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MUHS boys’ basketball team wins tight battle with VUHS

MIDDLEBURY —  On Friday at Middlebury Union High School saw two boys’ basketball teams, the host Tigers and visiting Vergennes, with a combined seven wins battled hard to finish their regular seasons on a high note.
And battle they did. Both rallied from deficits, and the fourth quarter saw five lead changes and six ties before the Tigers eked out a 73-70 win to finish at 5-15.
Senior forward Trey Kaufmann, who scored 10 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and helped MUHS outrebound VUHS in the second half by 21-14, said the 3-17 Commodores made the Tigers earn the win.
“We were down early. They were down late, and they were always in it,” Kaufmann said. “Credit to both teams. We all played really well.”
VUHS took a for a 21-14 lead after one period. Ball movement sparked VUHS — five Commodores scored in the quarter, including senior Dylan Bradford, who tossed in 10 of his game-high 26 points in the period. A 28-foot three-pointer at the buzzer by junior guard Andre Trudeau helped the Tigers stay in range.
Two Bradford hoops to open the second pushed the VUHS lead to 15. MUHS answered with an 11-4 run, with four points from Kaufmann and five from junior Cody Pomainville (13 total), and it was 29-22. VUHS led after seven at the half (34-27) as senior leading scorer Adam Gill (20) points heated up, but the big lead was gone.
MUHS Coach Kyle Lussier said the Tigers began to move the ball better after playing too much one-on-one early on.
“Once we can start reining ourselves back within our offensive structure, we seem to be putting points on the board,” Lussier said.
VUHS Coach Peter Quinn said his team could have done more to slow MUHS.
“We gave up 48 points in the second half. That to me is the story of the game,” he said. “Part of it was boxing out, and part of it was we didn’t play good D.”
The Tigers opened the second half on an 18-4 run to take a 45-38 lead. Junior guard J.D. Goettelmann (17 of his 20 in the second half) scored eight in the surge. But VUHS countered with an 8-2 run — when Gill went coast to coast at the buzzer it was 47-46, MUHS, after three.
Quinn praised VUHS for hanging tough: “We did play with heart. We made some tough shots.”
In the fourth for VUHS, Gill, Bradford and junior forward Lance Bergmans (eight points) all made shots or free throws that either tied the score or gave the Commodores the lead. At 2:20 a Bradford jumper forged the final tie at 63-63.
For MUHS, juniors Bastiaan Phair and Skyeler Devlin, Kaufmann, Pomainville and Goettelmann all scored key points. Kaufmann’s three-point play inside at 2:01 broke the final tie, and after two Gill free throws Kaufman sank a free throw to make it 67-65 at 1:31. A Goettelmann three and then a Kaufmann move in the post pushed the Tiger lead to 72-65 at 0:53.
VUHS stayed alive when Goettelmann missed four straight free throws while VUHS junior Casey Kimball (10 points) nailed a three and Bradford sank two free throws. But Goettelmann stole ball back after his second trip to the line, after which Kauffman hit a free throw at 0:13 to make it 73-70. Devlin then rebounded a VUHS missed three to clinch the win.
VUHS will be the No. 16 seed in Division II and play No. 1 Mill River. VUHS almost upset MRU this season.
The Tigers, who were playing without injured starter Pierson Beatty, will be No. 16 in D-I and face No. 1 Champlain Valley. Regardless of that result, they will remember going 5-5 in their final 10 games and enjoying the last night in their home gym.
 “To get this win shows how much we’ve improved, and our tenacity as a team,” Kaufmann said.

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