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This time, Tiger boys' basketball team makes plays in stretch vs. VUHS

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Posted on February 26, 2018 |
By Andy Kirkaldy



Boys hoop_2322 copy.jpg
MIDDLEBURY UNION HIGH School junior Parker Beatty, above, takes a shot over Commodore Zeke Palmer during the first half of a Thursday game in Vergennes. MUHS won, 64-55. Below left, senior Forward Casey Kimball powers his way to the hoop for two points. Bottom right, forward Skyeler Devlin, a Middlebury senior, takes the ball up against brothers Lance, left, and Luke Bergmans. Independent photos/John McCright

VERGENNES — Philosopher George Santayana once noted, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it,” a sentiment brought to life a bit more recently by the movie “Groundhog Day.”

But unlike Bill Murray’s weatherman in that movie the Middlebury Union High School basketball team did not need countless repetitions to learn from its mistakes this past Thursday at Vergennes.

Back on Jan. 30 at MUHS the Tigers took a 37-22 lead over VUHS early in the third period on a Cody Pomainville dunk and were dominating play. But they got careless with the ball and allowed the Commodores back in the game, and never fully regained their poise in a 57-55 loss.

On this past Thursday the Tigers once again controlled the action and took a 44-30 lead at 5:05 of the third, this time on a Pomainville three-pointer.

And the Commodores — sparked by back-to-back threes from sophomore Luke Bergmans, four points from senior Lance Bergmans, and a hoop, steal and assist from junior Ezekiel Palmer — answered with a 16-2 run that spanned the final four minutes of the third period and the first minute of the fourth.

The result was a 46-46 tie and Commodore momentum in the loud VUHS middle school gym, where the teams played during ongoing work to fix the water-damaged main gym.

This time, however, the Tigers responded to pull out a 64-55 victory.

On their next possession, senior center Skyeler Devlin (14 points, a team high) laid in a feed from senior guard JD Goettelmann to give the Tigers the lead for good. At 6:00 junior Parker Beatty (10 points) hit inside to make it 50-46.

VUHS senior guard Bailey Smith nailed a three at 4:20 to cut the lead to one. But Beatty drove for a hoop and at 3:30 sank two free throws to make it 54-49. Then Tiger junior Spencer Cadoret stole the ball and fed sophomore Tim Goettelmann for a layup at 3:20, and the lead was seven.

Two Lance Bergmans three throws at 3:05 cut the lead to 56-51, but 30 seconds later JD Goettelmann answered with a pair from the line to restore the seven-point edge. VUHS senior Ethan Sausville drove for two at 1:25 to make it 58-53, but sophomore Tyler Buxton and senior Bastian Phair each sank free throws, and the Tiger lead was a safe 62-43 with at 0:40.

Devlin, who led the Tigers to a 25-16 edge on the boards, said the Tigers were aware the game’s pattern was in danger of repeating itself.

“That was definitely in the back of my mind,” he said.

But this time the Tigers were prepared for the Commodores to make a run, Devlin said.

“The last game we were up at halftime and they caught us off-guard. They started running these screens and we went to zone, and they killed us. This game we decided to stay man in the second half and we just focused on controlling the ball, not turning the ball over, making the easy shots, making the easy plays, and I think that really helped us. Last game we got in our own heads and we rushed it. This game we slowed it down and made the right plays at the right time,” Devlin said.

Coach Kyle Lussier’s team had come up on the short side of a few tight games, but now has won three of four to improve to 6-12.

“I think we did our best job of maintaining our composure in tonight’s game,” Lussier said. “They did a really good job or learning from their past experiences in figuring out what it took to pull that one off.”

Balanced scoring was also a plus. Three other Tigers scored nine, Pomainville, JD Goettelmann and Phair, who is returning to the lineup from an injury. Six of Pomainville’s points came early in the third to key a 10-2 run that gave the Tigers their biggest lead at 14. Beatty and Phair helped Devlin control the boards, and Goettelmann made a highlight-reel behind-the-back move on the break.

“When we were on our good streaks offensively we were getting a lot of different people involved,” Lussier said. “It was pretty evident tonight that we have a bunch of different guys who can put the ball in the hole.”  

Lance Bergmans led VUHS with 19 points, senior forward Casey Kimball scored 10, and Luke Bergmans finished with nine. Coach Peter Quinn said rebounding was the critical difference in a game in which the Commodores shot well and took good care of the ball. He was hoping the Commodores would bounce back on Saturday vs. Missisquoi to improve to 5-13, and they did — see basketball wrap.

Both teams enjoyed the packed gym, with fans right on top of the court. Of course, Devlin and the Tigers ultimately enjoyed it more. 

“It was a lot of people and loud,” Devlin said. “I was a fun night and a fun game.”

Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]

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