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Colonel girls fall in quarterfinals to MAU

Ask any basketball coach, and he or she will tell you one of the hardest things is facing a team three times in one season.

That’s what sixth-seeded Brattleboro Colonels faced in the Division I girls’ basketball tournament as they played two familiar foes from the Marble Valley League: the Burr & Burton Bulldogs and the Mount Anthony Patriots.

Though the Colonels defeated 11th-seeded Burr & Burton, 50-47, on Feb. 19 in their first-round playoff game, they came up short against No. 3 Mount Anthony, 50-37, in the quarterfinals last Saturday in Bennington.

Brattleboro swept the season series with the Bulldogs, winning 47-27 at home on Jan. 30 and 53-40 in Manchester on Feb. 11. But at the start of their third meeting against Burr & Burton, the Colonels trailed by as many as 16 points midway through the second quarter before rallying back for a dramatic win.

“Give Burr & Burton credit,” said Colonels coach Paul Freed. “They were making a lot of their shots in the first half. They were confident and weren’t intimidated at all.”

After playing what Freed called a “fragmented” game in the first 14 minutes, Brattleboro cut the lead down to 27-18 at the half, thanks to a 10-4 burst in the final four minutes highlighted by a 3-pointer by freshman guard Devin Millerick.

Millerick, called up to varsity a few weeks ago, played key minutes in this game.

“She is an amazing asset,” said Freed. “She’s a calming influence and has great court vision. Scoring seven points in a playoff game is huge when you’re a freshman. You could see how that three of hers brought us, and the fans, to life.”

The Colonels chipped away at the lead in the second half as senior forward Arianna Harrison scored 17 of her game-high 21 points in the final 18 minutes.

The Colonels didn’t get their first lead in the game until the 5:10 mark of the fourth quarter. Harrison had to pick up the scoring slack after junior guard Maddy Derosia (10 points) fouled out with 2:27 left, while juniors Taylor Bird and Meghan Powell did the defensive dirty work.

“We needed to lean on a lot of different players tonight,” said Freed.

Tessa Roberts scored 13 points, with Maggie Oliver adding 12 for the Bulldogs.

Brattleboro followed a similar script against the Patriots, starting slow and falling behind early. Mount Anthony led 27-18 at halftime, but Brattleboro couldn’t muster another second-half comeback.

Kathryn Fraiser scored 13 points to lead the Patriots. Harrison had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Brattleboro; Savage had eight rebounds and two steals.

Mount Anthony swept the season series with the Colonels, but both victories were close: a 68-61 victory in overtime at the BUHS gym Feb. 4, and a 56-51 decision Feb. 15 in Bennington.

Brattleboro finished the season with a 15-7 record. With only four graduating seniors — Harrison, Savage, Megan Siggins, and Daisy Giroux — the Colonels appear in good shape for another playoff run next season.

Wildcats fall in quarterfinals

• The Twin Valley girls earned the No. 5 seed in Division III and played host to No. 12 Sharon in a first-round game last Thursday.

Hannah Swanson had 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Wildcats to a 68-28 win. Colton Butler had 15 points and 9 rebounds, and Savannah Nesbitt added 10 points and 9 steals as Twin Valley improved to 17-4.

Christina Moore pulled down 13 rebounds as the Wildcats had a 49-19 advantage on the boards. Suzie Moses had 12 points to lead 8-13 Sharon.

The Wildcats had little time to savor the win, since they had to travel to No. 4 Enosburg last Saturday for a quarterfinal game. Enosburg won that game, 47-38.

BF, L&G girls knocked out

• Bellows Falls was seeded No. 15 in the Division III girls’ basketball playoffs and drew the unbeaten Williamstown Blue Devils as their first-round opponent.

Second-seeded Williamstown jumped out to a 19-6 lead in the first quarter and cruised from there in a 81-34 home win over the Terriers last Thursday night.

Sarah Bellavance had 16 points to lead the 20-0 Blue Devils, while Jayme Ducharme (nine rebounds) and Kimmy Gilbert each added 11 points, and Dani Jesmonth posted 14 steals and nine points.

