Brattleboro boys' basketball coach Winston Sailsman Jr. has said all season that his team has often had two problems in games - committing too many turnovers and not finishing strong in the final minutes.
After a come-from-behind 52-51 win over the Burr & Burton Bulldogs on Jan. 26 at the BUHS gym, the Bears took care of both problems. They took better care of the ball, Sailsman said, cutting the number of turnovers in half against the Bulldogs with just 13 compared to the 28 turnovers that were committed in the Bears' 77-37 loss at Hartford on Jan. 23.
As for finishing strong, the Bears went on a 7-1 run in the final two minutes to clinch the win after Brattleboro trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half.
"We've had our hearts broken too many times in close games," Sailsman said. "This was a big step forward for us."
For the first three quarters, it didn't look like the Bears had a comeback in them. They trailed 13-8 after the first quarter, 26-16 at the half, and 39-28 heading into the final quarter.
But the Bulldogs let the Bears hang around just a little bit too long. They saw their lead slowly get chipped away bit by bit thanks to aggressive defense and some timely baskets by the Bears quintet of guards John Satterfield and Oscar Korson, and forwards Karson Elliott, Jackson Emery, and Johnathan Haskins.
The final flourish came with 7.6 seconds remaining, when Elliott calmly sank a three-pointer right in front of the Bears' bench to win the game. It was the last of nine three-point baskets on the night for Brattleboro - five for Korson (who finished with a game-high 15 points), three for Elliot, and one for Satterfield.
Elliot and Haskins finished with nine points each, Emery had eight points, and Satterfield scored seven in a balanced Bears attack. Forward Will Ameden led the Bulldogs with 14 points, but only four of them came in the second half. Noah Rourke and Zakariah Chani each added 11 points.
Brattleboro finished the week with a 5-9 record, while Burr & Burton fell to 6-7. The Bears will host Mount Anthony on Feb. 2 to kick off the first of the final five games of the regular season.
• How good is Bellows Falls this season? They have outscored opponents by 20 points or more in six of their first eight wins of the season, including a 56-29 victory over Sharon Academy on Jan. 22 at Holland Gymnasium.
But the mark of a really good team is the ability to win on the road against a tough opponent, and the Terriers passed that test with an intense and hard-fought 36-29 victory over Brattleboro on Jan. 25 in the BUHS gym.
BF jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first four minutes of the game, but a pair of three-pointers by Bears guard Reese Croutworst shifted the momentum and the Terriers ended the first quarter with a 14-12 lead.
The second quarter was equally close as both teams contested every shot, every rebound, every possession with tenacity. BF had a 19-17 lead at the half, and turned up the defensive intensity another notch. Brattleboro got lots of good looks at the basket, but their shots were not falling and the BF defense prevented the Bears from any second-chance shots.
BF coach James Pecsok said the key to the defensive effort was hustle and communication. " We hustled, we talked, we worked hard, and we got after it," he said. "It wasn't just a couple of people. It was really everybody that played that made that impact defensively."
A three-pointer by Kate Pattison got the BF lead down to 23-22, but an 8-0 run by BF keyed by freshman guard Abby Nystrom closed out the third quarter and gave the Terriers a 31-22 lead.
The Bears again rallied as Mallory Newton and Croutworst scored to pull within four, 33-29, with 2:33 left in the game. Brattleboro got no closer as the Bears could not get a basket the rest of the way.
"We just couldn't put it in the bucket," said Brattleboro coach Karen Henry. "Those are shots we'd make in any other game. That was the difference."
Nystrom and forward Laura Kamel led BF with 10 points each. Croutworst had four three-pointers and finished with a game-high 14 points. Pattison added seven points, and Newton and Montana Frehsee each scored four points.
In BF's victory over Sharon, Kamel finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Nystrom also scored 16. With the two wins, the Terriers improved to 9-2.
• Brattleboro bounced back from the loss to BF with a 41-38 road win over Fair Haven on Jan. 27. Abby Henry led the Bears with 12 points, while Pattison added nine and Newton chipped in seven. The 6-6 Bears will travel to Bennington to face Mount Anthony on Feb. 1.
• Leland & Gray withstood a fourth-quarter comeback by the Poultney Blue Devils and hung on for a 37-31 road win on Jan. 23. Maggie Parker led the Rebels with 18 points, and Mary Sanderson added nine points. With a 36-22 road win over Rivendell on Jan. 25, the Rebels improved to 6-8.
• Twin Valley kept things close in the first half but was overwhelmed in the second half by Poultney in a 44-13 loss in Whitingham on Jan. 25. Poultney led 18-7 at halftime and held the 0-10 Wildcats to just six points in the second half.
