The second season of Interscholastic Unified Basketball, a partnership between Special Olympics Vermont and the Vermont Principals' Association, wraps up this week, and the Brattleboro Colonels have made it to the final four.
Brattleboro earned the South's top seed with a 4-1 regular season record to secure the home court advantage through the finals.
The Colonels hosted No. 8 seed Leland & Gray in a first-round game at the BUHS gym on May 2, and came away with a 46-38 win.
Compared to the first game that these two teams played against each other on March 29, a 42-24 Brattleboro win, the Rebels played much better in the rematch. And even though the Rebels did not win a game in their first season of Unified ball, head coach Terry Merrow was pleased.
“For our first year together, we were pretty good,” he said. “But our whole philosophy this season was for these kids to have a good experience.”
Rebels assistant coach Phoebe Connolly agreed. “They learned a lot and improved with each game, and the big reason why was all the work that the peer partners put in. They really helped show the kids how to play better.”
It looked like the Colonels were going to roll to another big win. They led 12-4 at the end of the first and 24-14 at the half. Peer partners Shenise Taliaferro and Tanner Bell spread the ball around for the Colonels, as Kayli Nicholson, Joy Young, and Kayla Parro got open looks at the basket and made their shots.
A pair of baskets from Ben Stone, three more from Brandon Holcomb, and a 15-footer from Sammi Pelton kept the Rebels in it.
In the third quarter, Zach Smith got hot for the Colonels and scored 8 of his game-high 12 points. Jacob Williams, who had 6 points in the first half, also scored 6 points in the second half to finish with 12 points. Nicholson and Young finished with 8 points each, while Cody Hellus dominated the boards.
The Rebels trailed 38-18 with 3:04 left in the third, but they outscored the Colonels the rest of the way to turn a blowout into a much closer game.
Stone had 10 points in the second half to finish with 14. Holcomb added 6 points in the second half and ended up with 12. Savannah Lawley got all of her 6 points in the second half and Teresa Derosia finished with 4 points.
With the win over Leland & Gray, the Colonels advanced to the quarterfinal round on May 5, and beat fifth-seeded Middlebury, 44-38.
“Our kids are having a blast,” said Brattleboro coach Todd Bell. “It's great to see how well everyone is playing.”
At press time, Brattleboro was set to face No. 7 Mill River in the semifinals on May 8. Mill River upset third-seeded Otter Valley, 65-57, to advance into the final four.
The winner of the South semifinal will face the winner of the North semifinal on May 9 between top-seeded Mount Mansfield and No. 3 Champlain Valley in the Unified state championship game on May 11 at Castleton University.
• Instead of a tense pitchers duel, Brattleboro rolled over Mount Anthony in a 16-1 win in a five-inning game cut short by the mercy rule at Tenney Field on May 3.
The Colonels struck for 14 hits, including 3 each from Leif Bigelow and Kam Pelkey. Tanner Bell and Conor Hiner each added 2 hits, while Dan Petrie, Logan Morton, Hiner, Pelkey and Bigelow each drove in 2 runs. Morton's two-run double was his first varsity hit.
Brattleboro scored 3 runs in the first inning, 7 in the second, 4 in the third, and 2 more in the fourth; a completely different game compared to the Colonels' 2-0 extra-innings win over the Patriots in Bennington on April 13.
The common denominator in both games was Bigelow. He struck out 5, walked no one, and held the Patriots hitless over 4 innings to get the win. Adam Newton pitched the fifth inning. The Colonels are now 6-2 and in the middle of an 8-team scrum battling for first place in Division I.
• Bellows Falls lost a 3-2 extra-inning thriller to Rutland on May 1. Rutland's Jacob Godfrey drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, when he singled home Reece de Castro.
De Castro, who hit a double to get on base in the ninth, was also the winning pitcher in relief of starter Zach Bates.
• Twin Valley had another rough week, playing Black River to a 5-5 tie on May 2, and getting whacked by Green Mountain, 18-2, on May 4.
Against Black River, the Wildcats scored 3 runs in the first inning on consecutive hits by Joey Rafus, James McGovern, and Allen Cole. Troy Felisko scored the tying run in the fifth when he reached on a bunt single and eventually scored before rain stopped the game.
Against Green Mountain, Troy Felisko went 2-for-3 and singled home Jordan Warner in the second inning to lead the Wildcats. Alex Kurucz scored the other run for Twin Valley on a walk to Lucas Messing. The Wildcats are 0-3-1.
• Leland & Gray lost to Woodstock, 13-8, in a May 4 game in Townshend. Losing pitcher Joel Emmons went 6 innings, striking out 4, walking 5, and giving up six hits. Patrick McDonald relieved Emmons in the seventh.
It was the third time this season that the 2-4 Rebels have given up 10 runs or more. McDonald led the Rebels' hitters with a 2-for-4 day, Bryce Karg and Walker Hamer both went 2-for-3.
• Ask any coach, and they'll tell you that they'd rather have their team be tested and win a close game than win in a blowout.
Leland & Gray had it both ways last week. Against Poultney on May 2, the visiting Rebels rolled to a 30-2 win in five innings as the Blue Devils' pitchers gave up 24 walks and 15 hits.
At home the next day against Bellows Falls, the Rebels got a big lead early and withstood a wild seventh inning comeback by the Terriers to hang for a 7-4 victory.
Having beaten BF by a 11-1 score the previous week, Rebels coach Tammy Clausen said she was expecting a better game from the Terriers. “I'd much rather have a game like this than a 30-2 game,” she said.
