On the Ball: D-II Hoop Seeds; Tough Road for VUHS

D-II Hoop Seeds Out; Tough Draw for VUHSThe VPA moved quickly today, and the Division II boys’ basketball pairings were out by mid-morning. Vergennes, Otter Valley and Mount Abraham will all play on Tuesday at 7 p.m., the Commodores at home, and the Otters and the Eagles on the road. Fair Haven (17-3) earned the top seed, but some observers think the Marble Valley League wasn’t as tough as usual this winter, and that the top Capital Division teams are stronger: Harwood, at 17-3 the No. 2 seed, and U-32, at 16-4 the No. 3 seed. After those top three, there’s a big drop-off to No. 4 Missisquoi (13-7). And because the 12-8 Vergennes boys earned the No. 7 seed, they will probably have to defeat both Harwood in a quarterfinal and U-32 in a semifinal just to make it to the final. VUHS did not play U-32, but lost to Harwood at home, 61-41. And in Tuesday’s first round VUHS drew defending champion Springfield (10-10), which upset the Commodores in the 2009 final. The Cosmos won six of their final 10 games, with two of those losses against D-I competition. Guard Brandon Boyle, who sparkled vs. VUHS in the final last winter, is back and playing well. The teams did not meet this year. Coach Peter Quinn’s Commodores are still fully capable of making a run deep into the tournament. But if the Commodores win the title this year, they’ll do it the old-fashioned way — they’ll earn it. OV won two of its final three to finish 6-14 and earn the No. 14 seed. That means a date on the road with No. 3 U-32, a challenging assignment to say the least. The teams did not meet this winter. If the Otters pull off the upset, they would probably face No. 6 Montpelier (13-7) in a 2 p.m. Saturday quarterfinal. The teams have not met this season. Finally, Mount Abe (5-14) drew the No. 15 seed and another challenging trip — to No. 2 Harwood on Tuesday. Again, there is no track record for these teams this winter. If the Eagles surprise the Highlanders, they would travel to meet the winner of the VUHS-Springfield game on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Eagles lost decisively to both those teams this winter. If any of the teams make it through to the semifinal round, they are all in the same bracket and would play at 8:15 p.m. next Wednesday at the Aud in Barre. Best of luck to all. Trent Campbell will be taking photos and I will be taking notes at the Commodore Thomas MacDonough Gymnasium on Tuesday night. Earplugs optional, but recommended. An article will follow on Thursday, plus results from the Middlebury girls’ hockey semifinal and more.For those who missed it, the Sunday On the Ball offered some comments from Middlebury College men’s basketball captain Tim Edwards after the Panthers’ dramatic win on Saturday. The article on the game in Monday’s print edition describes how the Panthers rallied to win down the stretch and how Trinity’s savvy game plan gave the visitors the lead, and offered more from Edwards and Coach Jeff Brown. Comments, questions or criticism may be directed to [email protected].

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