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Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

The doubles team of Aew Ladd, left, and Sun Jin take on Sam Pilo and Jon Mack (not in picture) during a pickleball session last week at the Gibson-Aiken Center in Brattleboro.


Colonel boys open hockey season with a pair of losses

Brattleboro boys’ hockey head coach Eric Libardoni has no illusions about how difficult of a season it will for the Colonels.

There are only four seniors on the team, and the learning curve will steep for the underclassmen.

“We going to be tested every night,” said Libardoni after an 8-0 loss to Woodstock in the season opener on Dec. 2 at Withington Rink.

Woodstock used speed and aggressive forechecking to keep the Colonels’ offensive attack bottled up.

“They got to play on our end of the ice,” said Libardoni. “They moved the puck well and generally controlled it most of the night. It’s hard to have a good vibe on the bench when you’re playing defense all the time.”

Woodstock took a 3-0 lead after one period on goals by Braden McCarthy, Steven Townley, and Luc Issa.

Brattleboro played its best hockey in the second period, but still couldn’t get anything going on offense. Issa picked up another goal midway through the second and Josh Kennedy scored with 4 seconds left to push the lead to 5-0.

Woodstock finished with three more goals in the third. Townley and Kennedy each potted their second, and Issa picked up his third goal to complete the Wasps’ offensive barrage.

Last Saturday, the Colonels traveled to Northfield and found some of the offense that eluded them against Woodstock, but still came up short against the Marauders in a 5-3 loss.

Cory Doney had three goals and an assist for Northfield, while Garrett Bean and Mitchell Goodrich also scored. Jackson Clayton had three assists. Perusse made 29 saves in goal for the Colonels, while Northfield goalie Matthew Aubut stopped 13 shots.

Miles Hiler, Evan Perkins, and Mason Powers each scored a goal for the 0-2 Colonels.

Colonel girls open with loss

• It looked like a promising debut last Saturday night for the Brattleboro girls’ hockey team, as the Colonels led Woodstock, 1-0, after two periods.

However, Woodstock flipped the script and scored four goals in the final eight minutes of the third period for a stunning 4-1 win over Brattleboro at Withington Rink.

The Wasps got unassisted goals from Sadie Kuhn, Hannah Coates, Audrey Lee, and Anna Hepler. It was the second straight win for Woodstock after snapping a 61-game winless streak with victory in their season opener.

Rebel girls win opener

• Leland & Gray got dealt a bad hand before the 2015-16 girls’ basketball season even started, after three varsity starters from last season’s squad suffered serious knee injuries during soccer season, including captain Jordan Gouger.

That left head coach Terry Merrow with no seniors and only two returning varsity players, junior point guard Jesse Stockwell and junior forward Rachel Borgesen.

Even though she’s out for the season, Gouger was named team captain along with Stockwell and Borgesen. They will lead a team that has five ninth-graders and three sophomores. These young players would normally play on the junior varsity, but the Rebels did not have enough players to field a full JV team, so they will do without.

The Rebels got their first test on Dec. 3 in Townshend, and they passed it with a 34-22 win in the season opener against the Arlington Eagles.

Merrow said after the game that defense was the key to the win. “Rachel set the tone with her intensity, and the freshmen kept their composure. For a group that’s inexperienced, they played well.”

Leland & Gray held Arlington scoreless through the first 11:30 of the game and led 17-4 at the half. The Eagles’ top scorer, Riley Lane, was held scoreless in the first half. She finished with nine points.

“We shut down [Arlington’s] key players in the first half,” said Merrow. “Our ball pressure worked well, and took away their dribble drive [offense.]”

Arlington chipped away at the lead in the second half, but never truly threatened the Rebels. Borgesen led the Rebels with nine points, while junior forward Caroline Tietz scored all of her eight points in the second half in her first varsity action. Hannah Buffum and Stockwell chipped in six and five points, respectively.

“We missed a lot of shots, but it’s the first game of the season,” said Merrow. “The good thing is that we got to play everybody, and that is what we’re building toward.”

Boys’ basketball

• Skyler Boyd and DJ Lazelle played huge games to help Twin Valley win their season opener, 69-41, over Rivendell in Whitingham last Saturday.

Boyd scored 25 points and pulled down 15 rebounds to lead the Wildcats, while Lazelle finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots. Zack Gray was Rivendell’s top scorer with 17 points.

• Leland & Gray thumped Springfield, 57-21, in the season opener for both teams on Dec. 2 in Springfield.

Nick Morrow and Jeremy Bovat led the Rebels with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

Girls’ basketball

Despite missing two starters, Rivendell dominated Twin Valley in a 38-19 win last Saturday in Whitingham in the season opener for both teams.

Mikayla DeBois led the Raptors with 12 points, Riley Thomson added 10 points, and Nicole Wurtz scored nine. Leah Rutherford came off the bench to add seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Pickleball at the Gibson-Aiken Center

• Most people know Sam Pilo as the guy behind the Actors Theatre Playhouse. Not many know him as an evangelist for the sport of pickleball.

What is pickleball? It is a mashup of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. The net is low, as in tennis. The court is small, as in badminton. The racquet one uses looks like an oversized ping pong paddle. And the ball one uses is fluorescent green, hollow with holes like a Whiffle Ball, and about the size of a softball.

The game itself can be as leisurely or as fast-paced as one likes. It has become very popular among the over-50 crowd as a court game less strenuous than tennis. If you want more information about the game, visit the U.S. Pickleball Association website at uspa.org.

Sam invited me to an afternoon session of pickleball at the Gibson-Aiken Center in Brattleboro. A pair of nets were set up in the gymnasium and, before long, Sam and his friends were egging me on to play a game.

Becky Day was my doubles partner for the trial game that the Pickleball gang finally convinced me to play after I took my photographs for this column. She coached me on where to stand on the court and what to do. Considering I hadn’t picked up a racquet of any kind in decades, I was extremely rusty.

Played on an indoor basketball court, you quickly notice that the ball doesn’t bounce very high, so you have to move to the ball as soon as it strikes the floor and not wait for it to come to you. I whiffed on several volleys hit to me, hit several others into the net, and made solid contact with about one ball in 10.

Becky and I lost badly, but I emerged with my health and dignity more or less entact. Fortunately, the Pickleball gang is a low-key group. They are there more for the exercise than for competition, and are willing to put up with an out-of-shape, potbellied newspaperman, at least for one game.

Sam said that the pickleball games, which started up about three years ago, can draw up to 20 people to the gym. Game times are 11:45 a.m. on Mondays, 1:20 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays, and 9 a.m. on Wednesdays. Nets, balls, and paddles are provided by the Recreation & Parks Deparment, so all you need are sneakers, a water bottle, and a willingness to have fun.

Jesse Cudworth, assistant director of the Brattleboro Senior Center and the Recreation & Parks Deparment, said that pickleball has gotten so popular, it has replaced the Senior Center’s badminton and whiffleball groups.

Sam also wanted put in a plug for his Thursday bocce games, played at 1 p.m. in the gymnastics room of the Gibson-Aiken Center. Stop by, or email sampilo@gmail.com for more information.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #335 (Wednesday, December 9, 2015). This story appeared on page E4.

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