Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons
Leland & Gray's Rachel Borgesen (25) puts up a shot between Poultney defenders Thomasine Beayon (40) and Nadia Cox (20) during their playoff game on March 8 in Townshend.
Before Leland & Gray took the court on March 8 for a first round game in Townshend in the Division III girls’ basketball playoffs, the team got its trophy for winning the Marble Valley League C Division championship.
An MVL title is nice, but the Rebels want something a little bigger and shinier for the school’s trophy case.
For the first time in 25 years, the Rebels are heading to the Barre Auditorium to play in the state semifinals, after beating No. 6 Northfield in a dramatic 33-32 overtime victory on March 11. Leland & Gray will face second-seeded Thetford on March 16 at 8:15 p.m. Last year, Thetford knocked the Rebels out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals.
The third-seeded Rebels rolled to a 66-41 win over the No. 14 Poultney Blue Devils, which wasn’t surprising considering Leland & Gray beat Poultney by 30 points (55-25) on the road on Feb. 11 and by 20 points (46-26) in Townshend on Feb. 23.
As I watched the Rebels warm up before the Poultney game, they appeared loose, relaxed, confident, and ready for another big performance. And they delivered, as Leland & Gray dominated nearly every aspect of the game.
On defense, their press forced numerous turnovers and the Rebels’ speed and size meant few offensive rebounds for the Blue Devils. On offense, Rebels forward Rachel Borgesen flashed all kinds of fakes and spin moves inside as she scored 21 points.
The only thing the Rebels didn’t do well was shoot free throws. They went 11-for 21 from the line, with Borgesen having a brutal 5-for-12 night.
Fortunately, that didn’t matter. Leland & Gray played like a team that knew it was going to win.
The Rebels led 15-8 after the first quarter, 32-17 at the half, and 48-30 after three quarters. There were no big runs for the Rebels, just a steady and unwavering stretch of fundamentally sound play that inexorably built up the lead.
The offensive load was also spread around. Jesse Stockwell had 8 points in the first quarter on the way to scoring 13 in the game. Hannah Buffum added 10 points, and eight other Rebels players got into the scoring column as coach Terry Merrow made sure everyone who was able to play got some minutes.
“They were definitely focused,” said Merrow of his team after the game. “and that’s because Rachel and Jesse showed great leadership on the floor. The seniors led the way.”
Merrow said he was particularly pleased to see how well the Rebels moved the ball around on offense.
“We got a lot of open looks at the basket by being patient,” he said. “At this point in the year, you hope to have the offense all set and just work on refining your plays. They’re playing with such confidence now.”
The Rebels faced a tougher test against Northfield on March 11 in a quarterfinal in Townshend. Both teams played airtight defense, and both teams struggled for every point.
It finally came down to the final seconds of regulation. With the Rebels trailing by 3 with 14 seconds to play, Stockwell threw in a three-pointer to tie the game at 27-all and force overtime.
In the extra period, the Rebels again found themselves behind with the clock winding down. This time, Buffum was the heroine, as she sank the game-winning shot as the fans in the LGUHS gym roared with delight.
Borgesen finished with 9 points and 5 rebounds to lead the Rebels. Stockwell and Buffum added 5 points each. Maia Robinson led Northfield with 16 points.
• There was no late-season lightning for Brattleboro this year, as the No. 12 Colonels fell to fifth-seeded BFA-St. Albans, 62-39, in the first round of the Division I playoffs on March 7.
Kelly Laggis dominated for the Comets with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals, while Hannah Earl had 12 points and 7 rebounds.
The Comets led 17-5 after the first quarter and 36-18 at halftime. The Colonels could not get it together in this rematch of last season’s semifinal.
Devin Millerick had 14 points and 4 steals and Hailey Derosia finished with 7 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists for the Colonels, who finished the season at 10-11.
• Bellows Falls met with a similar fate in their Division II first-round game on March 7 as the ninth-seeded Terriers lost to the eight-seeded Lake Region Rangers, 62-38.
Four Rangers reached double figures: Alexis Smith (13 points), Hunter Cota (12 points), Emma Coy (11), and Rebecca Doucet (10).
