The Austine School for the Deaf closed its doors in 2014, and the tiny gymnasium where standouts such as Darryl Wetzel, Mike Carter, Madonna Coburn, and Jill Donohue once played is now home to the Brattleboro Winter Farmers’ Market. The school itself is now owned by the Winston Prouty Center and is home to several other tenants.
The basketball court looks pretty much as it did when the Austine Arrows boys’ and girls’ basketball teams were playing, albeit a little shopworn after nearly a decade without regular maintenance. The boards listing the all-time Austine career record holders are still on the wall. But now, another group of basketball players are trying to write their own history in this old gymnasium.
The St. Michael’s School boys’ basketball team plays its home games in the old Austine gym. The high school closed its doors in 1968, but its K-8 classes remained on Walnut Street. Growing demand for Catholic education saw St. Michael’s revive the high school in 2015. It remains the only Catholic school in southern Vermont.
Over the past few years, as St. Michael’s enrollment in grades 9-12 grew, so have its athletic offerings. The basketball team started up in 2018, took a couple of years off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now is back in its second post-pandemic season playing independent schools from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. The team is totally run by volunteers, including coach Nate Chechile.
“This is the first year of really getting back to a full-fledged program,” Chechile told me on the afternoon of Jan. 26, when I stopped by to see the Saints in action against Buxton School, a private school in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Buxton had only six players available for the game, and the Saints took full advantage by jumping out to a 25-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game before Chechile started giving the reserves the bulk of the playing time.
St. Mike’s led 33-14 at the half, and cruised to a 62-41 victory. Michael Pierce led the Saints with 19 points, while Anthony Bills added 15 points and Hudson Buckley chipped in nine points. All eight players dressed for the game scored for the Saints.
“We’re here to give kids an opportunity to compete,” said Chechile. The boys of St. Michael’s are definitely getting that chance, and if you want an opportunity to see what they’re up to, their next home game is Feb. 7 at 3:30 p.m. against The Academy at Charlemont (Mass).
• Brattleboro’s first home match of the season got snowed out, so fans had to wait until Jan. 28 to get a look at the Colonels at their home lanes at Brattleboro Bowl. They didn’t disappoint, as they won a four-team match against Fair Haven, Hartford, and Windsor.
The Colonels’ varsity bowlers got off to a fast start in the standard scoring games. No. 1 Thomas Bell had games of 194 and 213, while No. 2 Kelton Mager rolled a 136 and a 172. No. 3 Tucker Sargent had a 173 and a 154, while No. 4 Dorien Phillips had the individual high score of 222 in his first game and a 142 in his second. No. 5 Jacob Girard rolled a 135 and a 117 as the Colonels racked up a team total of 1,658 to clinch the top seed for the Baker round.
The extra bowlers also had a good day, with Charlie Forthofer rolling a 171 and 169, while Mateo Lopez-Course had a 188 and 140. Forthofer joined Bell, Mager, Sargent, and Phillips to bowl in the Baker round.
Brattleboro defeated No. 4 Hartford, 2-0, to set up the final against third-seeded Windsor, who dropped the first game to second-seeded Fair Haven and then won the next two games to advance.
The Colonels won the first match against Windsor, 159-114, but the two teams tied in the second match, 158-158. That forced the teams to do a “bowl-off,” which Windsor won, 59-47. Brattleboro then went on to the deciding match, 200-187.
“That was pretty stressful,” said Colonels coach Will Bassett about the bowl-off. Brattleboro has three more regular season matches until the playoffs.
• The undefeated West Rutland Golden Horde is the No. 1 team in Division IV and arguably one of the best basketball teams in the state, regardless of size. Leland & Gray and Bellows Falls found that out firsthand last week.
On Jan. 24, the Rebels faced West Rutland, and the hosts breezed to a 59-24 win. The Horde opened with a 17-2 run and led 30-9 by halftime. The Rebels had no chance after that.
Peyton Guay led the Horde with 19 points, with Arianna and Bella Coombs adding 10 and nine points, respectively. Maggie Parker led the Rebels with 10 points.
