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The Commons
Photo 1

Randolph T. Holhut/Commons file photo

Brattleboro coach Todd Bell applauds his teams effort against Leland & Gray earlier this month. His team won the Unified Basketball state championship on May 11 at Castleton University.


Colonels win Unified state title

Originally published in The Commons issue #408 (Wednesday, May 17, 2017).

There’s a new trophy on display at Brattleboro Union High School, one that comes with a lot of history attached to it.

The Colonels’ Unified Basketball team beat the defending champs, the Champlain Valley Redhawks, 46-45, at Castleton University on May 11 to win the state championship.

Unified Basketball is a joint effort between the Vermont Principals’ Association and Special Olympics Vermont.

In only the second year of the program’s existence, Brattleboro head coach Todd Bell and his players became the first southern Vermont school to win a Unified title, and the first Unified team at BUHS to be crowned champions.

The cheers and the trophy are always sweet, but the point of Unified sports is to bring together students who, in the past, would not have had chance to play in interscholastic competition, and team them up with students without developmental disabilities.

The chemistry that develops is enjoyable for fans to watch, and life-changing for all the students who participated.

Brattleboro, the top seed from the South, defeated No. 8 Leland & Gray, No. 5 Middlebury, and No. 7 Mill River to reach the finals and face the Redhawks, the North’s No. 3 seed.

Against the Redhawks, Joy Young started things off for the Colonels by hitting her first three baskets. Still, the Hawks had a 14-11 lead after one quarter, and a 23-17 lead at the half.

The Colonels came back in the second half as Young, Jacob Williams, Zach Smith paced the offense. Smith capped off the Brattleboro rally with a three-pointer with a minute to play. He led all scorers with 18 points.

Cody Hellus played his customary rugged defense, and Kayli Nicholson delivered timely outside shooting. Partners Tanner Ball, Shenise Taliaferro, and Tatiahna Mitchell distributed the ball well.

In an email to The Commons, Coach Bell wrote that the team was “an absolute joy to coach.”

“To see them come together and improve as the season progressed is a testament to their hard work, focus and determination,” wrote Bell. “It was just icing on the cake to win a state championship. I love these guys, and while our season has come to a close, the memories and friends made will last a lifetime.”

Brattleboro finished with an 8-1 record, and Bell wrote that all but two of this season’s players are expected to return. He is already looking ahead to next season, and asks that any BUHS students interested in playing Unified basketball in 2018 contact him at


• Bellows Falls manufactured the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning to pull out a 3-2 win over Fair Haven on May 8 at Hadley Field.

With one out and nobody on, BF’s Jake Lober was hit by a pitch. He then stole second before Brady Illingworth reached on a throwing error to put runners on second and third. Clean-up hitter Liam Hackett popped up for the second out.

But the Slaters decided to intentionally walk Clayton Groenwold to load up the bases and set up a force play at any base. Jacob Metcalf then worked the count full and drew a walk to send Lober home and end the game.

Losing pitcher Garrett Tupper, who pitched all 8 innings, was the hard-luck loser. Illingworth and Metcalf shared the pitching duties for BF.

Two days later at Hadley Field, the Terriers got no-hit by Windsor’s Seth Balch in a 3-1 loss. BF’s first two batters reached base in the first inning, but Balch settled into a groove and retired 15 of the next 16 batters he faced.

Balch finished with 8 strikeouts and 2 walks. BF’s only run came in the sixth inning off a pair of errors.

BF’s Shane Clark pitched well in the loss, giving up 2 hits with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts over 6 innings. Jake Metcalfe threw a scoreless seventh in relief. Errors proved to be the Terriers downfall, especially in the first inning when Windsor scored twice.

The Terriers closed out the week with a 6-2 loss at Otter Valley on May 12. Winning pitcher Payson Williams shut down the BF offense with a complete-game 4-hitter, Illingworth took the loss for the Terriers, who finished the week at 4-6.