• Bellows Falls ended their five-game losing streak as the Terriers rallied to beat Windsor, 75-64, at Holland Gymnasium on Jan. 23. Colby Dearborn scored 15 of his team-high 19 points during the fourth-quarter comeback. Forward Jaxon Clark also scored 19 points.
Against Fair Haven on Jan. 27, the visiting Terriers lost, 75-63, as Phil Bean scored 33 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead the Slaters. Clark led 6-8 BF with 20 points, followed by 15 from Cole Moore, and 13 from Colby Dearborn.
• Leland & Gray put up a good fight, but Twin Valley held the Rebels to just three points in the final quarter as the Wildcats rolled to a 65-46 victory on Jan. 23 in Townshend.
Twin Valley guard Brayden Brown led all scorers with 21 points, while Noah Dornburgh added 18 points. Cody Hescock was the 2-11 Rebels' top scorer with 18 points, and Chip Winkler had 10 points.
• With a 54-51 road win over Springfield on Jan. 27, Twin Valley improved to 9-5.
• Forwards Avery Hiner and Lily Carignan provided the scoring punch as the Brattleboro girls won their first game of the season on Jan. 27 defeated winless Harwood/Northfield, 7-2.
Bears starting goalie Nellie Sterling was not in the lineup due to injury, so ninth-grader Dakota VonFeldt and junior Lakota Offenburger split the goaltending duties to get the win over the 0-13 Highlanders.
The victory over Harwood came after a 7-1 loss to Burr & Burton in Manchester on Jan. 24. But that six-goal margin of defeat was the closest game the Bears had played all season and perhaps was a harbinger of the win on Harwood's ice.
Sterling made 27 saves in the loss to Burr & Burton, and Gretchen Stromberg got the Bears' only goal against Burr & Burton in the second period, with eighth-grader Alex Day picking up the assist. The Bears are now 1-12 on the season.
• The Brattleboro boys improved to 5-5-2 with a 9-3 victory over Monadnock on Jan. 24.
Snow golf fundraiser returns to Scott Farm on Feb. 25
• On Sunday, Feb. 25, from noon to 3 p.m., The Landmark Trust USA (LTUSA) invites the public to its second annual "Snow Golf: Chip, Drive, & Putt for Preservation" event, which will once again be held at Scott Farm in Dummerston. An official part of Brattleboro's Winter Carnival, tickets are $35, and advance registration is suggested.
LTUSA is a nonprofit historic preservation organization that has beautifully restored Naulakha, the 1892 Dummerston home of author Rudyard Kipling, and four other southern Vermont properties, which it owns and operates as overnight vacation rentals. According to the U.S. Golf Association, Kipling invented snow golf at Naulakha following his introduction to the game by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame.
New this year, the course will be designed in partnership with the Brattleboro Country Club and feature six skills challenges - including Chipping Skeeball, Tic-Tac-Toe, and Blindfolded Pick-A-Club - as well as one hole and a bonus "closest to the pin" shot. Players may register individually or as a team of four, and prizes will be awarded for best overall score, best score on each challenge, best dressed, and more.
All tickets include a free exclusive hard or sweet cider drink from the Scott Farm pop-up bar. Additional snacks and drinks will be provided as well. For more information and registration, visit landmarktrustusa.org/snow-golf. All proceeds from the event support LTUSA's historic preservation work.
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 3 of the winter/spring season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl on Jan. 18 saw High Rollers (16-4) have a 5-0 week to move into first place while Good Times (13-7) had a 0-5 week to slip back into second place. Stepping Stones II and Four Seasons (both 11-9) are tied for third, followed by Stayin' Alive (10-10), Hairiers (9-11), Four Pins (6-14), and Slow Movers (4-16).
Vicki Butynski had the women's high handicap game (262) and series (752), while Warren Corriveau Sr. had the men's high handicap game (255) and series (668). Harriers had the high team handicap game (896) and series (2,591).
Robert Rigby had the men's high scratch series (633) with games of 234 and 220. Corriveau had a 614 series with games of 237, 193, and 184. John Walker had a 593 series with a pair of 205 games and a 183 game, Duane Schillemat had a 552 series with games of 197 and 191, Gary Montgomery had a 547 series with a 208 game, Peter Deyo had a 546 series with a 201 game, and Jerry Dunham had a 186 game.
Butynski had the women's high scratch series (503) and game (194). She also had a 174 game. Other notable games included Nancy Dalzell (178) and Carol Gloski (176).
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.