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Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

Brattleboro’s Justin Wegiel, left, prepares to shoot as he is guarded by Middlebury’s Emersyn Brookman during the second half of their Unified basketball game at the BUHS gym on April 6.

Sports

Unified basketball returns to BUHS after two years

Randolph T. Holhut, deputy editor of this newspaper, has written this column for more than a decade and has covered sports in Windham County since the 1980s. Readers can send him sports information at news@commonsnews.org.

Unified basketball is back at Brattleboro Union High School after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is a wonderful sight to see.

I was at the BUHS gym on April 6 for the Colonels’ second game of the season, against the Middlebury Tigers. The place was filled with spectators, and was easily the biggest crowd I’ve seen in there since before the pandemic.

What they got was an enjoyable game, even though the Colonels lost, 36-25. That’s because the “Unified” part of the sport’s name is more important than the basketball. Seeing a school’s students coming together for the love of the game is what Unified sports is about.

Not that the sport part is unimportant. Brattleboro has some pretty good athletes on its team, members that have won gold medals in Special Olympics soccer and snowboarding during the 2021-22 school year.

“For some of these kids, it was the first time they’ve ever lost,” said BUHS co-coach Tyler Boone. “They’re used to winning, so it’s not a bad thing to lose to a really good team like Middlebury. We did our best, and played a good game. We just didn’t get what we wanted.”

It took awhile for both teams to find their groove. It was 4-4 at the end of the first quarter, and 6-6 with five minutes left in the second quarter as Robert Chafee, Joannie Tuttle, and Silvia Galdamez all had a basket for the Colonels.

Middlebury started heating up, and Brattleboro did its best to keep up as Chafee hit a three-pointer and Tuttle got an inside hoop. However, the Tigers had a 14-11 lead at the half, and the Colonels never got any closer in the second half.

Jayden Mahoney was the game’s high scorer, leading the Tigers with 12 points and keying an 8-0 run in the third quarter that put the game out of reach for the Colonels. Ashley Cleveland and Tuttle each scored four points for Brattleboro in the second half, and Kyle Simuro added an inside bucket.

Tuttle was Brattleboro’s high scorer with eight points, followed by Chafee (five points), Justin Wegiel and Cleveland (four points each), and Simuro and Galdamez (two points each).

“Everyone had fun out there,” said BUHS co-coach Erika Bassett. “It was a great experience for us.”

The loss gave the Colonels, which defeated Hartford in its season opener on April 1, a 1-1 record.

Boys’ tennis

• Brattleboro got wins from both its doubles teams and their No. 4 and 5 singles players to eke out a 4-3 win over the Burr & Burton Bulldogs in the season opener at the BUHS courts on April 8.

With the match tied 3-3, it was the No. 1 doubles team of Elias Gradinger and Jackson Heller that defeated Burr & Burton’s Max Michael and Kyle Southworth 7-5, 6-3 to clinch a victory for the Colonels.

At No. 2 doubles, Brattleboro’s Thomas Hyde and Eben Wagner earned a 6-2, 6-2 win over Carter Lincourt and Ian Jewett.

In singles play, No. 4 Max Naylor needed a tiebreaker to defeat Burr & Burton’s Lucas Arrington and No. 5 Will Taggard defeated Aiden Mirchadani.

No. 1 Nathan Kim, No. 2 Ben Luna, and No. 3 Ty Smith lost their singles matches to Burr & Burton’s Nick O’Donnell, Cristo Buckley, and Blake Allen, respectively.

O’Donnell earned the victory over Kim in a super tiebreaker, with O’Donnell winning that round, 12-10, after he had a 6-2 victory in the first set and Kim responded with a 6-3 win in the second set. Buckley beat Luna in straight sets 6-4, 6-2, while Allen defeated Smith 7-5, 6-0.

The Colonels have a deep team this year with 14 players, seven of them seniors. Naylor, Heller, and Taggard are the tri-captains. Brattleboro finished 8-5 last season, and coach Ben Brewer believes this year’s team can definitely improve upon that record.

