PELHAM – A matchup between border rivals should be a battle. Beauty, however, obviously is not a requirement for such an affair.
Last night, fans saw a tough — but ugly — skirmish between teams streaking in opposite directions as Pelham snapped a four-game losing streak with a 44-41 victory over Windham. The loss was the first in five games for the Jaguars.
“Oh yeah, this is a rivalry,” said Pelham coach Matt Regan, whose squad has won all six times the two have faced since Windham began varsity action three years ago. “These games have been wars. They’re just monster games two times a year.”
Struggling from the field the whole game, the Pythons (8-8 overall, 7-6 Division II) jumped to a seven-point lead early in the fourth when they forced Windham (6-8, 6-6) out of their zone.
Leading the way was junior guard Jake Vaiknoras, who scored each of Pelham’s first seven points of the quarter.
“Winning this game was very important,” said Vaiknoras, who finished with 12 points. “We needed to get back on track.”
After Vaiknoras’ outburst, Ryan Frank turned a rebound into a length-of-the-court lay-in that gave the Pythons a 42-35 lead with 4:12 remaining.
Windham scored six of the game’s final eight points, but a turn-around 3-point attempt to tie by David Carbonello went awry with 4 seconds left. He also missed another from half court as time ran out.
Keith Brown, who scored 25 in a 61-49 victory over Windham in early January, once again provided the bulk of Pelham’s scoring. The freshman accounted for six of the Pythons’ first 10 field goals and he finished with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. He also scored Pelham’s final basket of the game with 2:40 remaining.
“He can play ball,” Regan said of his youngster. “He’s very intelligent, so he knows when to get down on the block and he knows when a good shot is open. He has the green light at all times.”