The drive for a state title ended March 16 for the Leland & Gray girls’ basketball team, as the third-seeded Rebels lost to second-seeded Thetford, 43-37, in a Division III semifinal at the Barre Auditorium.
This was a rough-and-tumble game dominated by defense. The first half had almost as many fouls by both teams (20) as there were points (27).
Senior forward Rachel Borgesen again was a force under the basket for the Rebels as she scored eight of the Rebels’ 12 points in the first half and 12 of the team’s 22 total rebounds.
Thetford had a 15-12 lead at the half, and then figured out a way to defensively neutralize Borgesen. She was held to just five points in the second half and finished with a game-high 13 points.
Still, the Rebels had a 26-23 lead with a minute left in the third quarter. That’s when the Panthers took control of the game with a 11-1 run. Junior Danielle Robinson came off the bench to score a team-high 11 points for Thetford before fouling out with 3:59 to play.
The Rebels tried to get back into the game, but once Thetford went on their run and had a 34-27 lead with 6:36 left in regulation, the Rebels could not put together a closing run of their own.
Emma Densmore added eight points for the Rebels, who finished their season at 16-7 after beating Poultney and Northfield in the first two rounds of the tournament.
Thetford advanced to the Division III final for the fourth straight year, and beat top-seeded Windsor, 53-52, on March 18 to win the state title.
• There was one more big event for the older Brattleboro Colonels nordic ski racers, as several competed at the U16 New England Championships at Titcomb Mountain on March 10, 11, and 12 in Farmington, Maine.
U16 is for athletes who are 14 or 15 on Dec. 31, 2016. More than 200 athletes competed from four New England states, plus an All-Star team from the Midwest. The event was held under brutal conditions, with below-zero wind chills throughout the weekend.
There were three events in the competition: a 5K Skate on Friday where the racers went off in waves of six, one minute apart; a 5K Classic race on Saturday where the racers went off in waves of three, 30 seconds apart; and 55 teams of four in a 3K mixed relay on Sunday.
The Vermont teams dominated the relay, with 11 Vermont teams finishing in the top 20. New Hampshire finished a distant second, followed closely by Maine and Massachusetts.
Overall, Vermont finished second to New Hampshire in the three-day team competition, with Maine taking third.
Individually, the Colonels did well.
Liz Morse placed 46th overall in the girls’ individual competition. She finished 37th in the 5K Classical, 34th in the 5K Freestyle, 66th in the Classic Sprint, and 42nd in the Skate Sprint.
Isaac Freitas-Eagan ended up tied for 7th overall in the boys individual standings. He was 10th in the 5K Classic race, 7th in the 5K Freestyle race, 13th in the Classic Sprint, and 6th in the 1.2K Freestyle Sprint.
• Before the U16 event, the Brattleboro nordic team learned that several of its members were selected to the 2016-17 Marble Valley League Nordic All-Star teams.
All-Stars were selected in both the Classic and Freestyle disciplines, and the Colonels had four boys and five girls recognized in both.
Brattleboro’s two-time picks are Freitas-Egan, Spencer Loggia, Galen Fletcher, and Orion Stone for the boys. Isabella Thurber, Sarah Gallagher, Ellery Loggia, Annie Takacs, and Bella Takacs were picked for the Colonel girls to be on both teams.
Evan Koch and Phelan Muller were selected to the boys’ Classic team for the Colonels, while teammates Colin Costa-Walsh made the boys’ Freestyle team, and Morse made the girls’ Freestyle team for the Colonels.
Freed, Coplan to coach South teams in all-star games
• On Saturday, March 25, the Vermont Basketball Coaches’ Association presents its Senior All-Star Day at Windsor High School.
Both of Brattleboro’s varsity coaches — girls’ coach Paul Freed and boys’ coach Jason Coplan — will be leading their respective Division I-II all-star teams representing the Southern Vermont schools.