• Leland & Gray took advantage of a bunch of walks from Poultney’s pitchers and hot hitting by Patrick McDonald (4-for-4) and Walker Hamer (3 hits) as the Rebels rolled over the Blue Devils, 22-6, in Townshend on May 8. Luc Dugrenier and McDonald split the pitching chores, and combined for 8 strikeouts.

Against Green Mountain on May 10, the Rebels scored 6 unearned runs and hung on for a 6-4 victory. Dugrenier was the winning pitcher; he struck out 6, walked 5, and gave up 4 hits. McDonald went 2-for-4 with a triple and a pair of RBIs, while Quinn Kelloway was 2-for-3.

The next day against Twin Valley at Baker Field in Wilmington, McDonald made his varsity debut as a starting pitcher, and went the distance in a 9-4 victory.

McDonald struck out 9 and walked 4 in scattering 8 hits. His only bad inning was the sixth, when he gave up back-to-back singles to Lucas Messing and Joey Rafus to set up a three-run homer over the center fence by Ethan Fox.

Rafus was the losing pitcher. He held the Rebels to just 2 runs over 4 innings, but got roughed up in the fifth when Bryce Karg hit an RBI double and an error on a ground ball by Sam Gleason allowed 2 more runs to score. He got knocked out in the sixth after a two-run single by Hamer. James McGovern finished up.

After starting the season with a 2-4 record, the Rebels are now on a roll at 5-4.

• Twin Valley started the week on May 8 with a 12-7 win at Proctor, their first of the season. McGovern went 2-for-2 and drove in 4 runs for the Wildcats, while Jordan Warner scored 3 runs. On the mound, it was a collective effort as Rafus, Allen Cole, Fox, and McGovern split the pitching duties.

Fox was the pitching hero on May 10 when the Wildcats beat Woodstock, 6-4, at Baker Field. He struck out 4 and walked no one as he scattered 9 hits over 6 innings. Rafus got the save with a scoreless seventh.

TV did its scoring early, getting all of its runs in the first 2 innings with Skyler Boyd getting a pair of RBI singles and McGovern hitting a two-run double. The Wildcats are 2-4-1.


• Brattleboro started its week with an easy 15-0 win over Windsor in five innings on May 8 at Sawyer Field. Pitcher Jocelyn Aither held Windsor to a single hit as she struck out 9 batters and walked only 2.

Freshman Rachael Rooney went 4-for-4 with 3 RBIs to lead the Colonels offense. Emmalee Waite and Lauren McKenney each went 2-for-2 and combined for five RBIs. Devin Millerick, Hailey Derosia, Mariah Powers, and Olivia Weeks each had a hit and each drove in a run.

The Colonels were in a much tougher spot on May 11 at Keene, N.H., as the Blackbirds pulled out a 4-3 win. Keene broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth when Brandie Worcester drew a bases-loaded walk and Molly Harvey hit an RBI double. Brattleboro tried to rally in the seventh, with a RBI single by Jamie Mahoney, but could not get anything more.

Aither and Derosia shared pitching duty; together they walked 9, struck out 6, and gave up 5 hits. Millerick had a 3-for-3 day at the plate, while Mahoney and Powers each had a pair of hits.

• Despite two hits, including a home run, by Aly Bashaw, it was not enough as Hartford edged Bellows Falls, 5-4, on May 8 in Westminster.

Three days later, BF suffered its ninth straight loss, a 5-3 decision at home to Windsor. Hannah Dupuis and Bashaw each had 2 hits for the Terriers, while Paxton Santorelli and Emily Bazin each drove in a run.

Girls’ lacrosse

• Liz Day had 5 goals and an assist and Meg Ayotte added a goal as Brattleboro lost to Mount Anthony, 13-6, on May 8 at Natowich Field.

On May 11 in Woodstock, Brittney Poljacik scored in overtime as the Wasps beat Brattleboro, 14-13. It was the first win of the year for Woodstock.


• The Brattleboro girls pulled out a 4-3 win over Mount St. Joseph in Rutland on May 11. It was the play of the doubles teams and the bottom of the singles bracket that put the Colonels over.

