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Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

Brattleboro’s Isabella Thurber, right, reaches out to tag teammate Evy Williams during the girls’ freestyle relay race.


Colonel girls top Stowe in OT in hockey playoffs

The Brattleboro girls finished the regular season at 5-15, but that was enough to earn the No. 8 seed in Division II and host a first-round playoff game against the ninth-seeded Stowe Raiders (5-15) at Withington Rink on Feb. 21.

The two teams split the regular season series. Brattleboro won 10-9 at Stowe on Jan. 28, a victory that launched a three-game winning streak for the Colonels. On Feb. 13 at Withington Rink, Stowe came out on top, 4-2.

Last Saturday’s game needed overtime to settle it. Grace LaPorte scored just 24 seconds into extra time for a 3-2 win for the Colonels.

Stowe came into the game shorthanded, with only eight skaters and one goalie. That meant the Raiders had to conserve their energy and patiently wait for scoring opportunities. The Colonels countered by marking their top scorer, defenseman Ricki Hoab, and making sure she had few chances to score.

“She’s an excellent stickhandler and every time she touched the puck, she scored,” Colonels coach Linda Burke said of Hoab. “We had someone stay on her the whole game and, by the end, she started getting frustrated and ended up in the penalty box.”

Hoab scored two goals, including the one that forced overtime with 1:19 remaining. When she skated off for a holding penalty just 20 seconds later, Burke saw the opening her team needed.

“We deflated a little when we gave up that goal,” Burke said. “but I knew once we got on the power play, we had a chance.”

Burke’s strategy for overtime was simple. “I told Grace to stay in front of the [Stowe] net and be patient.”

LaPorte’s patience quickly paid off when she pounced on a loose puck in the crease and knocked it home for the win.

Brattleboro scored first with 2:33 left in the opening period; Emily Martyn got the goal from Axis Baisley. Hoab then tied the game when she beat Colonels goal Keegan Jamison on a breakaway for an unassisted goal with 44.1 seconds left in the first.

The game stayed tied until Laporte took a pass from Emma Rueter and put a shot between the pads of Stowe goalie Rowan Clymer that trickled across the goal line with 5:08 left in the third period. Hoab again knotted the game, setting up LaPorte’s overtime dramatics.

“This team worked hard all season and deserves every good thing that comes their way,” said Burke. “Keegan was awesome in goal, and we didn’t get down after they tied it up. This was a great game for us.”

The Colonels now face top-seeded North Country (16-4-1) on Feb. 25 in Jay in a quarterfinal game.

Nordic skiing

• The Brattleboro Colonels nordic ski team was the host on Feb. 18 for the Marble Valley League freestyle relay championship and, for the first time in several years, it was actually held in Brattleboro.

One by-product of all the snow we’ve received over the past month was that the Colonels could set up their course at the Vermont Agriculutural Business Education Center and have perfect conditions to stage a multi-team meet in town, rather than using alternate sites such as Grafton Ponds.

The Brattleboro boys were shorthanded due to illness, but still managed to do okay at this meet. The Woodstock boys won the boys MVL title, followed by Mount Anthony, Brattleboro, Burr & Burton, and Rutland.

Brattleboro’s No. 1 relay team of Phelan Muller, Isaac Freitas-Eagan, Tyler Clement, and Spencer Loggia placed fourth in Wednesday’s relay. The No. 2 team of Dan Burdo, Josh Meachen, Joseph Meima, and Burr & Burton’s Levi Wetherald wound up in ninth.

Woodstock’s girls also won the MVL championship, followed by Mount Anthony, Rutland, and Burr & Burton. Brattleboro did not have enough skiers to amass a team score.

In the girls relay competition, Bella Thurber, Evy Williams, Catey Yost and Tannie Takacs finished sixth for the Colonels. Yost and Thurber also teamed up with Naina Tejani and Firah Wirasatyawan as a varsity/JV mixed foursome relay in the junior varsity competiton.

Tejani, from Pakistan, and Wirasatyawan, from Indonesia, are exchange students at Brattleboro Union High School. For both, this is the first winter they have ever experienced.

Middle schoolers Neveah Beauchamp, Mirra Macy, Isabella Takacs, Elizabeth Morse, and Lucy Szpila also competed for Brattleboro.

Girls’ basketball

• The 12th-seeded Bellows Falls Terriers took advantage of a shorthanded Rivendell squad and came away with a 41-37 upset of the fifth-seeded Raptors in the opening round of the Division III playoffs on Feb. 17 in Orford, N.H.

The Raptors’ second-leading scorer, freshman forward Riley Thornson, was out with a concussion. That allowed the Terriers to focus their defensive efforts on Rivendell’s Tayo Amsden, who scored 11 points, but only two of that total came after the half.

BF trailed 23-19 at the half, but cranked up the defensive pressure in the third quarter as Rivendell hit on just one of the 16 shots they took.

Without Thornson, the Terriers — led by Murphy Hicks — dominated inside, pulling down a total of 35 rebounds.

BF did well scoring also. Hannah Kelly led the way with 15 points. Chelsea Wilder scored 12 and Molly Dufault added 10. Jennifer DeBois was the high scorer for Rivendell with 12.

The win propelled the 8-11 Terriers to the quarterfinals, where they traveled north to fourth-seeded Enosburg on Feb. 21 and lost, 80-46. Emilee Bose scored 30 points for Enosburg and surpassed 1,000 career points on the game’s last basket.

Chelsea Wilder was BF’s high scorer with 16 points, including a perfect 11-for-11 performance at the free throw line. Kelly added nine points and Dufault and Mackenzie Crawford chipped in six each. The Terriers ended the season with a 8-12 record.