In addition to the games, the VCBA will also have 3-point shooting contests at halftime, plus awards for this season’s thousand-point scorers, Coaches of the Year, Officials of the Year, Players of the Year, Dream Dozen, All-Star Teams, and other honors. All this and more are part of the day-long celebration of Vermont high school basketball.
The schedule of games is as follows: Division III-IV girls, 11:30 a.m.; Division III-IV boys, 1 p.m.; Division I-II girls, 3 p.m.; and Division I-II boys, 5 p.m.
Kelly Clark tries for her fifth Winter Olympics
• At 33, Kelly Clark of West Dover is the grizzled veteran of the U.S. Olympic Snowboarding Team. She has been a member for 14 years, has been to four Winter Olympics and won a gold medal and two bronzes, and has established herself as one of the best halfpipe riders in the world.
But there is no talk of retirement or passing the torch to a new generation of riders just yet. Clark is too busy trying to make it to her fifth Winter Olympics — a feat that no snowboarder has ever done.
Last month, Clark won the halfpipe competition in the official test event for the 2018 games in South Korea. She has a habit of winning these events, for Clark won the pre-Olympic test events in Italy in 2005, Canada in 2009, and Russia in 2013.
Clark’s performance at Bokwang Phoenix Park, the snowboarding venue for the 2018 games, bodes well for another run at a medal. It was her 13th career win at a World Cup event, and completed her comeback from hip surgery last March.
Her rehab and recovery took about seven months, and Clark was raring to go once she got the green light to get back on her board.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, she said that winning a gold medal wasn’t her motivation for coming back from surgery, Rather, it was a chance to return to the sport she loves for another shot competing at the highest level.
“If it was only about winning things, I probably should’ve stopped a long time ago,” she told the AP. “The motivators change over the years. But I think I still have something left to contribute, and I haven’t hit my potential, and that’s why I’m still here.”
Spin for the G Store
• On March 26, the Putney community will come together for a very important cause — finding a way to reopen the Putney General Store — as Hot Wheelz Cycle & Fitness Studio in Putney holds a “Spin for The Store” fundraiser.
As you may know, The Putney General store has been closed for some time. With the help of the Putney Historical Society, a plan is in place for the store to reopen soon, but there are many tasks the historical society must undertake to get and keep things up and running.
Starting at 9 a.m., riding will begin in a series of one-hour blocks. You can reserve a bike for one or as many blocks as you want. Each hour segment is a $20 donation to the cause. No spinning experience is necessary.
Organizers say the day’s riding isn’t about who is the strongest or who can go the fastest, rather it is about coming together and having fun as a community for a common goal. All proceeds will go to the Historical Society.
If you’ve never been on a spin bike before, they’ll help you get set up and guide you through everything you need to know. You can take advantage of all the ride has to offer, or you can just sit and pedal at your own pace, while you raise money. For more information, contact them at email@example.com, call 802-380-9137, or visit their Facebook page.
Little League signups begin this week
• Sign ups for Brattleboro Little League Baseball, for ages 9-12, will be held on March 22 and 23 at the American Legion on Linden Street, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. each day.
All players, new and returning, should sign up during these times. New players should bring proof of birth date. New players must also try out on Saturday, March 25, at 9 a.m., in the Brattleboro Union High School gym. For more information, visit www.brattll.com.
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 9 of the winter season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League saw a new team in first place, as Team 2 (30-15) are the leaders. Team 6 (28-17) is now in second and the former first place team, Team 10 (26-19) fell to third. Team 7 (25-20) is fourth, followed by Team 9 (24-21), Team 8 (21-24), Team 4 and Team 1 (both 20-25), Team 3 (16-29), and Team 5 (15-30).
Roberta Parsons had the women’s high handicap game (242) and series (693), while Peter Gilbert had the men’s high handicap game (268) and series (704). Team 3 had the high team handicap game (891) and series (2,573).
Gilbert (575), Fred Ashworth (543), Warren Corriveau Sr. (548), and Marty Adams (595) all had 500-plus series. Gilbert (225) and Adams (204, 201) were the only bowlers with 200-plus games.