WINSLOW — Sitting at 9-3 in Class B North, the Winslow boys basketball team is on track to be one of the higher seeds in the regional tournament in February.

And if they play defense like they did Thursday night, the Black Raiders will be a tough out once it begins.

In beating Leavitt 52-34, Winslow put on a defensive clinic. The Hornets were cold from the field, but the Black Raiders didn’t allow them to get going, holding them to 13 points in the first half and only 20 points through the first three quarters.

According to Winslow coach Ken Lindlof, this has to be the standard his team looks to repeat. In its nine victories, Winslow is allowing 46.6 points per game. In the three losses, the average is 60.7. When the Black Raiders keep teams down, things tend to go their way.

“Our offense comes from our defense,” he said. “Tonight, that was the case too. If you’re getting stops, there’s not as much pressure on your offense.”

Winslow didn’t allow a two-point field goal until the final second of the third quarter. While the game was still in question, Winslow showcased a combination of physical ability and communication on the defensive end of the floor, as the Raiders stuck with their assignments but also smoothly switched on screens to prevent the Hornets from getting easy lanes to the basket.


Winslow uses a man defense with zone elements away from the ball, and the key, junior forward Jason Reynolds said, is communication.

“Talk. All talk,” he said. “We communicate really well, we have good team chemistry. We work at it a lot in practice. Our team is based off of defense. We have to help each other, we’ve got to have each other’s back, and it’s a ‘next man up’ mentality if anyone goes down.”

Good communication, Lindlof said, doesn’t always come naturally.

“We still can be better at it,” he said. “Sometimes kids are reluctant to talk and communicate. But you have to, and make sure everyone is on the same page.”

Winslow’s Jason Reynolds passes the ball after winning the battle for the loose ball with Leavitt’s Brett Coburn during a boys basketball game Thursday in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Leavitt did make four threes in the first half, but against most teams, the Black Raiders are willing to live with that if it means being formidable inside the arc.

“At practice, our coach tells us not to let them get inside, because the more you get inside, the easier it is to get a basket,” senior center Antoine Akoa said. “So we just block the inside. … As long as we keep them outside, shooters can be shooters and we leave those guys open sometimes. But sometimes it’s easier to get a 2-pointer than a 3-pointer, so we cover the paint as well as we can.”


Covering the paint is easier when you have the size to do it. In Reynolds and Akoa, both 6-4, Winslow has a pair of big men who know how to challenge shots and battle for difficult, even bruising, rebounds.

“We’ve been playing together for a long time and we’re both pretty big, and we’re both pretty good down in the paint,” Akoa said. “So it’s good to have two players relying on each other. One gets into the paint, one’s right there protecting the layup. That’s all it is. We have teamwork, connection, everything.”

At the same time, it’s a work in progress. Lindlof and his players acknowledged some defensive slips in recent games, and the team is still trying to put together four strong quarters. Even while rolling to the win Thursday, Winslow players weren’t satisfied after letting Leavitt narrow a 25-point margin to 15 in the fourth quarter.

“We come out in the beginning of the game hard and strong and fast, and we usually break down around the third quarter,” Akoa said. “We try to put that in perspective, and try to be a full game type of team.”

Akoa’s confident they will be.

“When we keep that communication going, we’re really strong (with) the defense,” Akoa said. “As long as we keep that communication and hard work, we’re going to be a solid defensive team throughout the year.”

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