Windham Eagle: Windham varsity boys’ basketball team wins first AA state championship in program history

Windham varsity boys’ basketball team wins first AA state championship in program history

By Matt Pascarella

From the very start of the season, the Windham varsity boys’ basketball team showed they had what it took to go all the way. On Saturday, March 2 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland during the AA state championship against Gorham, Windham fought hard for 32 minutes – forced overtime – and came away with the first gold ball in the program’s history after a 62-58 win.

“I dreamed about this when we were in middle school,” said senior Quinton Lindsay. “Always wanted a gold ball; just a perfect way to end the story. We were all together – we did not get down on each other, if we got down, we knew we would have fallen apart, we stayed composed and won the game. We just knew one stop at a time, one stop and we’d be champions – and we are.”

According to sophomore AJ Moody, being surrounded by the community is amazing; it brought them closer together as a team. Winning this state championship is the best feeling with his brothers and such great coaches.

“My mindset was that we were going to win,” said sophomore Tyrie James. “Every time we scored [toward the end of the game] the excitement was just there. Even if it was an open layup, everyone on the bench, the fans they would all get loud. It’s good to know people come to your games to watch your whole team play. Our defense was amazing, and our composure was good too; at the end of the game hitting free throws. There was just so much excitement [toward the end of overtime], we had to get psyched and celebrate.”


Windham hit the court with tenacity; they knew what Gorham could do. Lindsay hit a three-pointer and soon Windham led 9-0.

“We knew that [Gorham] would go on runs, they’re a high-powered offensive team,” said senior Erik Bowen. “We just stayed together like we have all year. It’s taken a lot of hard work, these seniors have battled together, been a tight-knight group for many years, friends on and off the court, there was no separation from grade to grade; it’s just one big family. Coach Pulkkinen always talks about be where your feet are and … that’s how we got through this season – now we’re state champions, one day, one moment at a time.”

Moody hit a three-pointer and Lindsay scored again from the top of the key. After one quarter, Windham led 23-7.

“These guys are such a good group of young men,” said Windham assistant varsity coach George McCrillis. “Our loss to Gorham [in the regular season] we came out of that and said that might be a good thing … it took us down a little bit … those guys are going to be in our sights … [Gorham] was the team we wanted to play in this game. I’ve been around this game for 55 years, I’ve been associated with some really good teams, but this is the greatest group of young men and coaches – Chad is so dedicated and puts in so much time; he coached these guys up for this game. And the support from the community has been unbelievable; it has a very big impact. We’re about a team.”

Gorham scored several three-pointers in the second quarter and made up the difference. Windham led 27-26 at the half.

As Windham took the court in the second half, they remained composed. They hustled, but not all shots were falling. This game was very close. Every time Windham scored the Cross Insurance Arena thundered with praise from supporters. The game was tied at 34, then Windham took the lead, then Gorham had the lead. Then the game was tied at 39.

Tensions were high as the clock wound down. Moody hit another three-pointer. With 53 seconds left, the game was tied at 49. Windham defense ran out the clock as they headed into overtime.

Senior Blake McPherson helped Windham pull away when he sunk a three-pointer. Lindsay sunk a foul shot. With two minutes left, Windham led by two.

Just 31 seconds remained and Windham led by three, then 27.5 seconds remained and Windham expanded that lead to five points and Gorham was unable to recover.

James finished with 17 points, 1 rebound, and was 11-13 at the foul line. Moody had 12 points, 2 rebounds, and was 4-4 at the foul line. Junior Creighty Dickson had 12 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and went 4-5 at the foul line. Lindsay had 10 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and was 2-6 at the foul line. McPherson had 7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block and went 3-3 in the field during the fourth quarter and overtime.


“They’re always coming back,” said assistant Windham varsity coach Geoff Grigsby. “I wasn’t worried when we were down 12 to Portland in the semifinal, I wasn’t worried when we were down five at the end of the game just because I know how resilient we are. I knew we were going to be good. I thought we could do this this year because our senior group was super special, and we had super talented young guys. They’re the best leaders we’ve ever had.”

Grigsby had nothing but amazing things to say about each senior on the team – their skill, work ethic and character.

To Windham varsity assistant coach Noah Estey, this game meant everything; being a teacher and coach is all about giving kids opportunities to be successful. To create memories and develop confidence in themselves. This is a special group of guys and Estey was honored to be a small piece of the historic puzzle. Coaches Pulkkinen, McCrillis, Grisgsby, students at Windham High and the community were a perfect and emotional way to end one of the best experiences of Estey’s whole life.

“It means everything to me because these guys got to experience it,” said Windham head varsity coach Chad Pulkkinen. “That’s all I wanted; I just wanted these guys to feel what they’re feeling right now and all the hard work they put in. We had so many alumni that I’ve coached that were reaching out wishing us luck and … this group is very special and have set a standard for groups to come of how to play unselfishly and stick together and be good kids and most important that’s what they are, a great group of kids, who happen to be really good at basketball.”

Windham was led by great seniors who showed the younger guys the way. Pulkkinen has never been more confident in a team throughout a season than this one. <

Community support