In the latest illustration of Yogi Berra's famous adage, “It ain't over till it's over,” Rachel Rooney calmly sank two free throws with 0.1 seconds left in the game to give the Brattleboro Colonels girls' basketball team a 50-48 win over the Burr & Burton Bulldogs in the Leland & Gray Booster Club Tip-Off Classic in Townshend on Dec. 13.
The momentum from that improbable finish carried over into the tourney's championship game the next day, as the Colonels took care of Leland & Gray, 47-14.
Rooney was named the tournament MVP for her heroics in game one against the Bulldogs, and a nine-point performance against Leland & Gray.
The Colonels trailed the Bulldogs by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, but Rooney took over the game by scoring 10 points of her team-high 17 points in the final quarter. Madison Johnson had a pair of hoops off the bench and Lauren Sargent had 5 of her 9 points in the fourth as Brattleboro outscored the Bulldogs, 26-11.
It was a raggedy game for both teams, as one might figure for opening night. Burr & Burton led 8-7 after the first quarter and 20-16 at the half. But the Colonels' shooting went cold in the third quarter as the Bulldogs started to pull away and ultimately built up a 37-24 lead heading into the fourth.
The roles were reversed in the final quarter as the Bulldogs - aside from Grace Pinkus, who had 8 of her game-high 23 points in the final 8 minutes- weren't hitting their shots as the Colonels turned up the defense and Rooney, Sargent, and Johnson got hot.
It was a 48-all game as the clock ticked down toward what looked like a certain overtime period. Burr & Burton had the ball in their end of the court with 2.3 seconds left, but a turnover and a foul put Rooney at the free throw line with a chance to complete an improbable comeback and give Chris Worden his first win as coach of the Colonel girls.
“Rachel really hustled back to play defense,” said Worden, who succeeded long-time coach Paul Freed. “She came up with the ball and she got shoved to pick up the foul. We didn't play our best, but we didn't give up.”
• After an ending like that, the second game of the Tip-Off Tournament between the Rebels and the Arlington Eagles was almost anti-climatic. Leland & Gray went on a 13-5 run in the first 6 minutes of the game and went on to win, 33-14.
Arin Bates scored 6 points and Sydney Hescock scored 7 of her team-high 11 points in the first quarter as the Rebels took a 15-7 lead.
It was 21-9 Rebels at the half, then both teams went into an offensive coma in the third quarter as the Rebels managed only 2 points, yet still maintained a 23-14 lead. Arlington was held scoreless in the final quarter. Sarah Nolan ended up scoring 12 of the Eagles' 14 total points.
• In the championship game, the Colonels started out slow again, but soon took control of the game. Alyssa Scherlin scored 12 points as Brattleboro won the tourney for the second straight year. Jessica Tatro had 6 points and 8 rebounds. Bates and Hescock were held to six and four points, respectively.
• The Twin Valley Wildcats got their season off right by winning the Bob Abrahamson Tip-Off Classic in Proctor.
In the first game, the Wildcats slogged their way through a 36-31 win over Poultney on Dec. 12. That got the Wildcats a match-up with Proctor, which advanced to the final thanks to 13 three-pointers in a 78-69 win over Twinfield.
In the win over Poultney, Owen Grinold was high scorer for Twin Valley with nine points. Colin McHale added seven and Izaak Park hit a pair of three-pointers.
Twin Valley led 14-13 at the half, but had their best quarter on offense in the third with a 13-4 run that all but clinched the win. Poultney rallied in the final quarter, but the Wildcats hung on for the win.
Against Proctor on Dec. 13, the Wildcats beat Proctor, 49-41. Twin Valley fired in eight three-pointers on the way to taking a 29-16 lead at the half. Proctor rallied in the second half, but were undone by committing too many fouls and not converting on their own chances at the free throw line.
Park made five three-pointers and finished with 18 points. Jack McHale added 16 points as Twin Valley is off to a 2-0 start on the season.
• Brattleboro knocked down 12 three-point shots, but it was not enough to overcome a 40-point night by Wahconah's Kevin Huban in a 66-57 loss to the Warriors in Dalton, Mass., on Dec. 13.
Huban scored 28 points in the second half to lead the Warriors to the victory in the opening game for both teams. The Colonels had the hot hand in the first half, scoring 25 points in the second quarter, but still trailed Wahcohah, 34-33, at intermission.
Greg Fitzgerald led the Colonels with 23 points, including seven three-pointers. Tyler Millerick added 19, with three three-pointers.
• Fair Haven, the defending Division II champions, went 15-for-37 from beyond the three-point arc and used the long ball to roll to a 65-42 home win over Bellows Falls on Dec. 13.
Ryleigh Coloutti had seven three-pointers and finished with 23 points to lead the Slaters, who held a 37-15 lead over the Terriers at halftime and were never threatened.
Taylor Goodell led BF with 13 points, including three three-pointers, and Halle Dickerson added 12 points.
• A strong second-half gave White River Valley a 47-25 win over Twin Valley in South Royalton on Dec. 13.
White River Valley led 19-15 at the half, then turned on the defense in the second half to shut down the Wildcats. Sarah Howe led WRV with 17 points, while Kylie Rece had nine points for Twin Valley.
• The season is off to a shaky start for the Brattleboro Colonels.
They had a pretty good alibi for losing their opener, 9-1, to Missisquoi on Dec. 7 - a wrong turn by the bus driver at White River Junction sent the Colonels on a lengthy detour through the Northeast Kingdom.
