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Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

The Brattleboro Unified basketball team awaits their introductions before the start of the home opener against Otter Valley on March 28.


BUHS Unified basketball wins home opener

Brattleboro got off to a tough start in Unified basketball with road losses to Hartford and Burr & Burton to open the season.

Turns out all the Colonels needed was a little home cooking to set them right.

A large and enthusiastic crowd in the BUHS gym saw the Colonels beat the Otter Valley Otters, 41-38, on March 28.

Colonels coach Todd Bell says he has 10 new players, all of them ninth-graders, so there definitely is a learning curve this season.

But the Colonels have two players who were on the 2017 state championship team, shooting guard Kayli Nicholson and power forward Zachary Smith. Bell says both are reliable scorers whose skills complement each other well.

Smith, a senior, is the biggest player on the team and the go-to guy for inside scoring. He had 16 points against the Otters and Bell said Smith routinely draws double- and triple-coverage from opposing teams.

“Zac always works hard in practice to show the younger players what they need to know,” said Bell. “The other teams we play know about Zac and try to slow him down, but that offers opportunities for the other players to score.”

Smith scored eight points in the first quarter as the Colonels went on a 12-2 run to start the game. Trailing 14-8 at the start of the second quarter, the Otters outscored the Colonels, 12-6, as Brattleboro’s lead dwindled to 20-18 at the half.

Nicholson wasn’t her usual sharpshooter self in the game, scoring only four points. However, her teammates picked up the slack. Joanie Tuttle provided some instant offense in the third quarter, scoring three straight baskets as the Colonels held on to a slim 30-28 lead heading into the final quarter.

Smith was held scoreless in the third, but scored six points, including the game-winning basket, in the fourth. Tyler Bolduc added a three-pointer and Nicholson got one of her two baskets in the final minutes.

Also getting into the scorebook was Justin Weigel, who scored four points in the second quarter. Bolduc finished with five points, and Ashley Haskins, Robert Chaffee, and Silvia Galdamez each scored a basket.

“That’s the most points we’ve scored so far,” Bell said. “It’s great to see them come together and improve with every game.”

Bell was also happy with the new seating arrangement he worked out for the games in the BUHS Gym. By pulling out just one side of the bleachers, the fans sit together on one side of the gym and the players sit on the other side.

“We have a little more privacy on our side,” Bell said.

But the gym was still loud, especially in the final minutes when the packed student section was chanting “Let’s go, Colonels!”

In other words, like any other basketball game, and thus illustrating the goal of Unified sports.

Sticking up for the kids

Unified basketball, which joins student athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team, is a collaboration between Special Olympics Vermont and the Vermont Principals’ Association.

Brattleboro was one of the first schools to join up when Unified basketball debuted as an interscholastic sport in 2016.

“It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding,” according to the team’s mission statement, which was read to the fans before the game. “Having sport in common is just one way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away and students are given the opportunity to build more inclusive schools.”

Special Olympics was in the news last week when the Trump administration proposed cutting $18 million in spending for the program in the 2020 fiscal year federal budget. After receiving intense criticism from every point on the political spectrum, the Trump administration backed off.

According to The Associated Press, the proposed cut contained in the Education Department’s annual budget amounted to about 10 percent of Special Olympics’ annual funding. The other 90 percent comes from individual and corporate donors.

The Trump administration tried cutting Special Olympics funding in the FY 2019 budget, and Congress not only rejected the request, but added a little more money. By all indications, Congress was going to do the same thing with the FY 2020 request.

The folks in the White House would do well to take to heart the words I quoted from the BUHS Unified basketball mission statement. The amount of criticism that the Trump administration received is proof that most Americans believe that using sport to build friendship and understanding is something worth supporting with our tax dollars.

Tulip Trot coming up soon

• Green Street School’s annual Tulip Trot 5K Run/Walk and Sprout Sprint is set for Saturday, May 4, at 9:30 a.m.

