The Brattleboro Union High School Bears Unified basketball team won the state championship on May 23 with a 41-38 victory over Lyndon Institute.
Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons
The Brattleboro Union High School Bears Unified basketball team won the state championship on May 23 with a 41-38 victory over Lyndon Institute.

Bears win Unified basketball state championship

-The Brattleboro Bears Unified basketball team pulled off an impressive feat last week, winning four games in seven days to complete an undefeated season and win the program's second state championship.

The Bears ran through a gauntlet of tough opponents in the playoffs, starting with a 47-40 win over Springfield on May 17 at the BUHS gym. With a couple of days to rest, Brattleboro then came away with home wins against Middlebury (43-38 on May 20) and Burr & Burton (41-30 on May 21) to win the Southern Division title.

That set up a showdown for the state championship against Lyndon Institute at Norwich University in Northfield on May 23.

Great team defense and the outstanding play of Austin Pinette keyed the previous three playoff wins, and it was more of the same against Lyndon as the Bears won, 41-38, to finish the season at 11-0 and give Brattleboro its first Unified basketball championship since 2017.

Pinette led the Bears with 29 points against Lyndon. "It feels pretty good. We haven't won in seven years, so it feels nice to give Bobby (Petrie), Tyler (Bolduc) and Ava (Ferencz) a championship for their last year in school," Pinette told WCAX-TV after the game. "They fought all season for this, they've worked their butts off, we've worked as a team all season."

The Bears' fast break offense, led by Pinette and Josh Starkey, piled up the points during the playoff run, and they combined with Jeffery White to provide solid interior defense.

At the same time, they made sure that everyone in the roster was involved in the games. Petrie, Bolduc, Ashley Cleveland, Darius Cansler-Cooper, Caden Russell, Alexx LaBounty, and Jaymeson Crochtiere all contributed throughout the season and the playoffs.

For many of these players, beating Burr & Burton in the Southern finals was particularly sweet, since it was that team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season.

Bears coach Tyler Boone has been a big part of growth of Unified sports at BUHS over the past decade. All through this season, Boone stressed togetherness and the need to keep everyone involved in every game.

"It took the whole team to win games this season," Boone said before the Middlebury game. "When everybody has a chance to contribute, everybody is happier and they all play better."

The result was not just a happy team, but a championship team - the first team to win a state title as BUHS Bears.


• Brattleboro is starting to get it together at just the right time of the season.

On May 21 in Bennington, the Bears hit a pair of grand slams to beat the Mount Anthony Patriots, 9-3. Jackson Emery hit the first grand slam in the fifth inning to snap a 1-1 tie. In the sixth inning, the Patriots chose to walk Emery to load the bases with two outs. The next batter, Jayke Glidden, made them pay with the Bears' second grand slam of the game. Glidden was the winning pitcher with 10 strikeouts in six-plus innings of work. Reliever Evan Wright got the final three outs in the seventh.

The Bears lost at Burr & Burton, 7-3, on May 24, but rebounded the next day in Townshend with a 15-3 win over Leland & Gray in five innings. Brattleboro took an early 4-1 lead as the Bears wore down Rebels starter Ryan Peloso, who threw 88 pitches over three innings.

While the Rebels scored a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning, Brattleboro exploded for nine runs in the fourth inning against relief pitcher Spencer Clausen to turn a tight 4-3 game into a 13-3 rout. Winning pitcher Eric Kurucz pitched four innings and kept the Rebels in check, with reliever Karson Elliott finishing up.

The 6-8 Bears finish the regular season with home games against Bellows Falls on May 29 and against Fair Haven on May 31. Along with a 10-4 loss to Woodstock on May 21 and an 11-2 win over Springfield on May 22, Leland & Gray entered the final week of the season with a 6-8 record. The Rebels finish the regular season this week against Stratton Mountain School and Twin Valley.

• Bellows Falls split their road games last week as the Terriers shut out Windsor, 7-0, on May 22, and lost to Otter Valley, 8-6, on May 25. Now 8-5, BF finishes the regular season this week against Brattleboro and Green Mountain.

• Twin Valley broke an 11-game losing streak with an 11-1 win over visiting Mount St. Joseph in a five-inning game shortened by the mercy rule. The Wildcats are 1-11 on the season.


