Brattleboro guard Jack Cady scored 16 to lead the Bears to a 71-62 road win over Fair Haven in boys’ basketball action on Jan. 5.
Randolph T. Holhut/Commons file photo
Brattleboro guard Jack Cady scored 16 to lead the Bears to a 71-62 road win over Fair Haven in boys’ basketball action on Jan. 5.

Rebel boys fall to Poultney; BF avenges loss

Sometimes, you take a look at the records of the teams playing in the game you are going to cover and think that you are going to see a dud.

I wasn't expecting much from the Jan. 5 boys' basketball game in Townshend between the 2-5 Leland & Gray Rebels and the 1-8 Poultney Blue Devils. Instead of a dud, it turned out to be an exciting game that tested the mettle of the Rebels as they lost, 67-56.

The start of the game was bleak for the Rebels, as they trailed by as many as 11 points after the six minutes of the first quarter. But from that point, the Rebels went on a 15-6 run and tied the game, 21-21, with 4:35 left in the second quarter. Forward Cody Hescock had the hot hand, scoring 10 of his 20 points in the second quarter as the Rebels clung to a 28-27 halftime lead.

Leland & Gray kept up the momentum as guard Chip Winkler scored 12 of his team-high 22 points in the third quarter as the Rebels ended the quarter with a 50-47 lead.

However, the second half - and especially the fourth quarter - belonged Poultney's Ari Camp, who scored 17 of his team-high 23 points in the final two quarters. Free throw shooting also made a difference as the Blue Devils were 11-for-11 from the line in the fourth, including eight free throws from Camp.

Poultney also got 14 points, including four three-pointers, from Wyatt Gillett, and 13 points from Peyton Book. Together with Camp, they battled back to put the Blue Devils in front, 51-50, with 6:41 to play and held the Rebels to just six points in the fourth quarter.

While Rebels head coach Luis Vargas was pleased with Hescock and Winkler's efforts, he said after the game that the two biggest things his team needed to work on were team chemistry and "bringing the intensity for all four quarters."

Despite the loss, Vargas felt there were "a lot of positives" that came out of the effort and believes the 2-6 Rebels have time to pull things together for a playoff run. "We still believe in each other," he said.

Boys basketball

• The chaotic ending in the championship game of the Green Mountain Holiday Tournament in Chester on Dec. 14, a game where the Twin Valley Wildcats pulled out a last-second 51-48 victory over the Bellows Falls Terriers, left a mark on both teams.

Both Division III Bellows Falls and Division IV Twin Valley have the talent to be playing for a state basketball title in their respective divisions at the Barre Auditorium in March. While Twin Valley celebrated their hard-fought victory over BF, the Terriers were seething and were immediately counting down the days to Jan. 4 when the teams would face each other again, this time in Whitingham.

When I asked BF coach Evan Chadwick about the rematch after the Terriers defeated Woodstock on Dec. 29, and whether his players were thinking ahead to avenging the Twin Valley loss on Jan. 4, he laughed off the suggestion. But we both knew the reality was a bit different. The Terriers had a chance to make a statement with a big road win, and they weren't going to miss their shot.

Jaxon Clark scored 23 points as the Terriers came away with 63-53 win over the Wildcats. Unlike the first meeting, BF controlled the area around the basket and got lots of extra chances to score thanks to their size and determination to grab every possible rebound.

Wildcats guard Brayden Brown scored 25 points, but the Terriers managed to keep his teammates in check. BF led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter before turning aside a late Twin Valley comeback in the final 4:30 of regulation.

The intensity of this game apparently took the starch out of both teams when they both played again on Jan. 6. The Terriers lost, 69-44, to Otter Valley on Jan. 6 in Brandon to finish the week with a 5-3 record, while the Wildcats lost to White River Valley, 65-26, to fall to 4-3.

• Brattleboro picked up a big road win against Fair Haven on Jan. 5 as the Bears rallied in the second half to topple the Slaters, 71-62.

Fair Haven led by as many as 13 points midway through the third quarter, but Brattleboro closed out the third with a 15-5 run, then ended the fourth quarter with a 12-2 run to complete the comeback and snap a four-game losing streak.

While Slaters forward Phil Bean pummeled the Bears inside with a game-high 30 points and 11 rebounds, Brattleboro used a balanced attack to counter that performance. Jack Cady led Brattleboro with 16 points, including seven in the third quarter. Keagan Systo added 14 points and Jackson Emery and John Satterfield scored 12 and 11 points, respectively. The Bears improved to 3-5 with the win.

Girls' basketball

• Bellows Falls lost to Long Trail School, 39-29, on Jan. 4 to drop their record to 4-2.

• Leland & Gray split its two games last week, with a 53-20 win over Sharon Academy on Jan. 4 and a 51-39 loss to West Rutland on Jan. 6 to finish the week at 3-7.

• Twin Valley is still looking for its first win. On Jan. 6, the Wildcats lost to Arlington, 57-25, to fall to 0-6.

Ice hockey

• With a team that is small in number and short on experience, the Brattleboro boys have to play nearly flawless hockey to win games. Against U-32, penalties were a problem for the Bears and the result was a 7-1 loss at Withington Rink on Jan. 3.

