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Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

Leland & Gray forward Kaie Quigley puts a body block on a Black River player while teammate Mike Fitzpatrick (24) looks on during second-half boys’ basketball action on Jan. 18 in Townshend.


Rebels, Colonels hoopsters get back on track

Even though the Leland & Gray boys’ basketball team has been struggling, they might have been feeling a little too good about themselves when they welcomed the Black River Presidents to their gym on Jan. 18.

Black River entered the Marble Valley League contest with a 1-6 record, and the Rebels figured a victory was already in the bag. Instead, it took a strong effort in the second half for Leland & Gray to subdue the Presidents and roll to a 67-37 victory.

The Rebels mostly stuck to outside shooting and built up an 18-11 lead by the end of the first quarter. But the Presidents turned up the heat on defense and outscored the Rebels 20-8 in the second quarter to lead 31-26 at the half.

“The boys were a little too overconfident in the second quarter,” said Rebels coach Brud Sanderson. “They forgot that nothing is easy in the MVL, and you have to work and you have to execute if you want to win games in this league.”

After Sanderson gave his team a verbal roasting at halftime, the Rebels came out with all the guns blazing in the third quarter and blitzed the Presidents with a 23-3 outburst that gave Leland & Gray a 49-34 lead heading into the final quarter.

Black River never recovered and the Rebels ended up with a win that wasn’t quite as automatic as they thought it would be.

“Instead of settling for outside shots, we started banging the ball inside and got our bigs involved in the scoring,” said Sanderson. “The scoring balance was great tonight.”

The balance was indeed impressive. All but two players scored, and the front line did most of the damage

Forward Christian Thomsen had 14 points, but only two of them came in the second half. He had three three-pointers in the first half.

Forward Kaie Quigley scored 11 points in the third quarter and finished with 12. Forwards Liam Towle and Mike Fitzpatrick, and center Matt Dunn all scored eight points, and guard Lucas Newton added seven.

Leland & Gray came out of the game with a 3-4 record, and Sanderson is confident that the Rebels can only get better. “As long as bring it every game, we’ll do well.”

Boys’ basketball

• Brattleboro kept its cool down the stretch, and used clutch defense and accurate free-throw shooting to get by Mill River, 60-57, on Jan. 11 in North Clarendon.

Adam Newton scored 10 of his 21 points in the final four minutes of the game, while Hunter Beebe added 16 points despite being hampered by a bad ankle. Jack Price added 10 points.

The Colonels have lost some close games so far this season against Division I powers Burlington (64-57), St. Johnsbury (65-62), and South Burlington (60-55). Against the Division II Minutemen, it looked like Brattleboro would lose another close one.

Leading by as much 10 points, 34-24, in the third quarter, Mill River rallied and Brattleboro fell behind by six points until Newton got hot in the final frantic minutes.

Aidan Botti led Mill River with 21 points, but the Minutemen were lousy at the free throw line, converting 12 of their 25 attempts. Meanwhile, Newton went 5-for-5 from the line for the Colonels’ final five points.

The Colonels kept the momentum from that win going on Jan. 18, when they traveled to Windsor and beat the Yellowjackets, 49-44. Newton scored 17 points and Jack Price added 14 as they helped Brattleboro rally from a 35-28 deficit heading into the final quarter. Brattleboro finished the week at 5-5.

• Jack McHale scored 23 points as Twin Valley rolled over Arlington, 65-41, on Jan. 11 in Whitingham. Issak Park and Owen Grinwold both had career-high nights as they poured in 17 and 15 points, respectively, for the Wildcats.

In a 54-37 road win over West Rutland on Jan. 17, Twin Valley got off to a fast start and cruised from there. The Wildcats led by as many as 31 points in the first half as Colin McHale scored a career-high 19 points and Grinold added 10 points as the Wildcats improved to 4-4.

Girls’ basketball

• Windsor won the Division III girls’ basketball state championship last season. They have a pretty good team this season, led by junior guard Olivia Rockwood.

Brattleboro found that out the hard way in a 38-28 loss to the Yellowjackets at the BUHS gym on Jan. 11.

Rockwood scored 22 points, including going a 7-0 run late in the first half that put Windsor out in front to stay. On defense, Windsor used a full-court press from the opening tip, and flustered the Colonels into numerous turnovers.

Lauren McKinney led the Colonels with eight points, Hailey Derosia chipped in seven, and Alyssa Scherlin and Lauren Sargent each added six.

On Jan. 19, the Colonels were beaten by Mount Mansfield in Jericho, 35-31. Brattleboro lost Derosia to an ankle injury in the first quarter, but kept battling back. Scherlin picked up the slack with 13 points and seven rebounds, while McKenney had nine points, six rebounds, and four steals for the 5-6 Colonels.

