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Unbeaten Solons outlast VUHS

VERGENNES — The Vergennes Union High School girls’ basketball team gave undefeated Montpelier a battle on Monday, but the visiting Solons pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 48-34 win.
The 6-0 Solons used stingy man-to-man defense and solid ball movement to lead most of the way against the 1-5 Commodores.
VUHS also played well in its halfcourt-man defense, and when junior guard Ali Provost hit three straight treys in the second quarter, the Commodores took the lead.
Unfortunately, VUHS could not generate any offensive consistency. Provost scored 22 points, but junior guard Alexa Higbee’s five was the Commodores’ next highest total.
After the game, VUHS Coach Billy Waller said the talented Solons had a lot to do with the Commodores’ struggles on the attack.
“We had trouble running a set offense. They really jumped the passing lanes,” he said.
But Waller also said that VUHS needs more balance on offense. Provost has reached double figures in every game, and others have had strong efforts, but not consistently. Waller said he keeps encouraging the Commodores to have confidence in their shooting.
“We need a couple kids to step up. The kids are trying hard, but it’s been a struggle. The kids are really hard on themselves if the first one doesn’t go down,” he said. “We don’t want to worry about whether or not we’re missing shots. Just take the next one.”
On Monday, VUHS took a 2-0 lead when senior forward Kathleen Van Wyck grabbed one of her team-high eight rebounds and laid it back in. But the Commodores misfired despite getting some good looks and went scoreless for seven minutes while the Solons began to find the range. Three hoops by Sarah Lanpher keyed an 11-0 Solon run that was finally broken when Provost stole the ball and scored as the quarter ended to make it 11-4.
Layups by Tabby Danyow (four points) and Higbee cut the lead to 13-8 at 6:00 of the second, and then Provost heated up. She drove for two points and hit three treys in the next 2:40 as VUHS went on top, 19-17. Two offensive rebounding fouls by VUHS led to three Solon free throws, and then Jessica Sweeney (11 points) stole the ball and scored to make it 22-19 in favor of the visitors. A late Provost hoop made it 22-21 at the half.
In the third quarter, physical defense by Montpelier’s Sweeney and Caroline Dellipriscolli helped keep Provost in check, and VUHS managed only a Van Wyck free throw and one Provost jumper. Meanwhile, Solon center Danielle Baroudi (16 points) asserted herself for six points inside, and Montpelier led after three, 32-24.
Higbee and Provost attacked the basket to create a 5-2 run in the first two minutes of the fourth, and it was 34-29. Waller had been reluctant to press up until that point given the Solons’ ballhandling ability, but trailing that late in the game felt he had to try it. The Solons then took advantage down the stretch for six free throws and three fast-break hoops to pull away.
Among the encouraging signs for VUHS was their 37-36 edge on the boards; Waller said it was the first game his team had outrebounded a foe. Forward Hannah Curler had five rebounds and two blocks, and Higbee added four board and four assists. Provost and forward Chelsea Grant led VUHS with four steals apiece, and guard Margy Kerschner keyed the defense before fouling out.
“I thought our defense was good,” Waller said.
Waller said the Commodores’ record has yet to reflect it, but he sees improvement.
“Every player that played last year is better,” he said. “And the new players are coming along.”

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