Winning pitcher Olivia Brown held BF to one run over the first six innings. But with two outs in the seventh, Emily Bazin doubled and scored on a single by Brooke James.
Pinch hitter Maia Record followed with an RBI double, and Aly Bashaw walked, but the rally and the game ended when Murphy Hicks doubled to left, and Bashaw got tripped up by her coach, Pete Fry, as she rounded third. Bashaw tumbled to the ground and was tagged out by Rebels third baseman MacKenzie Boyle.
Hicks was the losing pitcher, giving up 5 of the Rebels' 7 runs over five innings. Paxton Santorelli finished up for the 1-6 Terriers.
Emma Densmore hit a pair of doubles for the 5-2 Rebels, while Jessie Stockwell hit a pair of singles.
• Brattleboro has started out the season well, but Mount Anthony has been even better.
Freshman Emilie O'Brien hit 2 doubles as the Patriots completed a season sweep of the Colonels with an 8-4 victory at Sawyer Field on May 3.
Both teams were hitting the ball, as they combined for 18 hits. Marleigh Greene and Cat Worthington each hit a two-run homer for MAU, while Emmalee Waite hit a solo homer and Hailey Derosia added a ground-rule double for the Colonels.
The difference in the game was defense. Two Colonel infield errors in the sixth inning opened the door for the Patriots. Worthington's home run to center field and another unearned run made it 8-3 MAU and put the game out of reach. Brattleboro finished the week at 4-2.
• The Brattleboro boys had a pair of sudden death overtime games last week.
On the road at Keene, N.H., on May 1, the Colonels lost, 11-10. Brattleboro forced overtime with a second-half comeback that featured goals from Alex Fitch and Jack Gagnon. Both finished with 3 goals each. Matt Gaboriault had 2 goals and an assist, Nate Tyler had a goal and an assist, and Ryan Tyler and Charlie Burroughs each scored.
At Natowich Field against Amherst, Mass., on May 3, the Colonels hung on for a 15-14 win. Gagnon scored Brattleboro's final 4 goals, including the game-winner just seconds into overtime, and finished with 7 goals and a pair of assists.Gaboriault had 4 goals and 2 assists, Fitch scored a pair of goals, and Burroughs and Ryan Tyler each added another goal for the 2-5 Colonel boys.
• Liz Day scored 9 goals and had 3 assists as she led the Brattleboro girls to a 17-12 win over Burr & Burton on May 2 at Natowich Field.
Brattleboro had an 11-8 lead at the half, but Burr & Burton got to within a goal early in the second half before the Colonels took control to stay. Tobin Lonergan and Sam Gragin each scored 4 goals as the Colonel girls improved to 5-1.
• The Brattleboro boys swept a home-and-home series with Woodstock last week.
On May 1 in Woodstock, the Colonels won, 6-1. Forest Zabriskie and Jack Spanierman took No. 1 doubles while Martin Sipowicz, Alex Shuey, Jonah Petrie, Ari Essunfeld, and Mason Powers all won their singles matches.
In the return match in Brattleboro on May 3, the Colonels were 5-2 winners. Powers and Essunfeld won their No. 1 doubles match 6-3, 6-0. Sipowicz (6-2, 6-0), Shuey (6-1, 6-2), Josh Nordheim (6-2, 6-1), and Tom Szpila (6-1, 6-1) were the singles winners for the 4-2 Colonel boys.
Post 37 baseball plans information meeting
• An informational meeting for all players interested in playing for Bellows Falls Post 37 American Legion Baseball will be held Sunday, May 21, at 5 p.m., at Hadley Field on the campus of Bellows Falls Union High School in Westminster. In case of rain, the meeting will be held in the BFUHS cafeteria at the same time.
On Saturday, June 10, at 10 a.m., Post 37 will conduct an official tryout at BFUHS. The rain date is Sunday, June 11, at 10 a.m. Questions can be directed to Bill Lockerby at 802-376-8951, Shawn Burke at 802-254-0542, Jarrod James at 802-598-6203, or Kevin Vancor at 802-376-9558.
Get ready for summer at the Rec
• The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department will hold its annual Summer Program Registration Extravaganza on Wednesday and Thursday, May 17 and 18, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., in the Conference Room at the Gibson-Aiken Center, 207 Main St.
With just one stop, you'll be able to register for all their summer programs - Summer Day Camp, Little Peoples Camp, “Hoop It Up” Basketball Camp, Baseball Camp, Gymnastics Camp, Track & Field, Mountain Biking, Challenger Soccer Camp, US Sports Camp, Discounted Pool Passes, Lacrosse Camp, Mad Science Camp, and more.
Look for the Rec's Summer Brochure, which will be distributed at the Brattleboro Elementary Schools, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Gibson-Aiken Center, visit the Rec sites at www.brattleboro.org and Facebook, or call 802-254-5808 for more information.
Senior bowling roundup
• The spring season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League began last week with eight new teams. Week 1 saw Team 6 and Team 8 tied for first at 5-0 and Team 1 and Team 3 tied for second at 4-1. Team 2 and Team 4 are tied for third at 1-4 and Team 5 and Team 7 are tied for fourth at 0-5.
Jeanne Czuy had the high handicap game (238) and series (647) for the women, while Dick Cooke had the men's high handicap game (249) and series (653). Team 1 had the high team handicap game (863) and series (2,412).
Jerry Dunham (200) had the only 200-plus game, while Fred Ashworth (507) and Warren Corriveau Sr., (536) were the only bowlers with 500-plus series.