• Leland & Gray completed a rare season sweep of Twin Valley, but the Rebels’ third win was sweetest of all, as they took down the sixth-seeded Wildcats, 45-33, in a Division III first round playoff in Whitingham on Feb. 17.

No. 11 Leland & Gray got 11 points each from Haley Buffum and Jessie Stockwell, and three-pointers by Mackenzie Boyle and Jordan Gouger helped the Rebels pull away in the third quarter.

The Rebels made six three-pointers, and their defense forced a lot of missed shots and turnovers by the Wildcats.

The seniors led the way for Twin Valley as Colton Butler finished with 10 points and six rebounds, while Christina Moore scored six points and pulled down eight rebounds as the Wildcats’ season ended with a 12-9 record.

The Rebels advanced to the quarterfinals and, like the Terriers, faced a long road trip to the Canadian border to take on the third-seeded Richford Rockets on Feb. 21. The result was a 54-14 beatdown by Richford.

Alexandria Benoit scored 15 points and Gabbi Coons added 11 as Richford advanced to the semifinals at the Barre Auditorium for the first time in 20 years, and avenged a heartbreaking shootout loss to the Rebels in a soccer playoff game in the rain last October.

Coons was the goalkeeper for the Rockets that afternoon, and Benoit was also on the field that day.

The Rebels were never in this game, trailing 27-5 at the half. Leland & Gray finished the season at 9-13.

• Ninth-seeded Brattleboro also got into the upset act with a 46-31 win over No. 8 Burr & Burton in a Division I first round game in Manchester on Feb. 18. However, it wasn’t that big an upset, for the Colonels had swept the season series with the Bulldogs with a 50-47 win on Jan. 22 in Manchester, and a 42-37 home win on Feb. 7.

The Colonels clearly had the Bulldogs’ number this season, but they had to battle back to win this game. Burr & Burton opened the game with a 9-0 run, but the Colonels kept their cool and rallied to take a 19-15 lead at the half.

Brattleboro led 34-22 by the end of the third quarter and thwarted a Bulldog comeback with an 8-for-9 shooting performance from the free throw line in the final minutes of the game.

Gabby Carpenter scored 13 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead the Colonels. Taylor Bird also scored 12, including all four of her free throws in the fourth quarter, and had five steals and four assists.

Brattleboro’s reward for beating the Bulldogs was a quarterfinal date with top-seeded and undefeated Champlain Valley in Jericho on Feb. 21, and the result wasn’t pretty. Sadie Otley and Laurel Jaunich scored 17 points each as the two-time defending state champions crushed the Colonels, 60-27.

Otley also had six assists and Jaunich pulled down six rebounds as CVU (22-0) took a 24-8 lead after the first eight minutes and led 35-14 at the half. Abbie Lesure led Brattleboro with eight points, while Morgan Derosia added six. The Colonels finished with a 14-8 record.

Ice hockey

• With only one win in their last 10 games, the Brattleboro boys ended the regular season with a 6-14 record and got the 12th seed in the Division II playoffs. Their first-round opponent was fifth-seeded U-32 Raiders (12-7-1), whom they played on Feb. 21 and lost, 5-4.

The two teams only faced each other once in the regular season, on Jan. 7 when U-32 rolled to a 7-0 win.

Last Saturday’s game was a microcosm of the Colonels’ season. As they often have this season, the Colonels took a 3-0 lead in the first period, and then gave up five unanswered goals over the next two periods.

Colby Brochu scored three goals for the Raiders, and Lucas Eldred had three assists. Harper Wimble and Kyle Verchereau also scored. After a shaky start, Connor Carbo made 26 saves in goal to get the win.

John Peloso had two goals and an assist for the Colonels and Nick Perusse made 14 saves in goal.

Boys’ basketball

• The Vermont boys’ basketball tournament began this week, with three of our local teams facing long bus rides in first-round games on Feb. 24.

Brattleboro finished up the regular season at 8-12 and was seeded 14th in the Division I tournament. They were scheduled to travel to Manchester to face third-seeded Burr & Burton (17-3).

Bellows Falls (2-18) got seeded 15th in Division II. They too were on the road to face second-seeded Lamoille (16-4).

Leland & Gray (8-11) ended up as the 13th seed in Division III. They travel to Orford, N.H., to play fourth-seeded Rivendell (16-4).

In Division IV, Twin Valley clinched the top seed and a first-round bye with an 18-2 record. They are scheduled to play the winner of the Feb. 24 first round game between No. 8 Whitcomb (9-11) and No. 9 Arlington (8-12) on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in a quarterfinal game in Whitingham.

Rink closes March 8

• We’ll take any sign of spring we can get at this point, so here’s one: Withington Rink at Living Memorial Park in Brattleboro will close for the season on Sunday, March 8, at 10:45 p.m.

Little League skills camp

• And here’s another sign of spring— the Brattleboro Little League will hold the first-ever B3 Brattleboro Baseball Basics indoor skills training camp.

The camp will be held from Tuesday, March 3 through Saturday, April 11, and is open to boys and girls of the League, including first year players. The goal of the camp is to develop each player’s baseball skills and prepare for the upcoming season.

This camp will focus on in-depth practice of fielding, hitting, throwing, and running, plus situational and team play using repetitive drills and games. Coaches will introduce specific drills to help players improve their skills in all phases of baseball play.

The camp will be held at the new Hilltop Montessori School gymnasium. Cost for the six-week session is $25. Register for camp by visiting the new Brattleboro Little League website at www.brattll.com. For further information, contact Little League Commissioner Dave Cyr at 802-254-2470 or redsox9@svcable.net, or call Camp Coordinator Brad Holcumbe at 908-872-4917.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #294 (Wednesday, February 25, 2015). This story appeared on page D4.

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