With back-to-back undefeated championship seasons in soccer and a total of only four losses on the basketball court over two seasons, the Twin Valley boys know what it takes to be victorious.
It wasn’t a shock that the top-seeded Wildcats blew out No. 9 Arlington, 69-41. in a Division IV basketball quarterfinal in Whitingham on Feb. 27. They had already beat the Eagles, 53-26, on Jan. 20, and 54-28 in the regular season finale on Feb. 19.
But Wildcats coach Chris Brown wanted to make sure that there were no letdowns. He said he told his players before the game to strike first, strike hard, and make sure any thoughts of an upset by Arlington were erased early.
After the customary slow start by the Wildcats, they scored the knockout blow early, going on a 22-0 run over the last six minutes of the opening quarter. Only a buzzer beater by Arlington’s Nathan Mattison spoiled the shutout.
Brett Swanson led the first quarter blitz for the Wildcats, scoring the first 10 points of the run. A swarming defense prevented Arlington from establishing any kind of rhythm on offense as Twin Valley forced numerous turnovers that were quickly turned into points.
Skylar Boyd hit a pair of three-pointers in the second quarter as the Wildcats outscored the Eagles, 18-4, and took a 40-8 lead at the half.
Twin Valley’s reserves played most of the second half on a night where every player in the lineup got into the scoring column. Boyd led all scorers with 11 points. and Justin Hicks added nine.
“We played hard, we played smart, and we played together,” said Brown of his team. “[Arlington] did not hit a contested shot in the entire half. I told them at halftime that if they can play with that intensity in Barre, we’re going to be really hard to beat.”
The Wildcats earned a trip to the Barre Auditorium for the second straight season to face the No. 4 Proctor Phantoms in the semifinals on March 2. But the championship drive for Twin Valley ended there, with a 39-35 loss to the Phantons.
Despite beating Proctor twice by wide margins in the regular season, the game at the Aud was a defensive struggle that was close throughout, and Twin Valley couldn’t seal the deal at the end. The Wildcats’ season ended with an 19-3 record.
• It was one and done for the other three local teams in the opening round of their respective state tournaments on Feb. 24.
No. 14 Brattleboro were soundly beaten by the third-seeded Burr & Burton Bulldogs, 61-36, in Manchester in Division I. Joe Shehadi led the Bulldogs with a 17 point, five steal performance. Taylor Meunch added 13 points for the 18-3 Bulldogs. Dillon DeJordy and Tanner Freeman were the 8-13 Colonels’ top scorers with eight points each.
Second-seed Lamoille rolled over visiting No. 15 Bellows Falls, 71-35, in Division II. Eric Hoadley scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the third quarter, while Riley Fitzgerald, Evan Slayton, and Terrell Baker each added nine points for Lamoille (17-4). Jake Mead had 10 points to lead Bellows Falls (2-19).
And fourth-seeded Rivendell crushed visiting No. 13 Leland & Gray, 87-49, in Division III. Kolin Huntington led the Raptors with a game-high 27 points, Tim Stimson added 16 points and Shamus Peyton chipped in with 12 points for the Raptors (17-4). Leland & Gray finished the season at 8-12.
• The elation of beating Stowe in the first round of the Division II playoffs gave way to the realization that, for eighth-seeded Brattleboro, the reward for the victory was facing the top-seeded team in the division after a long bus ride to the Canadian border.
The Colonels did what they could, but were shutout by the Falcons, 5-0, in a quarterfinal game in Jay on Feb. 25.
Brattleboro knew what they were in for, having lost to the Falcons by an identical 5-0 score in Jay on Dec. 20.
Senior center Whitney Bernier scored two goals, giving her 50 goals for the season. Her first goal came just 3:40 into the first period and got her 50th goal four minutes into the second period. Bernier has averaged a goal a game in her high school career and racked up 21 goals and four assists in just her first eight games of the season.
The Falcons also got scoring help from Emilie Paul (a goal and 2 assists) and Savannah Alberghini-Giroux and Anyas Morin (one goal each). Goalie Mikaella Doran made 18 saves for the shutout.
Brattleboro netminder Keagan Jameson stopped 25 shots. The Colonels finished up with a 6-16 record.
