Getting to Barre Municipal Auditorium is the dream of every small-town Vermont basketball team.
Division I teams have to settle for playing at UVM’s Roy L. Patrick Gymnasium, which is exciting in its own way, but nowhere near as freighted with history and tradition as the “Aud,” which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
Built by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression and completed in 1939, the Aud was touted by USA Today as one of the best places in America to watch high school basketball. I can’t disagree.
The Aud can pack nearly 1,900 people in there, or about half of Patrick Gymnasium’s capacity. I’ve been there for tournament games, and the atmosphere is absolutely electric. If you say you really love basketball, you owe it to yourself to watch at least one game there.
As the No. 1 seed in Division IV, the Twin Valley boys knew they had an express lane to that old brick barn on Seminary Hill, with two home games in Wilmington before hitting the highway to Barre.
Their playdown game on Feb. 25 was a breeze, as the 19-1 Wildcats took on 16th seeded Websterville Baptist, and barely broke a sweat in delivering a 72-29 beatdown.
Senior point guard Colin Lozito surpassed 1,000 points for his career and finished with a game-high 25 points with four assists and five steals.
Senior guard Dal Nesbitt added 15 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and three steals for Twin Valley, which led 27-14 at the half before blowing the game open in the third-quarter. Sam Molner (7 points, five rebounds) and DJ Lazelle (6 points, seven rebounds) also contributed.
Noah Johnson scored 12 points for Websterville, which ended its season at 1-20.
On Friday night, the Wildcats faced No. 8 Twinfield and again needed a big second half to come away with a 54-46 win.
Twinfield (10-12) beat ninth-seeded Mid Vermont Christian, 72-57, to advance to the quarterfinals. Twinfield had already faced Twin Valley before, on Dec. 27 when they lost 49-46 in the championship game of the Green Mountain Holiday Tournament, so they knew what to expect.
The first half was sloppy, with both teams struggling to make shots. Twinfield had a 24-22 lead at the half, but Wildcats coach Chris Brown said he wasn’t worried.
“We’ve been a second-half team all season,” he said. “I knew if we kept shooting the ball would start going in eventually.”
And that’s exactly what happened: Lozito and Dal Nesbitt’s shots started falling, and a 6-0 burst in the first minute of the third quarter was enough to settle the Wildcats down.
“Coach Brown said the first five minutes of the second half were key,” said Lozito. “Once we got back to doing the things we know we can do, we played a lot better.”
But Twinfield kept hanging around, thanks to a monster 24-point effort by senior forward Josiah Schrum. With the game tied 41-41 with 6:38 to play, Twin Valley finished with a 13-5 run to punch their ticket to the Aud. Lozito finished with 21 points, and Dal Nesbitt added 19 for the Wildcats.
On Monday night, the Wildcats defeated No. 4 Chelsea, 61-46 at the Aud in the semifinals. Twin Valley will now play for the state title on Saturday. Look for our coverage of both games next week.
Terriers, Colonels fall in quarterfinals
• Bellows Falls and Brattleboro found themselves in similar situations. Both were seeded 10th in their respective divisions, and both faced a long ride up Route 7 to face their higher-seeded foes in the first round.
The outcome in the first round was also similar, as the Terriers and Colonels both came up winners. Unfortunately, the outcome in the second round was also similar, as both teams were ousted in their respective quarterfinals.
In a Division II game on Feb. 26, BF beat the seventh-seeded Vergennes Commodores, 56-47. Vergennes led for most of the game, but Bellows Falls got it together in the final quarter and outscored them 19-9 to eke out a win.
Kendrick Mills tallied a game-high 30 points to lead the Terriers, including 11 in the fourth-quarter rally. Brian McAnuff contributed 10 points, six of them coming in the final quarter.
Liam Hayes (12 points) and Jarret LaFleche (11 points) were top-scorers for Vergennes (9-12).
The win earned BF a trip to Lyndon last Friday to face the second-seeded Vikings in the quarterfinals, and the Terriers took a drubbing, 71-44.
Three Lyndon players tallied in double figures as the Vikings clinched their first semifinal appearance since 1985. Jay Cobb (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Axerre Ntabana (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Kyle Cipollone (13 points) led the way for the 17-5 Vikings.
Mills had another big game as he led the 8-14 Terriers with 18 points. David Dunbar chipped in with 10.
• On Feb. 27, Isaac Roach scored 15 points to lead Brattleboro to an upset over the No. 7 Middlebury Tigers in a Division I matchup. Chris McAulliffe added 14 points for the Colonels, who also got 10 points from Sam Siegel. Bobby Ritter had 14 points to lead the Tigers, which finished the season at 11-10.
Brattleboro advanced to face No. 2 Burlington in Saturday’s Division I quarterfinal, and lost to the Seahorses, 55-45.
The Colonels stayed close in the early going before the Seahorses pulled away with a 10-2 run in the second quarter for a 25-18 lead at the half. Another 10-2 run to start the third quarter got Burlington’s lead up to 15 before the Colonels rallied one last time to cut the Seahorses down to 35-31 early in the final quarter.
From that point, Burlington went on a 12-0 run to clinch the win. It was the second straight year the Seahorses advanced to the semifinals.
Burlington shut down the Brattleboro offense by double-teaming, and occasionally triple-teaming, McAuliffe, who was held to 10 points. Colonels coach Joe Rivers said prior to the game he wanted to see at least three of his players in double-figures, but only Siegel would join McAuliffe, as he scored 15.
Asmin Mostarlic had 21 points and nine rebounds for Burlington. Josh Hale and Shaquane Cooperwood each added 11.
‘Nothin’ But Net’ Tournament scheduled for March 15
• The Brattleboro Sunrise Rotary Club’s 18h annual “Nothin’ But Net” Tournament is set for Saturday, March 15 at Brattleboro Union High School. This 3-on-3 event is for the entire community, with net proceeds benefitting the Brattleboro Sunrise Rotary Scholarship Fund.
Teams compete in a double-elimination format in divisions for adult men and women, and middle school and high school boys and girls. Entry fees are $50 per adult team, $40 per student team. There’s also a 3-point shooting contest for men and women, and a free-throw contest. Both are open to the public as well.
Registration deadline is Friday, March 14. For more information and to register, call Toni Sewing at 802-254-0047 or visit www.brattleborosunriserotary.org.
Help for Small Fry Baseball
• Your icy lawn notwithstanding, spring is on its way and another season of youth baseball is around the corner.
Bill Christmas and Larry Robinson, the building and repair committee for Brattleboro Small Fry Baseball, write to offer their thanks to all who helped refurbish and repair Small Fry Field’s dugouts and refreshment stand:
Brattleboro Sheet Metal, Brown and Roberts Hardware, Forever Green Laminates, Kerber Farms Lumber Co., Leader Home Centers, Ned Euphrat, Perkins Home Center, WW Building Supply, and Wayside Fences.
Robinson said these were the first major repairs to the buildings since their construction in the 1980s. Without help from these supporters, he said, the repairs would have been impossible.
Rink closes March 9
• Another hopeful sign of spring: Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department reports that Nelson Withington Skating Facility at Living Memorial Park is closing for the season on Sunday, March 9, at 10:15 p.m. Get there while you can.