point

Windham (now ranked first in the Class AA North Heal Points standings) returns to action Thursday at Lewiston, then hosts Portland Saturday afternoon in a playoff rematch.

“We just have to keep playing how we’re playing, as a team,” said McPherson. “Just because we beat the number one team doesn’t mean we’re the best team, so we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

“We don’t look too far ahead,” Pulkkinen said. “We can’t overlook anybody. We need to attack every day and make sure we come with a hungry mindset. We’ll find what we can improve on and get better. It’s a good feeling, but the guys aren’t satisfied.”

Cheverus (second in AA North) will reach the midway point of its regular season Thursday, when it travels to Oxford Hills. Saturday brings a trip to Bangor.

“We have a tough stretch,” Ashley said. “We’ll have seven road games by the end of the week. Only three home games. The schedule is the schedule and it won’t get any easier, but we look forward to it.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at For game updates and links to game stories, follow him on Threads: @foresports2023

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