In singles, No. 4 Pilar Rivera skunked MSJ’s Lizzy Wright, 6-0, 6-0, while No. 5 Alisa Walkowiak took the clincher 6-0, 6-1 over MSJ’s Carley Ruby. In doubles, No. 1 Colette Anton and Camden Haskins beat Sophia Duffy and Kristen Elliott, 6-1, 6-1, and the No. 2 team of Bella Takacs and Rachel Reynolds won by forfeit. Brattleboro is now 3-6.

Honors for local gridiron standouts

• At the 24th annual National Football Foundation (NFF) Vermont Chapter Awards Dinner at Castleton University, several area high school players and coaches were recognized.

DJ Snide, a two-way All-State lineman for Division II champion Bellows Falls, was a finalist for the PRIDE (Personal Responsibility for Individual Daily Effort) of Vermont Award, annually given to the state’s best player. Hartford’s Matt Lucke, captain for the Division I champs, was the winner.

Conor Hiner, a Brattleboro senior, was one of six players selected as 2016 Vermont High School Football Scholar-Athlete Inductees. Each received a $500 scholarship from the NFF. Jahyde Bullard of Bellows Falls and Vermont Academy was a finalist.

Collegiate senior Soren Pelz-Walsh of Dummerston, a wide receiver for Castleton, was named to Vermont Collegiate Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame.

The state’s high school coaches presented its 2016 Vermont Coach of the Year Award to longtime Bellows Falls head coach Bob Lockerby for leading the Terriers to the Division II state title. Lockerby will have a busy summer, as he will be coaching the Vermont Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl team, as well as being a coach on the Vermont Twin State Baseball team.

For the second straight year, Bellows Falls was awarded the James Howard Trophy for sportsmanship and fair play by the Vermont Football Officials Association.

Kids Day at Sportsmen Inc.

On May 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sportsmen Inc., the area’s local hunting, fishing, and shooting club, will host its annual Kids Day at the club, 2081 Creamery Rd., in Guilford.

This event is free for all kids and parents. The gate opens to the public at 10 a.m. There will be free refreshments including hot dogs, chips, and soft drinks. The fish pond will be stocked, so be sure to bring your own rod and reel.

Target shooting with .22 rifles (the club will provide rifles and ammunition, so leave your firearms at home), trap shooting, and BB gun target shooting will also be available, plus archery instruction. The club has coaches for all the events.

Call Art Greenbaum at 802-254-1580 for information.

Fitness classes at the Rec

• The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department is offering a spring/summer session of fitness classes, beginning the week of May 22 at the Gibson-Aiken Center, 207 Main St.

This is an eight-week program and is offered for people 16 years of age and older. The cost of the program is: one class per week, $50; two classes per week, $75; and three classes per week, $90. Non-residents add $25 to the cost of the program. There is a drop-in rate of $10 per class. Late registrations are always welcome!

The class runs 12:10 to 1:10 p.m., with yoga on Mondays, strong yoga on Wednesdays, and yoga and pilates on Fridays. The instructor is Cyndy Gray. Call the Recreation & Parks office at 802-254-5808 with any questions.

Senior bowling roundup

• Week 2 of the spring season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League saw Team 8 (9-1) take over first place, while Team 3 (8-2) is in second and Team 6 (6-4) is third. Team 1 and Team 4 (both 5-5) are tied for fourth, followed by Team 7 (4-6), Team 2 (2-8), and Team 2 (2-8) and Team 5 (1-9).

Edna Fletcher had the high handicap game (239) and series (644) for the women, while Jerry Dunham had the men’s high handicap game (246) and Howard Manley had the men’s high handicap series (624). Team 8 had the high team handicap game (852) and series (2,434).

Marty Adams (200), Warren Corriveau Sr. (206), Jerry Dunham (224) had the only 200-plus games, while Fred Ashworth (532), Corriveau (537), Dunham (536), Adams (523), and Tom Johnson (504) rolled 500-plus series.

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