Ultimate disc

• Heavy rain the night before that left its field a quagmire forced Leland & Gray to move its opening match on April 8 with Burr & Burton to Manchester, where the Bulldogs came away with a 15-8 victory.

The Rebels kept it close and whittled a 7-3 Bulldog lead down to 9-7 at halftime before Burr & Burton finished strong in the second half.

Warren Roberts finished with four goals and two assists to lead the Rebels, who are off until April 20, when they will face Mill River.

An unmasked season

• The spring high school sports season in Vermont began last week with one thing missing. Masks are no longer required for student-athletes during competition in sports sanctioned by the Vermont Principals’ Association.

Vermont dropped its previous guidance on wearing masks in schools on March 14, and the Agency of Education extended that guidance to outdoor sports this spring.

While the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 spring sports season, the 2021 spring season saw facial coverings required to be worn by all players, coaches, officials, staff, and spectators.

Also missing this spring are limits to the number of spectators at games. Last spring, capacity was limited to 150 people per event, with social distancing in force.

Some feel it is still premature to be lifting mask requirements. However, with 65 percent of Vermont’s public school students ages 5 and up having received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, the state feels confident that masks are not needed in most settings, particularly outdoors.

For adults, particularly for folks like me over 60, being up to date on your shots also cuts down on the COVID-19 anxiety.

I got my second booster shot a couple of weeks ago and, especially if you fall into one of the categories where a second booster is recommended, I would suggest getting yours as soon as possible. The vaccine is still free, and available at walk-in clinics, pharmacies, and your health care provider. Go to healthvermont.gov/covid-19/vaccine/getting-covid-19-vaccine for the details.

Take a hike along the West River

• The Manchester Section of the Green Mountain Club will be leading hikes along two sections of the West River in Jamaica on two Sunday afternoons, on April 24 to Hamilton Falls and on May 1 to Angel Falls.

Meet at Jamaica State Park on April 24 at 1 p.m. for the hike to Hamilton Falls. It will be a round trip from the state park to the falls and back, with a total mileage of 5.4 miles — 3.8 miles on the level West River Trail, a 0.8 mile uphill to the falls, and 0.8 miles back downhill to the West River Trail.

For the May 1 hike to Angel Falls, meet at noon at Ball Mountain Dam Road trailhead parking area. The distance is 2.8 miles round trip with minor elevation changes.

Both trips will be hiked at a relaxed pace. Bring an extra layer of clothes, fluids, snacks, and a rain coat just in case. Prood of vaccination is required. RSVP to Joe Ninesling at runraft@aol.com or 802-258-1401.

Senior bowling roundup

• Week 14 of the winter/spring 2022 season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl on April 7 saw first place Trash-O-Matic (50-20) have a 5-0 week to take an 11-game lead over Bowling Stones (39-21) with three weeks left in the season.

The 844s and Stayin’ Alive (both 38-32) are tied for third, followed by Slow Movers (36-34), A Rose/Tulips (29-41), The Anythings (28-42), and Good Times (21-49).

Pat Bentrup had the women’s high handicap game (240), while Debbie Kolpa had the high handicap series (630). Robert Rigby had the men’s high handicap game (254) and series (708). Bowling Stones had the high team handicap game (911), while Trash-O-Matic had the high handicap series (2,502).

In scratch scoring, Rigby again led the men with a 705 series that featured games of 253, 234, and 218. Six men had a 500-plus series — Marty Adams (563), Gary Montgomery (557, with a 208 game), Jerry Dunham (539, with a 201 game), Chuck Adams (532, with games of 198 and 188), Warren Corriveau Sr. (524, with games of 187 and 181), and Duane Schillemat (519, with a 202 game). Fred Bump had a 187 game and Charlie Marchant rolled a 180 game.

Nancy Dalzell had the women’s high scratch series (476, with a 172 game), while Carol Gloski had the high scatch game (192) and Bentrup had a 171 game.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #659 (Wednesday, April 13, 2022). This story appeared on page B6.

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