It’s been a difficult season for the Brattleboro Colonels’ boys’ basketball team. But the Colonels showed what they could be capable of doing in the Division I playoffs with a 51-39 win over the Mount Anthony Patriots last Friday at the BUHS gym.
This was a defensive game all the way as Colonels coach Joe Rivers threw MAU every combination he could think of.
“We ran a junk defense against these guys, and that kept them off balance,” he said.
And on Senior Night, it was fitting that the defensive star of the game for the Colonels was senior forward Tyler Higley, whose job it was to shut down MAU high-scoring forward Aaryngston Biebens. Instead of getting his customary 30, Biebens was held to just 11 points, and his teammates couldn’t pick up the slack.
On offense, senior point guard Jackson Batchelder scored 18 points to lead the Colonels, and Isaac Roach added 11, but Conner Elliot-Knaggs provided a big spark in the second half with his aggressive play, scoring all 12 of his points in that span.
Despite playing with a mask to protect a broken nose suffered earlier in the season, Elliot-Knaggs drove to the basket with abandon. “[Elliot-]Knaggs is a guy you sometimes can’t deny,” said Rivers. “He can run some aggressive plays.”
Elliott-Knaggs’ energy turned a slim 19-15 lead at the half into a comfortable 35-23 advantage heading into the fourth. A 15-for-19 night at the free throw line, including an 11-for-12 stretch in the fourth, capped off a solid effort by the Colonels.
The MAU victory helped wash away the bitter taste of a bad loss to Mount St. Joseph in Rutland on Feb. 19. Brattleboro used a 22-2 run in the second half to take a 12-point lead over MSJ in the fourth quarter with 5:21 left. But that lead vanished as MSJ rallied to beat the Colonels, 60-57. Batchelder led the Colonels with 14 points, while Roach and Higley each added 10 points, and Chris McAuliffe finished with eight points.
Brattleboro finished the regular season with a 6-14 record. They earned the No. 14 seed and a bus ride to Burlington to face third-seeded Rice in an opening round game on Feb. 27.
• It took a second-half rally to give the Colonels an opportunity to beat Mount Anthony, 42-40, in Bennington on Feb. 18. Kayla Savage and Ari Harrison each scored six points in the third quarter; Aidan Early added four more; and the Colonels’ defense clamped down to hold MAU to five points.
Harrison finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Savage added with 11 points.
Unfortunately, the Colonels couldn’t build on that effort against Rutland last Thursday. Harrison injured her ankle early in the game, and while the Colonels played the Raiders to a 17-all standoff at the half, they were outscored 16-8 the rest of the way in a 33-25 loss.
The Colonels regrouped last Saturday, putting together a 44-39 win at Windsor. Savage and Abbie Lesure combined for 17 points in the second half, and Taylor Bird scored 12 points overall to lead the 8-10 Colonels.
• Leland & Gray enjoyed a good shooting night, going 26 for 46 from the field, and kept the turnovers to a minimum in a 54-25 home win over Poultney on Feb. 18.
Chelby Nystrom led the Rebels with 15 points. Ashley Goddard added 10 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Alex Morow had 10 points, six rebounds, six assists and six blocks, and Haley Buffum chipped in with seven points, six rebounds and four assists.
They followed that up with a dramatic 42-40 home win in overtime over Bellows Falls last Thursday. Buffum drilled a three-pointer to sent the game into overtime, and Goddard dominated in extra time. The Terriers had a 14-point lead on the Rebels early in the second half, until hot outside shooting by Buffum whittled down the lead.
Goddard and Buffum each finished 13 points for the 8-10 Rebels. Chelsea Wilder and Emily Dufault scored 15 and 13, respectively, for the 4-13 Terriers.
• Nearly two months later than first scheduled, Twin Valley and Leland & Gray played the championship game of the Green Mountain Holiday Tournament on Feb. 18 in Chester.
Twin Valley rose to the occasion with a 65-57 upset over Leland & Gray. Colin Lozito had a game-high 20 points with 11 assists to lead the Wildcats. Dal Nesbitt followed with 18 points, while Cade Nesbitt added 12 and Sam Molner chipped in with 10. The Wildcats were aided by a 15-for-20 stretch at the free throw line in the final quarter.
Riley Kenney and Drew Barnum each had 14 points for the Rebels, including a trio of three-pointers by Kenney in the fourth quarter.
Losing that rivalry game seemed to take something out of the Rebels, for the following night Leland & Gray lost at Woodstock, 61-46. The Rebels trailed by 20 at halftime and fought to whittle the Wasps’ advantage down to eight going into the final quarter. Sherman led the Rebels with 16 points.
Fortunately for the Rebels, they got it together for the regular season finale at Springfield last Friday, when they ripped the Cosmos 56-34. Barnum led Leland & Gray with 16 points, while Kenney and Mike Bergeron added 10 points each.
An 19-4 run in the final quarter sealed the victory for the 15-5 Rebels, who earned the No. 3 seed in Division III, and will host Peoples Academy on Feb. 27 in the opening round of the playoffs.
Twin Valley finished with a 8-12 record and the No. 13 seed in Division IV. They’ll be on the road Feb. 27 to face No. 4 Danville.
• Bellows Falls has had trouble winning the close ones this season, and their 43-41 home loss to Proctor on Feb. 19 continued that pattern. Missed free throws by the Terriers in the final quarter and a couple of defensive breakdowns in the final minutes factored into the loss.
But the Terriers won their last two regular season games to build playoff momentum.
In the rivalry game against Fall Mountain at Holland Gymnasium last Thursday, the Terriers eked out a 39-38 win. Trevor Wilson hit a three-pointer with 50 seconds remaining, and Brian MacAnuff blocked a shot with eight seconds remaining to win it. Better defense keyed the victory: Fall Mountain was held to 14 points in the second half.
The Terriers won against Green Mountain last Saturday, 56-48. Kendrick Mills scored 16 points to lead BF, who finished the regular season with a 7-13 record. They picked up the No. 13 seed in Division II, and were scheduled to travel to East Montpelier on Feb. 26 to face fourth-seeded U-32.
• With a pair of wins last week, the Colonel boys seem to have a lock on the No. 2 playoff seed, and home ice, until the Division II finals at UVM.
The Colonels cruised to an 11-0 victory in Lyndon on Feb. 20. Andy Harris and Jimmy Podlaski each scored four goals, Romello Lindsey scored twice and Braxton Lynn also got a goal. Philip Perkins finished with a team-high three assists. Goalie Greg DiSilva needed to make only six saves for the victory over the winless Vikings.
Last Saturday at Hartford, Brattleboro posted a 5-0 win. DiSilva picked up his ninth shutout of the season in goal and Podlaski scored a pair of goals to lead the 16-3 Colonels. Nik Rancourt, Harris and Adam Griffin also scored.
The Colonels host Northfield on Wednesday in the regular season finale.
Sunrise Rotary Nothin’ But Net Tourney set for March 16
• The Brattleboro Sunrise Rotary Club’s 17th annual Nothin’ But Net Tournament is held this year on Saturday, March 16, at Brattleboro Union High School. Nothin’ But Net is a three-on-three basketball tournament for the entire community. The net proceeds from the tournament benefit the Brattleboro Sunrise Rotary Scholarship Fund.
Teams compete in a double elimination format in divisions for adult men and women, middle school and high school boys and girls. New this year is an adult 40-plus division. Entry fees are $50 per adult team and $40 per student team. There will also be a three-point contest for men and women and a free throw contest. Both are open to the public as well. Registration deadline is Friday, March 15.
For more information or to register, call Toni Sewing at 802-254-0047 or visit www.brattleborosunriserotary.org.