• It was two days of agony and ecstasy for Brattleboro last week. On May 21 in Bennington, the Bears lost to Mount Anthony, 23-1. The following day in Manchester, Brattleboro won its first game of the season with a 14-11 victory over Burr & Burton.

• Bellows Falls shut out Woodstock, 22-0, on May 21, and lost to Otter Valley, 12-6, to fall to 9-5 and dropped down to the No. 3 ranking in Division III. The Terriers wrap up the regular season this week against Brattleboro and Springfield.

• Leland & Gray had an up-and-down week. On May 21 in Townshend, the Rebels lost to Springfield, 6-4, as the Rebels fell behind early and could not complete a late rally. Winning pitcher Brie Howe Lynch struck out nine batters and Abby Williams homered for the Cosmos.

The Rebels then won a 16-13 slugfest over the Proctor Phantoms on May 24 in Townshend. Rianna Dryden got the win in relief of starting pitcher Kristen Lowe, who lasted just one inning.

The next day, Poultney held off the visiting Rebels, 5-4. The Rebels' record now stands at 7-8.

• Twin Valley lost to Burr & Burton, 15-3, on May 20, and lost to Long Trail School, 24-10, in five innings in Whitingham on May 22 to fall to 1-10.


• The Brattleboro boys stayed undefeated last week with wins over Mount Anthony and Rutland.

On May 20 in Bennington, the Bears beat the Patriots, 5-2. Brattleboro's top three of Nate Kim, Thomas Hyde, and Malo Renault were singles winners, while Ben Berg and Leo Bodett and Eben Wagner and Elias Frazer-Olsen were doubles winners for the Bears.

On May 22, the Bears shut out Rutland, 7-0, at the BUHS courts. Kim, Hyde, Renault, Mark Richards, and Wagner were the singles winners, while Berg and Bodett and Jackson Pals and Frazer-Olsen were the doubles winners for the 12-0 Bears.

• The Brattleboro girls fell to 2-8 as the Bears lost to Mount Anthony, 6-1, on May 20 and were shut out by Rutland, 7-0, on May 22.

• The Bellows Falls girls improved to 2-7 as the Terriers were shut out by Rutland, 7-0, on May 20 and defeated Mount St. Joseph, 6-1 on May 25.


• After losses to Mount Anthony (16-3 on May 20), Burr & Burton (15-0 on May 22), and Hartford (10-2 on May 24), the Brattleboro girls ended the week with a 15-14 win over Keene on May 29 to improve their record to 4-9.

• The Brattleboro boys had a pair of home losses last week, first to Burr & Burton, 13-3, on May 21, and a defeat at the hands of Keene, New Hampshire, 10-8, on May 23, to fall to 2-11 on the season.

Against Keene, the Bears trailed 5-4 at halftime but were derailed in the second half by a series of penalties that allowed the Blackbirds to score four unanswered goals to take a 9-4 lead into the final quarter. The Bears scored three goals in the final five minutes to cut Keene's lead down to two goals but ran out of time.

Ultimate disc

• Mill River knocked off Leland & Gray, 15-5, on May 24. The Rebels are now 1-6.

• Brattleboro was off last week. The 3-2 Bears finish up the regular season with games against Burr & Burton on May 29 and Leland & Gray on May 31.

Senior bowling roundup

• Week 4 of the spring/summer season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl on May 23 saw first place Half Normal (17-3) have a 5-0 week, while Slo Movers (14-6) had another 4-1 week to hold on to second place. Three Musketeers and Split Happens (both 11-9) are tied for third, followed by Hi Rollers and Fab 4 (both 9-11), and Misguided, Stayin' Alive, and Spare Change (all 8-12).

Pat Bentrup had the women's high handicap game (250), and series (651). Fred Ashworth had the men's high handicap game (279) and Ronald Cargill had the high handicap series (738). Split Happens had the high team handicap game (914) and series (2,554).

Chuck Adams again had the men's high scratch series (655) with games of 233, 225, and 197. Fred Ashworth had a 577 series with a 229 game, Robert Rigby had a 561 series with games of 203 and 197, and Milt Sherman had a 559 series with a 195 game. John Walker had a 553 series with a 199 game, Warren Corriveau Sr. had a 532 series, Rich Westcott had a 509 series, and Ronald Cargill had a 500 series.

Nancy Dalzell again had the women's high scratch series (446), while Bentrup had the high scratch game (170). Sandy Ladd had a 165 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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