Burr & Burton gave notice that they are going to be the team to beat in Division II this season with a 64-43 win over Brattleboro on Dec. 10 at the BUHS gym.
The Bulldogs, state semifinalists last season, were in control of the game nearly the whole way. A 12-2 run in the first period set the tone, and six three-point baskets led to a 40-24 lead at the half.
Senior guard Weston Muench sank four three-pointers on the way to leading all scorers with 30 points. David Shehadi added 16 for the Bulldogs. Isaac Roach and Chris McAuliffe led the Colonels with eight points each.
Two nights later, the Bulldogs were in Townshend to take on Leland & Gray in the Rebels’ home opener in a game that seemed to have “blowout” written all over it.
“Brattleboro beat us up pretty badly a few weeks ago when we played them [in a scrimmage],” said senior co-captain Michael Bergeron. “And to hear that [the Bulldogs] beat them up pretty badly, we were just thinking that they would beat us up even worse. Even our coach [Andy Nystrom] was blunt about it, saying, ‘You guys are going to need to play a really good game if you want to even compete.’”
But compete the Rebels did, and Burr & Burton needed overtime to take a 47-46 win. Despite some great offense by seniors Andy Brown and Drew Barnum, the Bulldogs took control with threes from seniors Tanner Carleton, Shehadi and Muench. The Rebels defense slipped momentarily, and the results were costly as the Bulldogs finished the first half leading, 27-22.
The Rebels emerged from the locker room to start the third quarter with authority. They took advantage of the Bulldogs’ missed shots as Bergeron led a rally with six straight points to turn the halftime deficit into a 36-32 lead heading into the fourth.
Burr & Burton clawed their way back into the game and tied it 42-all with a minute left. Senior co-captain Billy Nupp hit a go-ahead jumper with 10 seconds to play, but Stalcup sent the game into overtime with a putback at the buzzer.
Shehadi scored what turned out to the winning points when he converted a three-point play with a minute left in OT. Sophomore Corey Nystrom scored off a Zach Wilkins miss in the waning seconds, but it was not enough.
On the loss, Bergeron said that “it’s kind of bittersweet because coming into the game we all expected to get savaged, which didn’t happen at all. But to realize that we could’ve actually won, that we had the lead with only a few seconds left, is a little disappointing.”
Nystrom agreed. “I can’t really take anything negative away from it,” he said. “If anything, it would be our last two minutes of regular time. We really need to work on closing things out.”
Leland & Gray didn’t have long to dwell on the missed chance at an upset. They hosted Poultney on Dec. 14, and took care of business with a 75-50 victory.
The Rebels turned in another strong effort on defense, and took advantage of numerous Poultney turnovers. Leland & Gray led 32-19 at the half, and 52-28 after three quarters.
• Bellows Falls bounced back from an opening night loss to Poultney on Dec. 8 to hammer Black River, 68-34, in Ludlow on Dec. 14.
Kendrick Mills and Mike LaBeau led the Terriers with 14 and 12 points, respectively, as 11 different players scored. A 29-6 surge in the first quarter put the game away early for BF.
• Twin Valley lost its opener on the road to Rivendell, 66-48, on Dec. 14. Dal Nesbitt scored 23 points for the Wildcats, while Sam Molner added 12.
Sophomores Meghan Powell and Taylor Bird combined for 24 points as Brattleboro beat Wahconah, 52-41, on opening night at the BUHS gym on Dec. 14.
This year’s Colonel team is dominated by younger players, but they showed their mettle from the opening tip. Powell and Ari Harrison controlled the boards, as Powell pulled down nine rebounds to go with her 11 points, while Harrison had 11 rebounds and six steals.
Wahconah’s three-point shooting kept them in the game, but it was the Colonels’ hard-nosed defense and timely shooting that led to the win.
• The Leland and Gray Rebels varsity girls lost their first game of the season to the West Rutland Golden Horde, 58-33, on Dec. 10 in Townshend.
Both teams came out playing aggressive basketball, but West Rutland took control of the game with a 14-3 burst in the second period for a 31-17 lead.
The Horde were helped by accurate shooting from three-point land, and good transition offense. Mikala Dambrakas had the hottest hand for West Rutland, with a 25 point game to lead all scorers.
Senior co-captain Ashley Goddard saved the Rebels from getting totally blown out with a 17 point effort.
On Dec. 13, the Rebels played host to Mill River, and pulled out a 26-24 win. Freshman Jordan Gouger hit a pair of free throws in the final two minutes, and Goddard and Haley Buffum kept the Minutewomen off the glass to seal the victory.
Gouger led the Rebels with seven points, while Goddard and Alex Morrow added six each.
• Twin Valley opened its season with a 41-32 loss to Mount St. Joseph in Wilmington on Dec. 11. Colton Butler led the Wildcats with 11 points, while Abbi Molner added nine points, 10 rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Forwards Christina Moore, Lexi Reinerston, and Hannah Swanson combined for 18 rebounds among them, but the dominating performance on the glass was undone by a 3-for-14 night at the free throw line.
On Dec. 14, the Wildcats lost to Rivendell, 52-23. Twin Valley had another bad night (6-for-16) at the free throw and committed 18 turnovers. Molner led the Wildcats with eight points and eight rebounds.
The Bellows Falls/Hartford wrestling team placed sixth in the ConVal Early Bird Tournament on Dec. 8. This 12-school tourney was hosted by Bellows Falls, as ConVal’s gymnasium in Peterborough, N.H., is undergoing renovations.
Junior captain Nolan Viens continued last year’s dominance by winning the 145-pound class. His younger brother, sophomore Austin Viens, made it to the finals of the 120-pound class before he was defeated, and juniors Patrick Libuda and Chris Earle placed fourth in the 138- and 220-pound classes, respectively.
Ski tow celebrates 75 years
Living Memorial Park ski hill had its genesis in 1937, when Robert Billings, Elliot Barber, Floyd Messenger, and John Dunham decided to build a 1,100-foot rope tow on the Charles Clark Farm on Guilford Street. These men also founded the Brattleboro Ski Patrol.
According to a history of the site, written by Brattleboro Ski Patrol director Nick Collins, the rope tow opened to the public on the first Saturday in January, 1938. A day pass cost 35 cents; after 1 p.m., the half-day ticket cost 25 cents. In 1939, owners added lights, and the tow operated three nights each week.
The ski hill was one of the first with a lift in the United States, and hundreds of weekend skiers from all over New England descended on Guilford Street.
When the town bought Clark Farm in the mid-1950s, changing its name to Living Memorial Park, the town installed a Dopplemeyer T-bar lift and began running the hill. In 1995, a lack of reliable natural snow and other factors prompted the town to shut down the hill, but volunteers reopened it in 1997, and run it to this day by soliciting private donations.
Living Memorial Park Snow Sports, Inc., has done a fine job over the past 15 years. They’ve upgraded the T-bar, added snowmaking, and generally worked hard to keep the hill what it has been since the 1930s: an inexpensive place for winter fun.
Today, an all-day lift ticket costs $5, the best skiing value in New England. Living Memorial Park Snow Sports say, weather permitting, they hope to have the hill open for its 75th anniversary. They need ticket sellers, people to load skiers and riders, and to man the safety watch in place at the base station or the upper hut. For more information, call 802-254-9541 or visit www.vtsnowsports.org.