This is a family run/walk event that starts and ends at Green Street School in Brattleboro. The 5K (3.1 mile) course winds through neighborhood roads and scenic wooded trails. You challenge your mind and body by taking on “The Big Hill” behind the famous Harris Hill Ski Jump.

The 5K ends in a festive fashion at Green Street School where there will be music, refreshments, a bake sale, plenty of water, a playground and indoor restrooms.

Proceeds from the event directly benefit the students of Green Street School by providing enrichment initiatives by the dedicated Parent-Teacher Organization. Learn more at www.tuliptrot5k.com.

BOC sets paddling schedule

The Brattleboro Outing Club will host 11 Paddle Trips this year from May to October. No reservations are necessary (except for the August camping trip); just show up, with your own boat or board, and related gear. Life jackets (PFDs) are required on all BOC outings.

The Paddling program is free and open to the public, and totally underwritten by donations, and the proceeds from the BOC’s annual consignment sale and swap of canoes, kayaks, rowboats, rowing shells, stand-up paddle boards, small sailboats, and related gear.

BOC’s 20th annual sale/swap will be held on Saturday, May 11, at the Outlet Center, 580 Canal St., near Interstate 91 Exit 1, I-91. Swaps will take place from 11:30 a.m. to noon, with the sale following from noon to 2 p.m.

Consignments will be accepted on Friday, May 10, from noon to 2 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Special arrangements can also be made. Trailered boats will be accepted on Saturday only.

No motors, or motorboats, will be accepted. Owners set the prices, and BOC retains 10 percent of the final sale price. Donations of usable boats and gear are greatly appreciated.

The paddling schedule includes two trips on the Connecticut River — along the Hinsdale, N.H. “setbacks” on May 8 and between Bellows Falls and Walpole, N.H., on May 26.

On May 29, there will be a paddle on Sherman Reservoir, which straddles Whitingham and Monroe, Mass. A trip to Tully Lake in Royalston, Mass., is set for June 5, while June 19 is the date for a paddle down the Ashuelot River in Keene, N.H.

The start of summer on June 22 will be celebrated with a sunrise paddle and picnic at Harriman Reservoir in Wilmington.

An overnight excursion on the Connecticut River between Wells River and Bradford, Vt., happens on Aug. 24 and 25, while a late-summer paddle on the Connecticut at Herricks Cove in Rockingham is planned for Sept. 18.

On Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, a “Leader’s Choice” paddle is planned for wherever the colors are peaking, and there will be a Sept. 28 trip to Somerset Reservoir.

Complete details can be found be on the BOC website at brattleborooutingclub.org.

Senior bowling roundup

• Team 3 (47-18) held on to first place after Week 13 of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl, while Team 9 (41-24) went 5-0 to move up into second place.

Team 4 moved up a spot, and is now tied with Team 10 (both 39-26) for third place. Team 7 (37-28) is fourth, followed by Team 2 (36-29), Team 5 (31-34), Team 8 (30-35), Team 12 (26-39), Team 11 (24-41), Team 6 (21-44), and Team 1 (20-45).

Beth Armington had the women’s high handicap game (248), while Carole Frizzell had the women’s high handicap series (670). Ken Flagg had the men’s high handicap game (254) and series (684). Team 12 had the high team handicap game (896), while Team 3 had the high handicap series (2,525).

In scratch scoring, it was another week dominated by Josie and Robert Rigby.

Robert Rigby led the men with a 642 series that included a 247 game. Gary Montgomery rolled a 215 game as part of a 6o8 series.

Josie Rigby led the women with games of 200 and 196 that were part of a 566 series. Frizzell didn’t crack the 500 club, but did roll games of 188 and 180.

Warren Corriveau Sr. rolled a 222 game as part of a 577 series. Duane Schillemat (513) and Jerry Dunham (501) were the other men with 500-plus series.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #504 (Wednesday, April 3, 2019). This story appeared on page D4.

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