Local athletes excelled in 2017

Editor’s note: In this past Thursday’s edition sports writer Andy Kirkaldy cataloged, month-by-month, news in the local sports world in 2017. Here he takes a closer look at some of the year’s top athletes and most enjoyable games (from a spectator’s point of view).ADDISON COUNTY — Many local high school athletes enjoyed exceptional years in 2017.
Of course, there were the Independent Players of the Year:
•  In boys’ basketball, now-graduated Adam Gill, who reached the 1,000-point plateau for Vergennes.
•  In girls’ basketball, Keagan Dunbar, a Middlebury junior who also scored her 1,000th point and excelled on defense for the Tiger girls’ lacrosse team.
•  In softball, now-graduated Payton Buxton, who recorded her 500th strikeout in her four-year Middlebury career and also starred for the Tiger girls’ hoop team.
•  In baseball, now-graduated Derek Aines, whose pitching and hitting helped Otter Valley win the Division II title and also led the OV boys’ hoop team in scoring.   
•  In field hockey, senior Emily Aldrich, whose work at midfield and defense helped lead Mount Abraham to a D-II semifinal.
•  In boys’ soccer, senior goalie Santiago Fernandez, who backboned a Middlebury side that earned the No. 5 seed in D-I.
•  In girls’ soccer, senior center midfielder Casey Ober, whose play at central midfield helped the Eagles obtain the No. 4 seed in D-II.
All are among the area’s top athletes, but others can make equally strong cases, including:
•  Mount Abe senior Lydia Pitts added another half-dozen indoor and outdoor track and field titles to her trophy case and scored 11 goals for the Eagle girls’ soccer team.
•  Mount Abe senior Emma Carter led the Eagle girls’ hoop team in scoring and rebounding (again), scored her 1,000th point, earned a basketball scholarship to NCAA Division II school Franklin Pierce, and racked up seven goals and seven assists for the soccer team.
•  Tiger senior lineman Jack Deppman excelled on both sides of the ball for the football team, as did senior fullback and nose guard Tyler Hotte and quarterback and safety Cody Pomainville, who also played well for the hoop team.
•  OV senior Gabriela Poalino is an all-star as goalie for the girls’ soccer team, a post player for the basketball team, and a third baseman for the softball team.
•  Tiger senior Andi Boe led the Tiger girls’ hockey, lacrosse and soccer teams in scoring, all while playing tough defense and sharing the ball or puck selflessly.
•  Tiger senior Helen Anderson displayed grit and hustle while piling up points for the girls’ hockey and soccer teams.
•  Now-graduated VUHS wrestler Brandon Cousino was unbeaten in Vermont for the second straight season at 182 pounds, set a new school record for career wins as he won his second straight state title, raised money for charity on a per-win basis, and placed at the New England tournament. 

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