Hannah Kelly, Michelle Marchica, and Molly Kelly were the top scorers for Bellows Falls.
• No. 16 Twin Valley got steamrollered by the top-seed in Division III, the Windsor Yellowjackets, 59-26, in a first-round game on March 7. Windsor led 39-4 at the half, and let the reserves mop up in the second half.
Senior Ashleay Wilcox led Windsor with 15 points, including 3 three-pointers. Freshmen Olivia Rockwood and Angelina Bigwood had 15 and 11, respectively,
Tayler Courchesne scored 14 for Twin Valley, who finished the season at 5-16. Windsor also is in the final four in Division III, they will play No. 4 Winooski in the other semifinal game at the Aud on March 16 at 6:15 p.m.
• Twin Valley’s drive for a Division III state title ended on March 9, as they lost to second-seeded Hazen, 56-53, in the semifinals at the Barre Auditorium.
Trailing by eight points at halftime, Hazen staged a third-quarter rally to overcome the third-seeded Wildcats and punch their ticket for the finals.
Brett Swanson led Twin Valley with 20 points and 9 rebounds. Dylan Howe, Ethan Fox, and Skyler Boyd each added 9 points apiece as the Wildcats finished the season with a 16-7 record.
Hazen, the defending state champs, lost their crown to Williamstown, 66-54, in the title game on March 11 at the Aud.
Williamstown has won five of the last six Division III titles; only last year’s loss to Hazen broke up the string of championships.
• The Brattleboro Sunrise Rotary Club’s 21st annual “Nothin’ but Net” Tournament will be held this year on Saturday, March 18 at Brattleboro Union High School.
The “Nothin’ But Net” Tournament is a 3-on-3 basketball tournament for the entire community. The net proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Brattleboro Sunrise Rotary Foundation Scholarship Fund.
Teams compete in a double elimination format in divisions for adult men and women, middle school and high school boys and girls. Entry fees are $50 per adult team and $40 per student team. There will also be a 3 point contest for men and women and a free throw contest. Both are open to the public as well.
For more information or to request a registration form, contact Toni Ciampaglione at 802-338-6286. Players can also download a registration form at www.brattleborosunriserotary.org.
• Want to get started running, but not sure how to do it safely? Grace Cottage is starting a “Couch to 5K” preparation-support group, led by Nurse Practitioner Jorda Daigneault, for eight weeks in March, April, and May.
The goal is to get ready to run in the Grace Cottage “Spring Into Health 5K” in Townshend on Saturday, May 13.
The C25K group will meet Wednesdays at 5 p.m. in the Grace Cottage cafeteria, March 22 through May 10. Participation is free. The group will train together once a week, and they’ll be encouraged to train on their own time two more days each week.
The C25K program follows a prescribed schedule to help potential runners get in shape, using an alternating pattern of walking and running. Each week the amount of time spent running increases, while the walking times decreases. Daigneault will teach the method and will answer questions in a supportive environment.
By the end of the eight weeks, participants should be able to run a 5K, but walking during the “Spring Into Health 5K” is also perfectly acceptable. Proceeds from the 5K benefit Grace Cottage.
Online registration for the 5K is available at www.gracecottage.org/events. For more information on the C25K group or the 5K itself, call 802-365-9109.
• At the midpoint of the winter season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League, Team 6 (28-12) remains in first place, but Team 10 (26-14) and Team 2 (26-14) are not far behind and tied for second. Team 9 (24-16) moved into third, while Team 7 (20-20) and Team 1 (20-20) are now tied for fourth. Team 8 (16-24) is fifth, followed Team 4 (15-25), Team 5 (14-26) and Team 3 (11-29).
Carole Frizzelle had the women’s high handicap game (250) and series (669), while Eric Brown had the men’s high handicap game (250) and series (681). Team 8 had the high team handicap game (890) and series (2,507).
Jerry Dunham (601) rolled a 600-plus series, while Brown (504), Charles Marchant (535), Fred Bump (514), Fred Ashworth (557), Warren Corriveau Sr. (501), and Wayne Farnham (527) all had 500-plus series. Dunham (228), Brown (215), Ashworth (200), and Farnham (211) all had 200-plus games.
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