VUHS girls’ basketball rallies, nips Yellowjackets

VERGENNES — The Vergennes Union High School girls’ basketball team saved its best for last on Monday, hitting visiting Milton with a 13-1 fourth-quarter run to pull out a 49-44 victory.
The Commodores trailed by 43-36 after the Yellowjackets opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run of their own.
But the Commodores finally clamped down on clever Yellowjacket post player Cassidy Button the rest of way; forced six Milton turnovers in the period, including a steal and a layup from senior guard Ciara McClay to spark the surge; got five points in the paint from sophomore Kate Gosliga; and McClay and classmate Emily Gosliga each nailed two free throws in the final 30 seconds.
Emily Gosliga’s nothing-but-net pair came at 0:30 and gave the Commodores a 47-44 lead, their biggest since halftime.
“I just knew I needed to make them. So I just calmed down and went through my motion like I do in practice,” she said.
McClay followed with another steal and duplicated her teammates’ feat at 0:07, and with a five-point lead the game was won — the Commodores allowed Milton to make an uncontested layup as time ran out for a 49-46 final.
As usual, Coach Billy Waller said all of his Commodores contributed as they evened their record at 8-8.
He noted in the team’s strong performance the Friday before against 14-2 Mount Abraham — a 47-41 loss — only six Eagles played, while Milton used only a couple of subs on Monday.
“It takes our whole group,” Waller said. “Person for person we have a tough time matching up with other teams’ best players. But collectively we hope that we eventually wear you down a little bit.”
Emily Gosliga said playing the Eagles tough gave the Commodores confidence coming into Monday’s contest against the 8-9 Yellowjackets, who had defeated VUHS earlier this season.
“They’ve been blowing out other teams, so we knew we could play with anyone in our league,” Gosliga said of Mount Abe.
But it took a while for it to happen vs. Milton. The first period on Monday ended with VUHS up by just 5-3. The Commodores committed just 10 turnovers, but four came in the first quarter as they tried to force the ball into the post against a tight Milton zone. And Milton was at that point trying to run its offense through Button at the top of the key, and VUHS was defending it well.
Buckets by Emma Bryant inside, a Kate Gosliga free throw and a short Emily Gosliga jumper made it 5-0 at 1:20, and Milton’s Mallorie Chalmers hit a transition three in the final minute to put her team on the board.
Things opened up the second quarter, and VUHS led at the half, 22-18. Early on Amber Krumrie set the tone against the Milton zone by draining a three from the top of the key. McClay also sank a pair of threes in the period, Emily Rooney and Felicia Poirier found room to attack the basket for buckets, Kate Gosliga hit in the post, and Brianna VanderWey converted a putback.
COMMODORE EMILY ROONEY tussles with Milton’s Mallorie Chalmers while VUHS teammate Felicia Poirier watches during the second quarter of Monday’s home victory in Vergennes.
Independent photo/Steve James
Waller said the perimeter game opened things up for VUHS.
“Milton likes to play that 1-3-1, and they like to compact it. And it takes away those passing angles, and it takes away the angles to get it inside, too. And once we made a couple, the inside became a little more available,” he said.
Milton fought back in the third as Button (18 points) moved into the post and put up seven points, and Morgan Bushey scored seven from the outside as the Yellowjackets took a 37-36 lead. VUHS continued to be productive with two threes from Emily Gosliga and one from McClay, and two post moves from Kate Gosliga.
Emily Gosliga said of the perimeter shooting the Commodores just started taking what the defense was giving them.  
“We had to start making some shots from the outside, but it really wasn’t something we talked about. We just started moving the ball around, and then they just started going in,” she said.
VERGENNES CENTER BRIANNA VanderWey turns to shoot early in the Commodores’ home win over Milton on Monday.
Independent photo/Steve James
And with that threat established and the defense clamping down, the Commodores were able to go inside repeatedly in the fourth. After McClay’s layup at 4:05, Kate Gosliga converted in the post on consecutive trips, Poirier sliced through the zone from the foul line for two, and Gosliga hit a free throw after being fouled inside at 1:01 to make it 45-44. The lead belonged to the Commodores for good.
McClay finished with 13 points and five boards, Kate Gosliga scored 13 and blocked four shots, Emily Gosliga chipped in 10 points, and VanderWey finished with five rebounds.
The Commodores are in ninth place in Division II, and could take over eighth with a win at Colchester, a team they have defeated this winter, in a game scheduled on Wednesday after the deadline for this edition.
“The way it’s bunched in the middle and at the top, we’re still striving to get a home game,” Waller said. “Two weeks ago that looked like that was kind of an impossibility. Then you win a couple games, and all of a sudden you’re back in it.”
Emily Gosliga said the Commodores are looking forward to their final four games.
“We’re ready to play. We’re ready to keep going,” she said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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