• Bellows Falls also found out how well Rockwell and the Yellowjackets are playing, as Windsor handed the visiting Terriers their first loss of the season on Jan. 19.

Rockwood sank five three-point shots and finished with 29 points as Windsor beat Bellows Falls, 63-46. The Yellowjackets zipped out to a 15-5 lead in the first quarter and maintained the momentum the rest of the way.

Addie Prior also had a pair of three-pointers and finished with 10 points. In all, the 8-3 Yellowjackets made nine three-pointers as a team. Halle Dickinson led the 8-1 Terriers with 17 points.

• On a night when Mount St. Joseph raised a banner to honor the 2017-18 Division IV state girls’ basketball champions, this season’s squad showed why they have a shot at a fifth-straight state title with a 41-25 win over visiting Leland & Gray on Jan. 11.

Despite losing nine players from last season’s championship team, MSJ has five players back to form the core of this season’s team. The Rebels did their best to spoil the Mounties’ party by taking a 9-7 lead after the first quarter, but MSJ outscored the Rebels 9-0 in the second quarter for a 16-9 lead at the half.

Julia Lee led the Mounties with 16 points. She scored them all in the second and third quarters as MSJ quickly crushed any hope of a Rebel rally in the second half.

Sydney Hescock led Leland & Gray with 12 points. Skye Richardson added six and Arin Bates scored four.

• You don’t often see two basketball teams using full-court press defenses against each other. That’s because the amount of energy that’s needed to break the press on offense precludes a team from countering with a press defense when the opposition has the ball.

That blueprint was thrown out the window in Whitingham on Jan. 15, as Twin Valley and Black River tried to press each other into oblivion in a game that the late, great Celtics announcer Johnny Most would’ve called “a muscle tussle.”

Twin Valley came out on top, 52-26, in a grinding game that showcased the Wildcats’ defensive prowess. Twin Valley had 24 steals and controlled the boards.

Jayden Crawford had 10 points, nine rebounds, and six steals for the Wildcats. Jarrett Niles led all scorers with 13 points, while Kylie Reed had nine points, 14 rebounds, and four steals and Katelyn Longe had eight points and 11 rebounds.

Ice hockey

• After a 0-6 start to the season, the Brattleboro girls are starting to hit their stride. The Colonels’ 2-1 win over Spaulding on Jan. 16 at Withington Rink was their third win in a row.

The heroines of this game were the skaters on the Colonels’ penalty kill as they held the Crimson Tide scoreless in all four of their power plays.

The teams traded goals in the first period as Juliana Miskovich scored for Brattleboro just 2:30 into the game. Analie Choquette got the equalizer for Spaulding just five minutes later. Rosie Carignan then put the Colonels in front to stay at the 10 minute mark.

But it took some doing to make that one-goal lead hold up. First, with about three minutes left in the first period, Colonels goalie Eliya Petrie picked up a game misconduct and an automatic ejection for spearing a Spaulding player with her stick.

That left the Colonels with five skaters and no goalie, as they did not have a backup netminder dressed and ready to play. But the Colonels, led by defender Tobin Lonergan, survived that challenge and prevented Spaulding from tying the game while the Colonels were goalie-less.

Natalie Gadowski was ready to take over in goal for the Colonels by the time the second period began, and she was perfect in the second and third periods. And, despite being shorthanded for so much of the game, the Colonels kept up the pressure on offense.

The gritty win improved the Colonels girls’ record to 3-6.

• The Brattleboro boys lost to Hartford, 1-0, on Jan. 16. The road loss left the Colonel boys with a 3-3-3 record.

Senior bowling roundup

• Team 7 (14-1) took sole possession of first place after Week 3 of the winter season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl. Team 10 (13-2) slid down to second place, and Team 4 (12-3) is now in third place. Team 11 (11-4) is in fourth place, followed by Team 2 (10-5), Team 5 (9-6), Team 6 and Team 3 (both 6-9), Team 9 (4-11), Team 1 and Team 12 (both 2-13), and Team 8 (1-14).

Shirley Aiken had the women’s high handicap game (248), while Beth Armington had the high handicap series (654). Bruce Thielen had the men’s high handicap game (300) and series (714), while Team 4 had the high team handicap game (898) and series (2,639).

In scratch scoring, Robert Rigby rolled a 238, a 227, and a 207 on the way to a 672 series.

Josie Rigby (557) again was the lone woman with a 500-plus series. She was joined by Warren Corriveau Jr. (528), Gary Montgomery (513), and Peter Cross (507).

Theilen (202) was the only other male bowler to top 200 for a single game, while Josie Rigby rolled a 200 and a 183 to lead the women, followed by Aiken with a 189.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #494 (Wednesday, January 23, 2019). This story appeared on page C4.

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