• Brattleboro’s Declan King was 22nd and Isabella Thurber was 25th at the state nordic freestyle championships at the Craftsbury Nordic Center on Feb. 26.
King covered the boys’ 5-kilometer course in 15:47.9. Issac Freitas-Eagan was 33rd in 16:45.3, followed by Spencer Loggia in 47th, Josh Meachen in 48th, Phelan Muller in 50th, Tyler Clement in 53rd, and Dan Burdo in 73rd.
The Brattleboro boys relay team of Freitas-Eagan, Muller, Loggia, and King came in seventh in the 4 X 2.5-kilometer race.
Thurber led the Colonel girls with a time of 19:51.2. Catey Yost was 54th in 22:23.2, followed Alicia Loyola in 60th, Annie Takacs in 71st, and Evy Williams in 75th.
The Brattleboro girls’ 4 X 2.5 kilometer relay team of Thurber, Abbie Foley, Loyola, and Yost finished 11th in 49:09.
Overall, Brattleboro was seventh in the boys’ meet and 11th in the girls’ meet heading into the state classical events, scheduled for March 3 at Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton.
• Some of the Brattleboro skiers tuned up for the state meet with a 5-kilometer freestyle race held at Strafford Nordic Center on Feb. 21. Yost finished fifth and Meachen came in eighth to lead the Colonel teams.
Also competing for the Brattleboro girls was Takacs, who ended up 23rd overall in her first varsity race. Dan Burdo (11th) and Spencer Loggia were representing the BUHS boys along with Meachen.
• Meanwhile, a trio of Colonels participated in the Vermont Elite Team Qualifiers in Craftsbury. Thurber was 19th in the classic race and 22nd in the skate. Thurber will be part of the Vermont J2/U16 Elite Team that will compete later this month in Fort Kent, Maine.
Freitas-Eagan was 29th in the classic race and 27th in the skate for J2s, and King was 33rd in the classic race and 35th in the skate for J1s.
PVA Hockey goes to Vermont State Tournament
• Pleasant Valley Hockey Association’s Midget team has advanced to the Vermont State Championship game on March 7 at Cairns Arena in South Burlington.
PVA will face the midget team from St. Albans for the third straight year. The team will also be playing in the Tech Valley League championship game in the midget B division on March 28 in Clifton Park, N.Y. The PVA’s Midget Team ended their season with an overall record of 16-6-2 with 160 goals and 145 assists.
In other PVA Hockey news, the Peewee Team ended the season with a 14-18-5 record. The team made 618 shots on goal during the season with 105 goals and 58 assists. The team was coached by Charles Harriman, assisted by Keith Stack and Albert Bupp.
The PVA Tiger’s Squirt Team ended the season with a 19-17-4 record. The team made 157 goals with 57 assists. The team was coached by Dean Walz and Ken Hayes and assistant coach Chris Davidson.
Teams sought for Bowl for Kids’ Sake benefit
• Families, friends and teams from work are invited to celebrate the 34th Annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake to benefit Youth Services’ Big Brothers Big Sisters program on Saturday, April 4. The fundraising event will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with teams signing up now for a one-hour time slot at Brattleboro Bowl on Putney Road.
Bowl For Kids’ Sake is the primary fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters, a Youth Services’ program that matches youth in Windham County in need of a one-to-one relationship with caring adult mentors. The goal of the event is to raise $55,000 in pledge money to help cover the cost of running the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Close to a hundred children in Windham County and nearby New Hampshire benefit from the program each year and are matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister. A similar number of youngsters, from all towns in the county, are eagerly waiting to be matched with an adult mentor.
Call Youth Services at 802-257-0361 for pledge sheets and to reserve a lane or for more information about becoming involved.
• The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department will offer a youth indoor soccer program at the Gibson-Aiken Center for girls and boys in grades K-6 beginning the week of March 9 for five weeks.
This program will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. as follows: Mondays, Grades K-2; Tuesdays, Grades 3 and 4; and Wednesdays, Grades 5 and 6. Children will be broken up into small groups and pick-up games will be played. The focus will be on having fun. Scores will not be kept and shin guards and sneakers are required.
The cost is $10 for residents and $25 for non-residents. For more information, call 802-254-5808.