The first championship banner of the winter sports season goes to the Brattleboro girls’ nordic ski team, which foiled Mount Anthony’s quest for back-to-back championships last week in the state meets at Craftsbury on Feb. 28 and at Mountain Top resort last Thursday.
Brattleboro finished with a two-day score of 156, followed by Mount Mansfield with 170, MAU with 179, Champlain Valley with 236 and St. Johnsbury with 432.
On Feb. 28, Brattleboro girls bested Mount Anthony by just two points to win the classic event. Conditions were challenging, with fresh sleet and snow that morning, but Halie Lange placed third in 23.24.6. and Maddi Shaw finished 10th in 24.31.7, in the 5.5-kilometer individual race to clinch the classic victory for the Colonels. Emma Straus and Linnea Jahn finished 17th and 18th, respectively, in a field of 96 Division I racers.
The classic relay team of Shaw, Jahn, Straus, and Lange finished second to Mount Mansfield, but ahead of third-place Mount Anthony. That finish gave the Colonels 68 team points for the day, with Mount Anthony in second with 70, and Mount Mansfield with 76.
Snow conditions were better for the freestyle half of the championship at Mountain Top, but the steep and hilly terrain was a test for all skiers.
Lange finished second in the 5K freestyle, and anchored the freestyle relay team that finished second, and gave the Colonels just enough points to edge Mount Mansfield for the title.
Straus came in 12th in the 5K freestyle, and Shaw placed 15th. The other Colonel finishers included Jahn (23rd), Helen Manning (28th), Leah Silverman (29th), Kara Piergentilli (65th) and Kate Grasso (72nd).
The Colonel boys finished fourth out of 13 teams in the boys’ classic competition. Brattleboro did not place anyone in the top 20 as Jacob Ellis (29th), Graham Glennon (30th), Austin Lester (38th), and Anthony Burdo (47th) were the top Colonel finishers.
Brattleboro didn’t gain any ground at Mountain Top in the freestyle races. The team would finish fourth overall with 407 points, behind Champlain Valley (75), Mount Anthony (132), and Mount Mansfield (151).
Jacob Ellis was the top Colonel in the 5K freestyle in 18th. He was followed by Graham Glennon (26th), Austin Lester (35th), Anthony Burdo (43rd), Sam Green (55th), Noah Borochoff-Porte (58th), Oliver Pomazi (67th), and Jeff Kahler (75th).
• Brattleboro made the most of getting a first-round playoff game at home by blasting the No. 11 Rice Green Knights, 7-1, at Withington Rink last Wednesday. Maddie Rollins had another three-goal game, Emily Wilson scored twice, and Logan Robinson and Kali Roberts also found the back of the net in a game the Colonels dominated from start to finish.
Goalie Brianna Snow played flawlessly in the first two periods between the pipes. Lou Lou Terwilliger replaced Snow in the third period. Aside from a Rice goal in the first minute, Terwilliger played well in her playoff debut.
With the rout, the No. 6 Colonels (12-7-2) advanced to the second round for a trip to Stowe to face the No. 2 Raiders last Friday night. They came away with a 2-1 victory.
Stowe’s Kathryn Raymonde scored in the first period, but the Colonels responded with a Rollins goal from Wilson early in the second period. Michelle Reffi then scored an unassisted goal for the game winner with 4:56 left in regulation. Stowe outshot Brattleboro, 23-14, but Snow made 22 saves and kept her cool under tremendous pressure by the Raiders.
The Colonels faces No. 2 U-32 in a semifinal in Barre on Tuesday. The winner will play for the state championship at UVM’s Gutterson Rink on March 14.
• “Kylie-blu stole the ball!”
Johnny Most wasn’t high above courtside to scream those words, but Twin Valley’s Kylie-blu Crawford had a theft as big as Celtic great John Havlicek’s in the 1965 Eastern Conference finals when she stole the ball in the back court from Leland & Gray guard Alexandra Morrow and drove in for the go-ahead basket in the waning seconds of a 34-29 victory by the Wildcats last Wednesday night.
She wasn’t the only Crawford who had a big night in the Division III girls’ basketball playdown in Townshend. Twin sister Bryer-lyn scored 13 points, including a flawless 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, to lead the No. 10 Wildcats over the No. 7 Rebels.
This game was a defensive battle all the way, as both teams sought to establish dominance inside. Both are strong rebounding teams, but the final team tally was 24-24.
With the battle of the boards even, Twin Valley sought to slow the game down and be deliberate in its shot selection. Defensively, the Wildcats switched to a full-court press when they fell behind, 29-26, with about two minutes to play.
“When they got the lead point lead on us, things looked dicey,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “We had to go to the press at the end, and Kylie had the presence of mind to make the big play at the end.”
Aly Marcucci had 14 points to lead the Rebels, but only four of them came in the second half. That’s because Hayford made the decision to use man-to-man defense on Marcucci.
“They played good D against us, but the press didn’t really bother us until the very end,” said Rebels coach Gregg Morrow.
The Rebels finished the season with a 13-8 record, but Morrow was already looking ahead.
“The unity and the bonding of this team has been tremendous, and nine of them are returning for next season,” Morrow said.
• Twin Valley’s reward for knocking off Leland & Gray was a trip to Orleans to take on No. 2 Lake Region (20-1), a team that knocked them out of the playoffs three of the last four years.
