Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons
Brattleboro guard Tanner Bell, right, drives past Leland & Gray's Lucas Newton during the first half of their Dec. 16 game at the BUHS gym.
Originally published in The Commons issue #388 (Wednesday, December 21, 2016). This story appeared on page D4.
BRATTLEBORO—The Brattleboro Colonels boys’ basketball team headed into an 11-day break in fine fashion after winning their first three games of the season.
After rallying to beat Pope Francis, 85-78, in overtime on Dec. 10 at the Pioneer Valley Tip-Off Tourney at the University of Massachusetts, the Colonels kept up the momentum with two big victories last week in the BUHS gym — a 72-59 win over Monument Mountain on Dec. 13 and a 71-27 blowout of Leland & Gray on Dec. 16.
“It’s good to get through our first three games like this,” said Colonels coach Jason Coplan, who took over for Joe Rivers to lead the varsity squad this season. “Now we’ve got 11 days to work on our game in practice and sort things out before we get into the league part of the schedule.”
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of things for Coplan to fine-tune. He’s got a team that can knock down three-pointers at will, but is also not afraid get down and dirty under the basket.
Against Monument Mountain, Eli Lombardi and Ian Fulton-Black scored 24 and 23 points, respectively. Fulton-Black sank five three-pointers in the win, while Lombardi scored 8 points and grabbed 6 rebounds during the Colonels’ 16-0 run in the opening five minutes.
The Colonels led 37-20 at the end of the first half, and Monument Mountain never seriously threatened in the second half. Taylor Patno added 10 points for Brattleboro, and Leif Bigelow had 6 points off the bench.
Brattleboro also got off to a fast start against Leland & Gray, opening with a 12-0 run, with 7 of those points coming from Lombardi. When the Colonel reserves came in midway through the first quarter, the Rebels finally scored some points and trailed 16-6 at the end of the quarter.
From that point, the Rebels were completely overwhelmed by the Colonels. Dan Jaro scored 10 points off the bench, including 2 three-pointers, as Brattleboro built up a 41-8 lead at the half.
Outside shooting built up an even bigger lead for the Colonels in the third quarter as Lombardi hit 2 three-pointers and Tony Martinez and Ian Fulton-Black each added a three to make it a 59-13 game heading into the final eight minutes. The Colonel reserves took over from there to close out the win.
Lombardi was high scorer with 19 points. Reserve center Hunter Beebe added 15 points and went 9-for-9 from the free throw line. Jaro finished with 11. Lucas Newton scored 7 points to lead the 1-1 Rebels.
It was a disappointing loss for the Rebels, coming as it did after a 44-37 road win against Springfield in the season opener on Dec. 13.
Against Springfield, the Rebels held the Cosmos to a 6-for-41 shooting performance. But the aggressive defense by the Rebels that shut down Springfield’s offense gave the Cosmos multiple opportunities to shoot free throws. Fortunately for the Rebels, the Cosmos went a mediocre 24-for-38 from the free throw line.
In the Brattleboro game, the Colonels also got lots of trips to the free throw line. But a so-so 19-for-33 performance from the line was offset by the Colonels making 10 three-pointers.
First-year coach Mack Neil said he knew that it was going to be tough for his Rebels to beat the Colonels, but he said he felt his team had a puncher’s chance against Brattleboro.
“This game tested what we are made of,” said Neil, “Games like this, you’re either going to fold or pick yourself back up and move forward. That’s the challenge this team has to answer.”
While Coplan admitted that a Division III team like Leland & Gray game is one that his Division I squad is supposed to beat, the Rebels’ road win over Springfield, a Division II team, is an illustration that you can’t take any school for granted.
“There are a lot of Division II and III teams on our Marble Valley League schedule, but none of those games are a given. And we still have to play against some tough Division I teams. The season gets tougher now, and that’s why the practice time before our next game [Dec. 27 against St. Johnsbury] is important.”
• When Brattleboro plays Rutland, the games are always filled with penalties, and the victor is usually the team with the better goaltending and penalty kill unit.