By the time the driver got their bearings and the team found its way to Highgate Arena, on the opposite side of the state, the Colonels arrived only a few minutes before the opening face-off and suffering from a severe case of bus legs.
“After one shift, they were gassed,” said Colonels head coach Eugene Frost.
There were no ready alibis for the Colonels home opener on Dec. 11, a 5-2 loss to the Woodstock Wasps at Withington Rink.
“[Woodstock] is a more sound team than us,” Frost said. “We played in our end of the ice for most of the game and penalties really hurt us.”
Brattleboro had six penalties in all. However, the crucial stretch came in the first period, when the Wasps were on the power play for nearly six minutes thanks to three consecutive minors called on the Colonels.
While the Wasps got only one goal during that stretch - from Kendyl Boisvert with 4:46 left in the first period - the Colonels were still wobbly enough at full-strength to give up another goal 49 seconds later. Faye Stevens got it to put the Colonels into a 2-0 deficit heading into the first intermission.
There was plenty of scoring in the final five minutes of the second period, but it was Woodstock that got the first three goals. Over a 90 second span, Allie Cimis and Lizzy Peck scored power play goals and Cimis added an even-strength tally to make it 5-0 with 3:39 remaining in the second period.
To the Colonels' credit, they didn't give up and followed up with a pair of goals in the final three minutes.
Rosie Carignan spoiled the shutout with a goal at the three minute mark, set up by Liv Romo. Ninth-grader Willow Romo then scored her first varsity goal with 17.7 seconds left; Juliana Miskovich got the assist.
Frost said that better puck control and finishing plays were the priority items for the Colonels to work on.
• After spending much of their opening game on the penalty kill, Brattleboro took advantage of a pair of 5-on-3 power plays to score two goals in the second period and prevail in a 5-2 win over the Rutland Raiders on Dec. 11 at Castleton University's Spartan Arena.
The Raiders gave the Colonels seven power plays - six of them in the first two periods - and Brattleboro scored three times.
The defense did a job too as goaltender Austin Wood (22 saves) and Derek Harvey (1 save) held the Raiders scoreless in the final period. Rutland goaltender Augie Louras did well to keep the game reasonably close with 27 saves.
Rutland scored first on a power play goal from Dillon Moore at 6:55 in the first period. With the Colonels on a 5-on-3 power play, Mason Foard then tied the game at 6:34 of the second period; Nathan Powers and Anthony Palomba had the assists.
A breakaway goal by Gabe Heiden and a blast from the top of the right face-off circle by Jack Pattison made it 3-1 before Ryan Melen scored with a minute left in the second period to pull the Raiders to within a goal heading into the final period.
Brattleboro thwarted hopes of a Rutland rally as Gavin Howard and Joe Koes scored goals in the final period.
The 2-0 Colonels host Lyndon on Dec. 18 at Withington Rink.
Rec. Dept. plans extra youth activities for holiday break
• With the holiday break coming up for Windham Southeast students, the Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department will be offering some extra programming. Call the Rec. Dept. office if there are special needs, or for more information, at 802-254-5808.
There will be additional Open Gym and Game Room hours on Dec. 23, 26, 27, 30, and 31, from 1:30 to 5 p.m., for grades K-12 at the Gibson-Aiken Center. This is a free, supervised program with a variety of activities to choose from. Along with basketball, there is foosball, air hockey, pool, arts and crafts, LEGOs and more.
In addition, on Dec. 23, 26, 27, 30, and 31 and January 1, the Recreation & Parks Department will have additional public skating times from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Skate rentals will be available. For more information, call the Nelson Withington Skating Facility at 802-257-2311.
Also at Withington Rink, the Recreation & Parks Department will offer additional Stick Time on Thursday, Dec. 26, from 11 a.m. to noon. This is open to all ages and abilities and non-Brattleboro Hockey Association participants are welcome. Participants must have their own helmets and gloves.
Stick Time is supervised and allows participants to skate and shoot some pucks. The cost is $3 for resident students and $4 for Brattleboro adults.
Note that the Gibson-Aiken Center will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day, while Withington Rink will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
• The Recreation and Parks Department and Brattleboro Bowl will co-sponsor a Bowling Day on Friday, Dec. 27. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event will take place at the Brattleboro Bowl on Putney Road. An adult must accompany children under the age of 10. The cost per person is $7 and includes two games, shoe rental, plus a hot dog and a drink.
Senior bowling roundup
• Magic in Motion and Crash & Burn (both 48-27) are tied for first in the standings after Week 15 of the fall season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl.
Stayin' Alive (46-29) is in third, followed by Ageless Wonders (45-30), Whatevers, The Drifters, and Us'ns (all 42-33), Trash-O-Matic and One Pointers (both 41-34), Delayed Reaction (28-47), and Split Ends (24-51).
Brenda Gilbert had the women's high handicap game (253), while Sally Perry had the high handicap series (665). Jon Peters had the men's high handicap game (279), while Les Wigdor has the high handicap series (733). Stayin' Alive had the high team handicap game (918) and series (2,588).
In scratch scoring, Wigdor led the way with games of 233, 201, and 189 on the way to a 613 series. Robert Rigby had scores of 206, 196, and 190 in his 592 series, while Gary Montgomery had a 213 game as part of his 518 series.
Wayne Randall had a 205 game as part of his 517 series, Warren Corriveau Sr. had a 182 as part of his 514 series and Marty Adams had a 181 in his 504 series. Fred Bump had a 200 game and Jerry Dunham had a 186 game.
Josie Rigby led the women with the high scratch series (534) and the second-highest game (180), while Pamela Greenblot had the high scratch game (199) and the second-highest series (502).