The Vermont boys’ high school basketball playoffs start this week, but only one local team will have a home game.
• Twin Valley knew what it was playing for heading into the final week of the regular season — win the last three games of the regular season, and they would clinch the top seed in Division IV.
Bellows Falls foiled that plan with a 51-41 win in Whitingham on Feb. 26. So, when the two teams met for a rematch in Westminster on Feb. 28, Twin Valley was determined to get a win. It took a strong second half to do it, but the Wildcats left Holland Gymnasium with a 57-37 victory over BF.
The Terriers led 17-12 at the end of the first quarter, as Ryan Kelly scored eight points for BF. Dylan Howe had the hot hand for Twin Valley and made three three-pointers in the first half.
It was 25-all at halftime, but Jack McHale got hot for the Wildcats and scored 10 points in the third quarter. Twin Valley opened the quarter with a 10-0 run in the first four minutes and led 43-30 heading into the final quarter.
Izaak Park then finished off the Terriers with an 8-for-12 performance from the free throw line in the fourth. Park led all scorers with 17 points. McHale added 16 and Howe chipped in with 11.
Kelly finished with 10 points for BF, Isaac Wilkinson and Dylan Clark added nine and eight points, respectively.
Twin Valley ended the season with a 55-30 win at Leland & Gray on March 1. That left Twin Valley tied with Danville and Poultney for first place with identical 14-6 records.
Using index points as the tiebreaker, Danville got the top seed, Poultney was seeded second, and Twin Valley fell to third. That’s how costly the loss to BF was to the Wildcats’ playoff seeding.
The good news is that, as the third seed, Twin Valley won’t see Poultney until the semifinals in Barre, assuming both teams advance, and wouldn’t see Danville until the championship game in Barre.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, Twin Valley needs to beat No. 14 Mid-Vermont Christian (5-15) in a first-round game that was scheduled for March 5 in Whitingham.
• Bellows Falls finished with wins in four of their last five games to finish the regular season at 10-10, but ended up with the No. 14 seed in Division II.
That’s mostly due to BF’s Marble Valley League schedule that is filled with Division III and IV opponents and saddled the Terriers with a lower index rating. The Terriers head north to face No. 3 Lake Region (13-5) on March 6 in a first-round game.
• Brattleboro finished the regular season strong, with a 74-62 road win over Hartford on Feb. 26 and a 71-57 home win over Mount Anthony on March 1.
The Colonels’ 12-8 record got them the No. 10 seed in Division I, which meant they were on the road for the first round of the playoffs.
The good news is that they don’t need to go far. They’ll be in Manchester on March 6 to face the No. 7 Burr & Burton Bulldogs (13-6). The two teams split the regular season series, with the Bulldogs winning at home on Jan. 22, 64-57, and the Colonels winning at home, 53-46, on Feb. 15.
• Leland & Gray finished the regular season with a 4-16 record and got the No. 13 seed in Division III. The Rebels were scheduled for a trip to Lamoille on March 5 to take on fourth-seeded Peoples Academy (15-5).
• During the regular season, Colonels coach Paul Freed talked about the need to diversify the offense and not solely rely on the top three scorers — Hailey Derosia, Rachael Rooney, and Lauren McKinney.
But in the Colonels’ opening game in the Division I playoffs, it was time for Freed to toss the keys to the Big Three and let them do their thing.
Derosia scored a game-high 25 points as 10th-seeded Brattleboro used a 15-4 second quarter to put away the No. 7 Mount Mansfield Cougars, 69-41, in Jericho on Feb. 26.
Rooney scored 14 points and McKenney added 10 for the visiting Colonels, who led 31-19 at the half, and 50-29 after three quarters. Jillian Laughlin led the Cougars with 12 points.
The Colonels’ reward for the win was another long bus ride on March 1, this time to St. Johnsbury to take on the second-seeded Hilltoppers in the Division I quarterfinals.
The two teams faced each other earlier in the season, and the result was a 61-30 home win for the Toppers on Dec. 15. This game was not that much different as the defending Division I champions crushed the Colonels with a 19-0 run to open the game and went to cruise to a 68-26 win.
It’s not that the Colonels played that badly in the first quarter. They had good looks at the basket, but the shots were not falling and the Toppers controlled the boards and kept Brattleboro from getting any second chance shots. Meanwhile, the Toppers’ Big 3 — Sadie Stetson, Josie Choniere, and Neva Bostic — were scoring at will.
By the time Brattleboro got its first points — a Derosia free throw with 3.9 seconds left — the Colonels were trailing, 19-1. Stetson, Choniere, and Bostic combined for eight three-pointers in the first half, as St. Johnsbury easily handled the Colonels’ zone defense and finished the half with a 41-8 lead.
To Brattleboro’s credit, they played hard in the second half, but the outcome was never in doubt. Stetson finished with 17 points, Bostic scored 16, and Choiniere and Lara Rohkohl added 13 each for the 20-2 Toppers.
Derosia led the 11-11 Colonels with 13 points, eight rebounds, and four steals. Lauryn Sargent had three points to go with her six rebounds, while McKenney had two points and seven rebounds.
• It’s tough to beat a team three times in a season. That is among the hoariest axioms of high school sports, based in the logic that if you’ve played a team twice during the regular season and won both games, the third meeting during the playoffs is going to have a completely different outcome.
