Thetford Basketball's Win Over Windsor Shaded in Gray
Thetford Academy’s Ian Weider, left, breaks downcourt as Windsor’s Shawn Pinsonault falters during the Panthers’ 63-47 victory last night in Thetford. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Ian Weider, right, and Thetford teammate Brandon Gray, left, put a defensive pinch on Windsor’s Tyson Boudro. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Windsor’s Shawn Pinsonault, second from right, takes a swat at Thetford’s Dominic Chatot as he drives toward the lane last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Thetford — Brandon Gray’s cough echoed through the basement hallway adjacent to the Thetford Academy gymnasium late last night. The cringe-inducing noise sounded like something that would be produced by the offspring of a harbor seal and a mastiff, but the sophomore certainly didn’t exhibit sickly play during his team’s 63-47 rout of visiting Windsor.
A shooting guard who lived up to his positional name, Gray torched the twine for 23 points, 18 of them coming on six 3-pointers. This despite recent listlessness tied to his chest woes.
“He’s been a zombie for a week,” said Thetford coach Justin Smith, whose team improved to 2-0. “Yesterday was the first day he could really practice.”
Said Gray: “It’s been killing me. There were a couple shots tonight I just chucked up there and they went in anyways.”
Windsor coach Harry Ladue felt his players pretty much killed themselves. The Yellowjackets looked sharp and energized in knocking off Springfield during their season opener, but apparently forgot to pack any motivation for the bus ride north on Interstate 91.
“We were awful, and I don’t know why,” Ladue said. “ We were flat warming up and flat coming out and my experienced guys didn’t do enough to help us win. They need to step up when things aren’t going well when things aren’t going good.”
Windsor center Tanner Tibbits, a 6-foot-4 senior, sat out a second consecutive game for reasons Ladue doesn’t care to discuss publicly. Combined with injuries, that left the visitors with what amounted to a 6-man roster last night.
“With as limited as we are, it’s not like I can say, ‘OK, you guys don’t want to play? I can bring in three more,’ ” Ladue said. “In a good year, I can find some energy on the bench, but this is all we’ve got right now.”
Windsor trailed 16-13 after eight minutes but fell behind 35-18 late in the second quarter. The Yellowjackets committed seven of their 26 turnovers during that stanza but closed the gap to 38-26 by halftime and pulled within 43-35 four minutes after halftime. Thetford then embarked on an 11-3 run that essentially ended the game. Gray had five of those points and didn’t score during the fourth quarter.
“Harry played man-to-man defense, he played a 2-3 zone, then a 1-3-1 (zone), then a box-and-one on Brandon,” said Smith, who recalls competing for Oxbow against Ladue-coached teams. “It took us two or three possessions to figure (the defense) out after every time he switched.”
No amount of tactical juggling was going to overcome the Yellowjackets’ sluggish play, however. Not when the Panthers could drive to the hoop with guards Dominic Chatot and Ian Weider (13 points), pound it inside to center Aiden Cleaves (12 points, 11 rebounds) or kick it outside to Gray. The latter said he tilts an ear towards Smith on when to shoot and when to hold off.
“Coach will tell me to go ahead and step into one, or he’ll say, ‘Brandon, that’s too many,’ and I try to listen,” said Gray, who also contributed six steals. “Sometimes I get a little trigger-happy, but tonight, other than one or two shots, I felt I was under control.”
Windsor was led by Ethan Hill, who scored 13 points despite an ankle injury suffered when he stepped on the ball during the first quarter. Teammate Shawn Pinsonault also played hurt, scoring nine points and shaking off the effects of a bloody nose suffered during a collision. Tyson Boudro added 11 points and Nick Kapuscinski six. Senior forward Luke TanCreti, who had 18 points against Springfield, had three last night and fouled out with six minutes remaining.
All Ladue could do afterwards was shrug.
“As bad as we played, we were still in the game during the third quarter,” he said. “Then we come down and turn it over three straight times and don’t even get a shot. Every time we did something, Thetford answered.”
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.