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Colonel boys fall in semis in OT thriller, while girls lose playoff opener

The Brattleboro Colonels boys’ basketball team got knocked out of the Division I playoffs last Tuesday, but not without a fight.

It took two overtimes for Mount Mansfield to subdue the Colonels, 64-54, in an absolute thriller at the University of Vermont’s Patrick Gymnasium that produced eight lead changes and nine ties.

The drama began with someone who wasn’t supposed be in the line-up. Mount Mansfield guard T.J. Wesson badly sprained his ankle in practice the day before, and despite being in considerable pain, he hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to force the first overtime.

“I didn’t feel like it was going to go in, just because it’s unbe­lievable that it did,” Wesson told the Burlington Free Press. “I couldn’t even walk on (my ankle), it was swollen like a tennis ball. It hurt when I was playing, but my mind was focused. This was the biggest game of my life. I had to play.”

Brattleboro’s Soren Pelz-Walsh countered Wesson’s heroics when he banked in a lay-up at the buzzer to force the second overtime. The senior scored 9 points in the second overtime as he picked up the slack inside after teammate Travis Beeman-Nesbitt fouled out.

Unfortunately for the Colonels, Eric Suder was also hot in the two overtimes, keying a 12-4 run that put the Cougars into the state finals. Suder finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks, while Tom Lacy added 17 points, Wesson tallied 11 and Cody Sharrow scored 10.

The Colonels had another balanced scoring night as Jay Vinci led the way with 18-points and 11 rebounds, while Pelz-Walsh (11 rebounds, 8 assists), Tommy Heydinger (7 rebounds) and Beeman-Nesbitt (4 steals) all added 10 points each.

Brattleboro finished the season with a 15-8 record. They may have fallen short in their bid to make it to their first title game in seven years, but the Colonels showed everyone this year that they belonged in the Division I elite.

Girls’ basketball

• It was one and done for the No. 14 Brattleboro Colonels in their first round Division I playoff game as they fell to third-seeded Colchester Lakers, 42-29, last Wednesday.

The Colonels gave Colchester a good game in the first half as they jumped out to an 11-6 lead after one quarter and clinged to a 14-13 lead at the half. The Lakers rallied in the third quarter with a 13-2 burst and took control of the game for keeps.

Taylor Bird and McKenzie Bover each had 8 points for Brattleboro, and Abby Lesure added 7. Brattleboro ended a difficult season with a 6-15 record.

• Three of the local teams faced long road trips in the first round of their respective playoffs last Tuesday.

In Division III, Twin Valley had the longest bus ride, as they journeyed to No. 8 Winooski and lost, 52-38. The ninth-seeded Wildcats had the game tied up at 11 after the first quarter, and hung on to a 20-18 lead at the half. But better defense by Winooski led to a scoreless third quarter for the Wildcats, and they never recovered.

Savannah Nesbitt led the Wildcats with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 steals. Abbi Molner, Hannah Swanson, and Lexi Reinerston each added 6 points as Twin Valley finished the season with an 11-10 record.

• No. 14 Bellows Falls traveled to Fair Haven to face the third-seeded Slaters, and got blasted, 53-24, in a Division II game. The Slaters dominated wire-to-wire, leading 33-11 at halftime, as good defense prevented the Terriers from getting into any kind of rhythm on offense.

Emily Dufault had 7 points to lead BF. Darian James scored 5 and Chelsea Wilder had 4 as the Terriers ended their season with a 6-15 record.

• The sixth-seeded Rivendell Raptors used phenomenal three-point shooting to beat the No. 11 Leland & Gray Rebels, 61-33, in a Division III contest. The Raptors shot 66 percent from three-point range, racking up 21 points from long distance.

Leland & Gray’s inside game never got going as Rebels center Ashley Goddard ran into foul trou­ble early on. Alex Morrow was the Rebels’ high scorer with 10 points and seven rebounds. Seniors Callie Ginter and Samantha Russ each scored 7 points as the Rebels ended the season at 9-12.

Pelz-Walsh selected to Shrine team

• Soren Pelz-Walsh’s basketball season may have ended last Tuesday, but he still has one more football game to play. The Brattleboro senior was selected to play for the Vermont squad in the 2012 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl.

Pelz-Walsh, who lives in Dummerston, was a standout wide receiver for the Colonels in 2011. He was a first-team selection on the Vermont Division I All-Star team as he helped lead the Colonels to a 5-4 record.

This year’s game is set for Aug. 4 at Dartmouth’s Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H. It will feature two of the most successful high school football coaches in northern New England.

Mike Beliveau from Souhegan High School will serve as head coach for New Hampshire. His Souhegan teams have been in the championship game 14 straight seasons, winning four times. Mike Norman, who guided Rutland High School to seven state titles, will lead the Vermont team.

New Hampshire leads the series 43-13-2, and has an 11-game winning streak over Vermont.

Putney skiers do well at Bill Koch Festival

• Nearly 20 youngsters from the Putney Bill Koch Youth Ski League were among the 575 elementary-aged nordic skiers who travelled to the heart of the White Mountains to participate in the 2012 TD Bank Bill Koch Festival at Great Glen Trails in Gorham, N.H. earlier this month.

The Bill Koch League (BKL) is named after the legendary ski racer from Putney who won a silver medal in the 30km cross-country race at the 1976 Winter Olympics. For racers from the southern Vermont BKL district, the event wraps up a season of weekly practices and weekend races against other regional teams (Prospect, West River, and Stratton Mountain School). All skied their very best in these New England Championship races in both relay and individual events. Skiers from the southern Vermont teams took many of the top places, including multiple top-10 finishes from the Putney crew.

The following young skiers represented the Putney BKL in grouped by school grade: Lollipoppers (kindergarten or younger): Katherine Normandeau, Dummerston; Sadie Bell, Putney; Willem Thurber, Guilford; Clara Seymour, Brattleboro; 1st-2nd graders: Sylvie Normandeau, Dummerston; Liza Bell, Putney; Madelyn Seymour, Brattleboro; Willa Dana, Putney; Darius Parker, Putney; Beau Guenther, Putney; 3rd-4th graders: Maddie Aho, Saxtons River; Mathias Boudreau Golfman, Marlow, N.H.; Lucas Dolce, Marlow; Henry Thurber, Guilford; 5th-6th graders: Dariel Echanis, Saxtons River; Danya Boudreau Golfman, Marlow; 7th-8th graders: Russell Boswell (Stratton Mountain School), Putney; Rory Cuerdon, Putney; and Isabella Thurber, Guilford.

The Putney Bill Koch League is based out of The Grammar School in Putney. Coaches Hans Estrin of Putney and Eric Aho of Saxtons River are looking forward to next winter and are eager to recruit more young skiers to the Putney BKL, which is open to all children from kindergarten through eighth grades. For more information about joining the Putney BKL, contact Aho at eaho@mac.com.

Sign-ups begin for spring Rec programs

• The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department have sign-ups for four spring sports programs on Tuesday, March 20 at the Gibson-Aiken Center, 207 Main St.

Sign-ups for youth lacrosse for boys and girls in grades 3-8 takes place from 1:30-6 p.m. T-ball sign-ups for boys and girls who will be age 6 by May 1, but have not turned 8 by that date, will be held from 3:30-6 p.m. Sign-ups for girls instructional softball for players in grades 1-3, and girls youth softball for grades 4-6, takes place from 1:30-6 p.m.

You can find out more about these programs by calling 802-254-5808, or by visiting the department’s website at www.brattleboro.org.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #143 (Wednesday, March 14, 2012).

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