On the Ball: Girls' Hoop Teams Win In First Round

GIRLS’ FIRST-ROUND HOOP GAMESForm, or as the guys on ESPN radio like to say, “the chalk,” prevailed on Wednesday night: the Middlebury, Otter Valley, Mount Abraham and Vergennes girls’ basketball teams all won their first-round Division II playoff games at home. Details on all, including a full write-up and photos from Mount Abe, will be in the Thursday paper. For MUHS, it was about as easy as expected, although Coach Cindy Atkins said the No. 5 Tigers weren’t their sharpest in their halfcourt offensive sets. Lyndon (14-6), the No. 4 seed is next on Friday night, giving them not a lot of time to work on the glitches. Still, she said the defensive intensity was there, and that may well be enough for the Tigers to reach Barre with a win on Friday. It doesn’t always work this way, but U-32 beat Lyndon at Lyndon, and Vergennes beat U-32 twice, and MUHS beat Vergennes twice. Has to mean something, right?One of those two VUHS wins over No. 9 U-32 came tonight, when the No. 8 Commodores took the lead for the first time late in the fourth quarter. Coach Billy Waller was most excited that four Commodores reached double figures for the first time this winter; it was also the first time junior guard Ali Provost didn’t lead VUHS in scoring all season, not that she was too far off the pace tonight, of course. The Commodores are getting better, but No. 1 Milton on Friday is a tall order. OV got past Woodstock by six, avoiding the fate of the school’s field hockey team at the hands of the upset-minded Wasps. “Woodstock always plays us tough,” said Coach Ray Counter tonight. No. 3 Fair Haven, owner of two decisive wins over OV this winter, is next on Saturday afternoon. No room for error there.As for Mount Abe, let’s just say the Eagles picked the right time to play their best game of the year. If they duplicate that effort at No. 2 Lamoille on Saturday, who knows? One thing I noticed during the game was better post play from the Eagle forwards. Coach Connie LaRose said afterward Erin Malzac, her daughter-in-law to be and former Eagle star from the 1990s, has been working with them recently to improve their moves in the paint. Looks like that’s paying off. I also posted earlier on Wednesday. That On the Ball included:• A link for what might be hard-to-come-by Saturday Panther men’s hoop tickets.• Discussions of the Tiger dance and gymnastic teams’ championship Saturdays, when both did well and the dancers won a title. There were also some curious decisions by officials at both meets, one of which might really have hurt the dancers’ chances at the overall championship, and another that denied a few male gymnasts a chance to participate without scoring. • Some quick comments on Tuesday’s MUHS hockey playoff games. Thursday’s paper will have in-person write-ups and photos on girls’ hockey, Mount Abe girls basketball, and dance; a picture and story for the gymnasts; and information on Middlebury College sports and all the games for the four local high schools. And Matt Dickerson had a lot of time to think while skiing through the woods near Blueberry Hill, and shares some of those thoughts on man and nature. Comments, questions, harsh criticism or lavish praise can be directed to [email protected].

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