While the Wildcats entered this Division III quarterfinal with wins in eight of their last nine games, all that momentum wasn’t enough against a team considered one of the best in the state, regardless of division. Lake Region came away with a 39-23 win on Saturday.
Twin Valley did a good job on defense to keep Lake Region under 40 points, but the Rangers did an even better job shutting down the Wildcats. Sam Bernard was the Wildcats’ top scorer with 10 points.
The Wildcats finished with a 13-9 record, but the good news is that only four players are graduating — the Crawford sisters, Bernard, and Brittanu Poulen — and that Lake Region is moving up to Division II next season, so that Twin Valley won’t end up taking yet another ride to Orleans.
• The No. 16 Brattleboro Colonels had an early exit from the Division I playoffs, but not before giving the top seed a very big scare.
No. 1 South Burlington trailed Brattleboro, 19-10, after one quarter. Despite the Rebels having a pronounced height advantage, the Colonels kept the game close throughout, thanks to great three-point shooting by Kelsey Patterson and Mariah Lesure.
The 18-3 Rebels had a 23-21 lead at the half, and could not put away Brattleboro until a 9-for-12 run at the free throw line in the final two minutes clinched a 49-37 win.
South Burlington was led by Rachel Crews, who collected 21 points and 7 rebounds, and Natalie Wimett, who had 16 points and 8 rebounds.
Patterson finished with 13 points, and Erin LeBlanc added with 8 points and 6 rebounds, while Taylor Kerylow and Lesure each had 6 for the 5-16 Colonels.
• It was one-and-done for the Brattleboro Colonels in the Lake Division playoffs, as they lost 2-0 to the Burr & Burton Bulldogs in Manchester last Wednesday.
Brattleboro put 40 shots on Bulldogs goalie Connor Stuart, who stopped them all. Eddie Lewicki and Luke Drabyn were the goal scorers.
The Colonels finished with a 4-15-2 record. The good news for the Colonels is that they will lose only one senior — defenseman Sam Graves — from this squad. It was a long season with a lot of close losses, but the younger players can’t help but benefit from the experience, and turn that experience into some wins next season.
• Brattleboro splitlost [unless I’m reading the first two paragraphs incorrectly...] its last two regular season games. Last Tuesday, they lost on the road to Burr & Burton, 71-57. Brattleboro trailed 29-27 at the half, but Burr & Burton used defense and rebounding to pull away in the second half. Tommy Heydinger led the 14-5 Colonels with 19 points, Nate Forrett added 11, and and Travis Elliott-Knaggs chipped in 10.
The Colonels got blasted by Mount Anthony, 66-50, in the regular season finale at the BUHS gym. Senior center Clayton Palmer scored 17 to lead the Patriots. Elliott-Knaggs and Soren Pelz-Walsh scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, to lead Brattleboro.
Brattleboro finished with a 14-6 record and ended up with the No. 6 seed in the Division I tournament. They will host No. 11 Colchester (7-13) in a first round game at the BUHS gym on March 9.
• Bellows Falls ended their season last Tuesday with a 76-46 loss to Springfield on Senior Night. Brendan Hackett, Peter Falzo, and Luke Brophy played their last game at Holland Gymnasium as the 3-17 Terriers struggled to keep up with the 8-11 Cosmos for most of the game. Drew Guild led BFBellow Falls with 10 points, while Brophy added 8, and Falzo, Joe Aslin, and Trevor Wilson each contributed 6.
• Leland & Gray ended the regular season with a 57-20 win over Twin Valley last Friday in Townshend. Noah Chapin scored 14 points, and Matt Bizon added 10, to lead the Rebels. Troy Birch had 8 points and 13 rebounds for the Wildcats. The Rebels finished with a 16-4 record, while Twin Valley dropped to 9-11.
The Rebels picked up the No. 2 seed and got a bye into the Division III quarterfinals, when they will host the winner of the Green Mountain-Lake Region playdown on Friday at 7 p.m. in Townshend. Twin Valley is the No. 11 seed in the Division IV tournament. They faced No. 6 Rivendell on March 8.
• The state Snowboarding Championships concluded last week at Mount Snow, and the Leland & Gray boys finished fourth behind Burr & Burton, Rutland, and South Burlington. Twin Valley came in sixth.
Leland & Gray’s James Crowther came in second in the overall individual standings, which combines the scores from the halfpipe, slopestyle, and giant slalom events.
Green Mountain won its first-ever girls’ snowboard team title, finishing ahead of Burr & Burton, North Country, Rutland, and South Burlington. GM’s Lily Calabrese came in first in the individual standings, with wins in the halfpipe and slalom, and a second place finish in slopestyle.
• West Dover’s Kelly Clark added to her trophy case this season with a victory in the the USSA Snowboarding Grand Prix Superpipe contest at Mammoth Mountain in California. The win gave Clark the overall season series title, as well as the U.S. National Championship. It was also her seventh straight win this season.
• Clark’s hometown friends will get a chance to see the reigning Superpipe champ this week at the 29th annual Burton U.S. Open at Stratton Mountain. Some of the sport’s other big names — such as Peetu Piiroinen, Jamie Anderson, Kazuhiro Kokubo, Louie Vito, Hannah Teter, Mark McMorris, and Danny Davis — plan to be at Stratton for the finals this weekend.
Can’t make it to Stratton? The competition will can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, March 13, at 4:30 p.m. There will also be four days of live webcasts, from March 9-12, on burton.com or metacafe.com. More information is available at opensnowboarding.com.