The Springfield Cosmos, who swept the season series with Bellows Falls, emphatically blew up that myth on Feb. 27 with a 54-42 win over the Terriers in the opening round of the Division II girls’ basketball playoffs at historic Dressel Gymnasium.
The cavernous old gym was packed, a reflection of the intense and longtime rivalry between BF and Springfield. What the fans of the seventh-seeded Cosmos got a chance to witness was an epic comeback to blow away the 10th-seeded Terriers’ hopes for a long run in the playoffs.
Trailing 40-27 with 1:36 left in the third quarter, the Cosmos outscored BF, 27-2, in the remainder of the game. Hannah Crosby scored 14 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, while Gabby Wardwell scored 16 points and pulled down 16 rebounds.
Even more shocking was this statistic — Springfield was 16-for-25 at the free throw line, while BF was 2-for-2 and did not get a free throw opportunity after the first quarter of the game.
The Terriers, 15-5 during the regular season, suddenly lost their scoring touch in the final 8 minutes of this game, while the Cosmos turned up the defensive pressure and turned the tide.
• Ninth-seeded Twin Valley lost to No. 8 Twinfield, 48-32, in a Division IV first-round game on Feb. 27.
Olivia Hogan scored 16 points for the victors. Ivy Quintin and Ashlyn Hogan chipped in with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Maria Page scored a game-high 17 points for the Wildcats, who finished the season at 5-16.
• Despite a 5-3 loss to Colchester in their regular season finale on Feb. 27, the Brattleboro boys finished with a 6-8-6 record and earned the No. 7 seed in the Division II boys’ hockey playoffs and a March 2 home game against the No. 10 Hartford Hurricanes in the opening round.
The Colonels got the job done to advance to the quarterfinals with a 4-1 win over the Hurricanes at Withington Rink on March 2.
Hartford’s Jacob Derosier scored the game’s first goal with 12:04 left in the second period. But teammate Kyle Hamilton was hit with a five-minute major penalty with about six minutes left in the period, and the Colonels took advantage with two power play goals.
Joe Koes got the equalizer with 3:01 left off a crossing pass from Jack Pattison. Brattleboro then got the go-ahead goal a minute later, when Anthony Palomba scored. Nathan Powers and Ryan Gerard were credited with assists.
The Colonels got a pair of insurance goals in the final period. Pattison got his second goal at even strength, while Mason Foard scored Brattleboro’s third power play goal of the night with an assist by Palomba. Austin Wood played a steady game in goal for the Colonels, especially in the final period when Hartford pressed hard to get back into the game.
Next up for the Colonels is a trip north on March 6 to face the second-seeded Missisquoi Thunderbirds (15-3-1).
• The Brattleboro girls beat Champlain Valley, 3-1, on Feb. 27 to finish up the regular season at 7-12-1. Liz Day and Tobin Lonergan gave Brattleboro a 2-0 lead after the first period, and Julianna Miskovich also scored for the Colonels.
That win clinched the sixth seed in the Division II girls’ hockey playoffs. At press time, Brattleboro was set to travel to Barre to play a quarterfinal match against third-seeded U-32 (9-10-1) on March 5.
Spring ski party at Memorial Park
• Another season is winding down at the Brattleboro Ski Hill at Living Memorial Park, and the hard-working volunteers that kept the hill open during this roller-coaster of a winter are celebrating with a March Madness snow party on Saturday, March 9, from noon until 4 p.m.
There will be free hot dogs and beverages, and S’mores-making by the fire pit. Come dressed in costume, if you’re feeling especially exuberant, and you will have the opportunity to win a first place prize, or a lift ticket to Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow.
As always, an all-day lift ticket for skiers and snowboarders is just $5 — still the best deal going for family-friendly winter fun.
The hill is operated by Living Memorial Snow Sports Inc., a nonprofit that relies totally on volunteers and private donations to keep alive the tradition of skiing and snowboarding in Brattleboro. For more information, visit www.vtsnowsports.org.
Senior bowling roundup
Team 10 (32-13) is the new leader after Week 9 of the winter season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl. Team 3 (31-14) is now just a game behind in second place while the previous league leader, Team 4 (29-16), is now third.
Team 9 (28-17) moved up to fourth place, followed by Team 7 (27-18), Team 2 (24-21), Team 11 (23-22), Team 8 (20-25), Team 5 (19-26), Team 6 (14-31), Team 1 (13-32), and Team 12 (10-35).
Nancy Dalzell had the women’s high handicap game (250) and series (713), while Doug Switzer had the men’s high handicap game (266) and Gordon Evans had the high handicap series (700). Team 2 had the high team handicap game (881) and Team 1 had the high handicap series (2,569).
In scratch scoring, Warren Corriveau Sr. rolled a 209 and a 207 for a 597 series to lead the men. Peter Cross had a 204 game as part of his 566 series. Jerry Dunham (537) was the only other male with a 500-plus series.
Dazell rolled a 199 and a 192 as part of her 560 series to lead the women, while Josie Rigby rolled a 188 on her way to a 510 series.
Switzer (213) also rolled a 200-plus game, while Debbie Kolpa had a 186.
Hunter education course offered
• There will be a Hunter/Bowhunter Combination Course offered at Sportsmen Inc. in Guilford, starting on April 1. Don Rosinski will be lead Instructor.
This is a six-night course that will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. on April 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, and 12. Students under age 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Seats are limited. For more details, visit the Vermont Fish and Wildlife website at vtfishandwildlife.com/hunt/hunter-education and click on “Find a Hunter Ed Course.”