Chelsea Wilder and Emily Dufault each had eight points as Bellows Falls ended its season with a 6-15 record.

• Leland & Gray also didn’t make it out of the first round in Division III. Seeded 14th, the Rebels traveled to Bradford to face No. 3 Oxbow on Feb. 19, losing 52-29.

Mikalya Hodge had 20 points for Oxbow, which had a narrow 21-15 halftime lead before turning it on in the second half. Elizabeth Gallup had 11 points as the Rebels also finished their season at 6-15.

Boys’ hockey

• Brattleboro got the No. 12 seed in the Division II tournament. The Colonels traveled to No. 5 Northfield for a first-round game last Friday, and lost 4-0.

This was a rebuilding year for the Colonels, who finished with a 5-14-2 record. Starting goaltender Greg DiSilva and forward Bryce Fletcher are the team’s lone graduating seniors, so Brattleboro will have a more experienced core of players back for next season.

Boys’ basketball playoffs begin this week

• Seedings came out on Monday for the boys’ state tournaments, and two local teams got some traveling to do.

A late-season slump left Brattleboro with a 10-10 record and the No. 10 seed in Division I. The Colonels will head up Route 7 to face No. 7 Middlebury (11-9) in a first-round game on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m.

Bellows Falls also had a streaky regular season, losing nine of their first 11 games, then going on a four-game winning streak, then losing four of their five most recent games to finish at 7-13.

That got the Terriers the No. 10 seed in Division II and a trip to No. 7 Vergennes (9-11) in a first-round game on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m.

Twin Valley finished the season at 19-1 and got the No. 1 seed in Division IV. That means they will host at least two games at home before the tournament shifts to the Barre Auditorium for the semifinals and championship game.

At press time, the Wildcats played host No. 6 Websterville Baptist (1-19) in a first-round game in Wilmington on Feb. 25. A win would give Twin Valley a home quarterfinal game on Friday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m., against the winner of Twinfield/Mid-Vermont Christian first-round game.

Leland & Gray is not participating in the Division III playoffs. According to Athletics and Activity Director Marty Testo, the team decided not to go based on its 5-15 regular season record.

Pickering, Rayner sisters named to VPA Hall of Fame

• The selection committee of the Vermont Principals’ Association Hall of Fame recently released its picks for the Class of 2014, and three Bellows Falls Union High School legends are on the list.

Russ Pickering made the coaches and activity directors list. Pickering coached at every level at the school in cross-country, track, and basketball over 34 years from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s.

In cross-country and track, the Walpole, N.H., native coached the Terriers to a combined 13 state championships. In basketball, Pickering was an assistant for both the boys and the girls. He wrapped up his BF career as Jayne Barber’s assistant when the Terrier girls won state Division II titles in 2000, 2001, and 2003.

The twin sisters who led those championship teams, Danielle and Jevonne Rayner, are also being inducted this year. During their varsity careers, the one-two punch known as Dani and Jevi led the Terriers to four straight title games between 2000 and 2003. Dani scored 1,777 points for her career; Jevi scored 1,595.

Dani and Jevi both went on to St. Michael’s College, where they graduated summa cum laude in 2007. At St. Mike’s they were both four-year starters for the Purple Knights women’s basketball team, and each racked up more than 1,000 points.

The Class of 2014 will be inducted on May 2 at the annual Hall of Fame dinner at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Montpelier.

BHA wraps up season with Battle Royale

• Brattleboro Hockey Association celebrates the close of another successful season with its inaugural Blue v. White Battle Royale on Sunday, March 2, at 4:15 p.m. at Withington Rink.

The entire complement of BHA skaters, from novice thru Pee Wee, including their 14-and-under girls, will divide and attempt to conquer each other in two full-ice scrimmages.

Look for chili, macaroni and cheese, a bake sale, and the traditional raffle. This year the grand prizes are a Kindle Fire HD tablet, a Fender Precision electric bass guitar, and a pair of Dr. Dre headphones.

The BHA will is holding early registration for all of its next-season programs.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #243 (Wednesday, February 26, 2014). This story appeared on page D4.

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