Brattleboro got its only goal early in the first period from Henry Schwartz, assisted by Will Miskovich and Andy Cay, to tie the game at 1-1. Then the penalties started piling up, seven of them in all, which led to six unanswered goals by U-32.

The Bears trailed 3-1 heading into the third period thanks to some solid goaltending by James Fagley, but a 10-minute game misconduct penalty in the final period sealed the Bears' fate.

Brattleboro then turned things around on Jan. 6 with a 5-4 road win over Lyndon. Alex Dick scored a pair of goals, and Cay, Evan Wright, and Carter Mialkowski each added a goal. Fagley had 13 saves as the Bears improved to 2-5-1.

• It's been a tough season so far for the Brattleboro girls. They are 0-8 and have been outscored 65-2 in those eight losses.

On Jan. 3 against Kingdom Blades in St. Johnsbury, the Bears lost, 10-0. Alexandra Mosher had three goals and an assist to lead the Blades as Bears goaltender Nellie Sterling made 31 saves.

Against U-32 on Jan. 6, the Bears lost, 10-1. Greta Koenig scored Brattleboro's only goal as Sterling made 24 saves. Hannah Drury scored four goals and Alex Pickel, Emily Tringe, and Chloe Pembroke each had two goals for U-32.

Nordic skiing

• The Brattleboro Nordic team finally got a chance to get on the snow on Jan. 4 with a freestyle time trial race at Rikert Outdoor Center in Ripton.

"This was our first time on snow this season," wrote coach Amanda Dixon in an email. "It's always exciting and nerve wracking to have your first true skiing experience of the season be a race!"

Katherine Normandeau led the BUHS girls with an eighth place finish, completing her six 0.8 kilometer laps in 23 minutes, 59.3 seconds. Maeve Bald was 15th in 26:09.6, Prya Kitzmiller was 16th in 28.11.6, Maayan Coleman was 18th in 31:16.7, and Evelyn Kiehl 23rd in 40:14.3.

In the boys' race, Nico Jonathan-Leach was the top finisher for BUHS, skiing the six laps in 19:30.4. Willow Sharma was ninth in 19:50.6, Gabe Jeppsen-Belleci was 11th in 20:34.7, Oliver Herrick was 16th in 20:34.7, Desmond Longsmith was 19th in 22:44.0, Eben Wagner was 21st in 22:58.2, and Galen Fogarty was 29th in 26.11.1.

Wanna bet?

• Starting on Jan. 11, online sports wagering will be legal in Vermont.

In December, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fanatics Sportsbook were selected through a competitive bidding process by the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery. Those companies have been doing pre-registration for new Vermont customers over the past few weeks, and saturating the airwaves with ads touting their services.

Vermont is the last state in New England to legalize online sports wagering, which is projected to raise roughly $7 million in new revenue in its first year. The legislation signed by Scott last July, H.127, also calls for at least $250,000 of that money to go toward state programs to help Vermonters struggling with gambling addiction.

Betting on games has been going on for decades, despite it being illegal in every state except Nevada. That changed in 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a ban on sports betting was unconstitutional, and legal online betting operations sprouted like mushrooms after a rain. Now, more than 30 states permit sports wagering.

There are a few caveats for gambling in Vermont, however. You have to be 21 or older. You can't use a credit card. You can't wager on any Vermont college games unless the teams are playing in an NCAA tournament.

Like all gambling, there is the risk of going beyond your means if you're not careful. There is lot of truth in the old adage that you should bet only what you can afford to lose.

In the fine print that comes at the end of all the online gambling ads you see on TV, you see the toll-free numbers that bettors can call if they find themselves in trouble. Draft Kings, Fanduel, and the like put that in for the same reason that the Vermont Lottery always ends its ads with the admonition to "please play responsibly" - plausible deniability for any of the social costs.

People aren't always responsible, and that's the double-edged sword that comes with state governments legalizing vices in the hopes of earning lots of revenue through taxes and fees. The jury is still out on the effect of all the cannabis shops that are opening all over Vermont. We'll soon see how legalized sports gambling will work out in Vermont.

Senior bowling roundup

• The winter/spring season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl began on Jan. 4 with Good Times, Stayin' Alive, Slow Movers, and Stepping Stones II all tied for first at 4-1, and Hairiers, Four Seasons, High Rollers, and Four Pins all tied for second at 1-4.

Debbi Rittenhour had the women's high handicap game (238) and series (662), while Gary Montgomery had the men's high handicap game (256) and series (676). Good Times had the high team handicap game (858) and series (2,426).

Montgomery had the men's high scratch series (580) with a 224 game. Fred Ashworth had a 536 series, and Milt Sherman had a 534 series, as did Peter Deyo, who had a 192 game. Wayne Randall had a 501 series, John Walker had a 198 game, and Robert Rigby had a 192 game.

Carol Gloski had the women's high scratch series (463), with games of 156, 154, and 153. Shirley Aiken had the high scratch game (159) and also had a 155 game, while Diane Cooke had a 158 game.

Randolph T. Holhut, deputy editor of this newspaper, has written this column since 2010 and has covered sports in Windham County since the 1980s. Readers can send him sports information at [email protected].

This Sports column by Randolph T. Holhut was written for The Commons.

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