WINDHAM — A defeat suffered 12 months ago has proven the impetus for a season Windham girls basketball hopes lasts another week.
The third-seeded Jaguars earned a second consecutive trip to the Division 2 semifinals with a convincing 57-36 over 11th-seeded border-rival Pelham last night in the Division 2 quarterfinals.
Windham (18-5) now looks to improve on last season’s trip to the semifinals, a two-point loss to Kearsage in which the Jaguars failed to connect on a buzzer-beating jumper.
The Jaguars will take on No. 2 Portsmouth in the semifinals on Monday.
“Last year, the girls got a taste of what it’s like to play at a bigger venue,” Windham coach Joe Mason said. “That really has fueled our run all season. Previously I have been to a state-championship game when I was on the Bishop Guertin staff and I’ve kept on explaining to these kids what a wonderful experience it is.”
His Jaguars will have a very good chance of making that run if they play like they did in the second half of their opener against Pelham.
After taking a nine-point lead three minutes into last night’s game, Windham managed only 10 points the following 13 minutes. Luckily for the Jaguars, Pelham was unable to capitalize as the teams combined to make only 3 of 19 second-quarter shots while committing 12 turnovers.
“I think we were a little frustrated,” Kelsey Schiebel said. “(Pelham) has really good team defense. So, as a team, we decided we needed to pull it together, run our offense through more than once and not do anything on the first try unless we had an opening. We slowed down, gained our composure and played really well as a team.”
Windham proved much more effective after intermission, quickly turning a 21-13 advantage into a 13-point lead. Leading the charge was junior Brianna Angelini and Bernadette Connors, who combined to score 12 of their 20 points in the crucial third period.