Three nights later in Westminster, the Horde rolled to a 92-35 win over Bellows Falls. Guay broke her own school record for the second time this season with 45 points and Arianna and Bella Coombs had 18 and 13 points, respectively.
Veronica Moore led the 4-9 Terriers with nine points, while Laura Kamel and Erin Ross chipped in eight points each.
• Leland & Gray bounced back from losses to West Rutland and White River Valley with a 62-23 road win over Mill River on Jan. 27. Samantha Morse led the 11-3 Rebels with 19 points, while Hannah Greenwood added 14 points.
• Sydney Perry had 14 points and 15 rebounds and Audrey Rupp had 14 points, five rebounds, and five steals as Windsor downed the Brattleboro Colonels, 53-21, at the BUHS gym on Jan. 27.
Windsor put the game away with a 17-3 run in the third quarter and led 40-15 heading into the final quarter. Montana Frehsee led the 4-9 Colonels with five points, while Reese Croutworst added four points.
• Long Trail rolled over winless Twin Valley, 48-9, on Jan. 24. The 0-7 Wildcats then lost to Mid-Vermont Christian, 44-4, on Jan. 26.
• Brattleboro lost two close ones last week. On Jan. 26, Burr & Burton pulled out a 61-57 overtime win over the visiting Colonels. Burr & Burton forward Will Ameden scored in the final seconds to tie the game to force overtime. Despite a 24-point effort by Brattleboro guard Cam Frost, the Bulldogs had seized the momentum and hung on for the win in the extra period.
On Jan. 28 at the BUHS gym, Brody Tyburski scored seven of his 10 points in the fourth quarter as Hartford rallied from a six-point deficit to take the lead with a minute to go and hang on for a 43-42 victory over Brattleboro The Colonels had a 34-28 lead heading into the final quarter, but the Hurricanes outscored Brattleboro 15-8 to pull out the win. Brattleboro is now 7-6.
• Rivendell beat BF, 75-61, on Jan. 28. The Terriers are now 7-4.
• Bad weather in January has meant a lot of postponed games for Twin Valley. The 1-7 Wildcats now have to play 12 games in the final 24 days of the regular season.
Green Mountain drops its mascot
• On Jan. 19, the Green Mountain Unified School District Board voted to discontinue the use of the name “Chieftains” as the school mascot.
The school had been slowly phasing out the Indian head logo over the past few years. It’s no longer on the uniforms of its sports teams and when Green Mountain recently refurbished the floor of Nason Gymnasium, the school left off that logo. It’s still painted on the wall of the gym, but probably not for long.
There will be hard feelings among the Green Mountain alumni. Brattleboro has certainly been there with the fight over the old Colonel logo. However, given the change of attitudes toward the use of Native American imagery for sports team branding, dropping the Chieftain name was an overdue, but welcome, move.
Last week, Tom Haley of the Rutland Herald came up with a good suggestion for Green Mountain: use the old Chester High School mascot — GM’s predecessor — for their sports teams: “Sentinels.”
Sounds like a good idea, and sounds better than the alternative of having no mascot at all.
Rec. Dept. offers third session of ice skating ‘FUN’damentals
• The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department says that the Nelson Withington Skating Facility at Living Memorial Park will offer the third session of ice skating “FUN”damentals for those who completed session 1 and session 2.
Note that any new participants who did not complete session 1 and session 2 must have prior skating ability. Participants in this session should be able to sit on the ice and get up properly, march across the ice, do a two-foot forward glide and two-foot forward glide with a dip position held, and do forward swizzles, backward wiggles, beginning snowplow stops, and scooter pushes.
Stacey Chickering, Suzanne McCaughtry, and Megan Pratt will be the instructors for session 3, which will run on Tuesday nights (Feb. 14, 21, and 28) from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Withington Skating Facility. The fee is $54 for Brattleboro Residents and $69 for non-residents. This session requires a minimum of 15 skaters to run and has a maximum of 50 participants. This hour-long class includes lessons and practice time. Skate rentals are available for $3, and are not included in the lesson fee.
You can register at bit.ly/700-skate or at the Gibson-Aiken Center, 207 Main St., Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. For more information on programs, events, facility information, and more, call the Rec. Dept. at 802-254-5808.