For most of the first two periods of the Colonels’ home opener against the Raiders at Withington Rink on Dec. 14, it was Brattleboro that had the edge in both areas. Freshman goaltender Sam Griffith was stopping everything that was shot at him, and the Colonels successfully killed off two power plays.
But in the last 70 seconds of the second period, the Colonels picked up two penalties and gave the Raiders a 5-on-3 power play to start the third period. It would be the Colonels’ undoing as Ben Simpson and Conner Ladabouche both scored power play goals in the third to give the Raiders a 2-0 win.
Brattleboro came close to killing off the 5-on-3 advantage. Griffith made four consecutive saves to start the final period, but Rutland’s Jacob Godfrey found the space to take the puck behind the net and then dish it off to Simpson, who scored with 13:49 remaining.
Rutland’s Copper Rice set up the insurance goal by Ladabouche, who scored during a 5-on-4 power play with 10:46 left in the game.
The Raiders had a 28-7 advantage in shots on goal, spoiling what was a great debut by Griffith.
“He had some big saves for us,” said Colonels coach Eric Libardoni. “But we gave them too many power plays [eight in all], and we didn’t get many chances to get the puck in their offensive zone.”
Another problem for the Colonels was that they were outnumbered by a Rutland team that had far more players to put on the ice.
“They played far more guys than we did. They were fresher,” said Libardoni, “I thought we played well, but we were worn down by the end of the game.”
• Shenise Taliaferro led all scorers with 17 points as Brattleboro rolled over Springfield, 62-17, on Dec. 13. The Cosmos didn’t put up much of a fight against the visitors, as Brattleboro took a 21-5 lead after the first quarter and led 36-11 at the half.
Gabby Carpenter finished with 13 points for the 2-0 Colonels. Morgan Mazelli added 5 points and 10 rebounds.
• After losing their first two games of the season, Kendell Howe finished with 12 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists to lead Twin Valley to a 36-32 victory over Mid-Vermont Christian on Dec. 15 in Whitingham.
Sammy Morse added 11 points and Tayler Courchesne had 6 points, 7 rebounds and three assists. Rachel Seale led Mid-Vermont Christian with 22 points. Next up for the Wildcats is the Green Mountain Holiday Tournament in Chester.
• Week 16 of he fall season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League saw Team 5 (54-26) still in first place, but Team 4 (48-32) moved into second place, while Team 3 (47-33) fell to third. Team 1 (44-36) remains in fourth, followed by Team 6 (43-37), Team 7 (40-40), Team 9 (37-43), Team 10 (34-46), Team 8 (30-50), and Team 2 (23-57).
Team 7 had the team high handicap game (863) and series (2,556). Kay Wistrom had the women’s high handicap game (231), while Sally Perry had the high handicap series (629), and David McElroy had the men’s high handicap game (246) and series (706).
Only one bowler had a 200-plus game, Warren Corriveau Sr. (207), but seven bowlers had 500-plus series — Charles Marchant (536), Jerry Dunham (546), Fred Ashworth (536), Wayne Randall (510), Marty Adams (527), Tom Johnson (519), and Corriveau (527).
• The Brattleboro Recreation and Parks Department has lots of activities planned for the holiday vacation week.
The Nelson Withington Skating Facility will be open for additional public skating time on Dec. 23, Dec. 26-31, and Jan. 2 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. The rink will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Skate rentals are $3.
Stick Time at Withington Rink has also begun. Open to all ages and abilities, it’s an opportunity to skate and shoot some pucks, whether or not you play on a hockey team. Equipment and adult supervision will be available. Stick Time takes place on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. The cost is $3 for Brattleboro students, $4 for Brattleboro residents and out-of-town students, and $5 for adult non-residents.
The annual Bowling Day at Brattleboro Bowl on Putney Road will take place on Dec. 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $7 per person and includes two games, shoes, plus a hot dog and a drink. Adults must accompany children under 10.
Additional hours for open gym and the game room for all ages at the Gibson-Aiken Center will be offered on Dec. 23 and Dec. 26-31, from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Open gym and the game room will be closed on Christmas and New Year’s days.
For more information, call the Recreation and Parks office at 802-254-5808.
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