Slaters run past Otter boys’ hoop in D-II first round
BRANDON — Signs pointed to a close game on Tuesday when No. 9 Fair Haven visited No. 8 Otter Valley Union High School for a boys’ Division II basketball quarterfinal.
Both teams entered with 11-9 records. The Otters had twice defeated the Slaters this season and had most of a deafening standing-room-only home crowd behind them.
Fair Haven was the defending champion and had recently welcomed all-star senior Cam Coloutti back in the lineup after he left the team following a midseason dustup with longtime Coach Bob Prenevost.
FAIR HAVEN PLAYED strong defense vs. Otter Valley during a D-II quarterfinal in Brandon Tuesday night. Here Otter guard Delshon Norwood tries to dribble through the Slater defense.
Independent photo/Steve James
Unfortunately for an OV team enjoying a third straight solid season, the signs might as well have read, “Wrong Way: Do Not Enter.”
The Slaters outscored the Otters, 18-4, in the first quarter, and it didn’t get any better from there for OV as Fair Haven cruised to a 48-14 victory.
The Otters managed only five baskets all game, missed a half-dozen layups, sank only three of 10 free throws, and were outrebounded, 34-21.
OV Coach Greg Hughes said it was just one of those nights for a team that always plays hard.
“We couldn’t get anything to fall. I thought we got some good shots early from one of our better shooters, and layups, foul shots. We really didn’t have much in our tank tonight, and they definitely did. They came out with a lot of confidence, and they should. They’re the returning champs. This was a really tough 8-9 matchup. Either one of us, if we played a little better throughout the season, could have had a much higher seed,” Hughes said. “But they definitely deserved that win tonight.”
Those early shots came from senior Tyler Rowe, who hit one of them to tie the score at 2-2 in the second minute. But Rowe, a capable long-range shooter, could not find the range after that hoop. With the bigger Slaters patrolling the paint, OV’s lack of outside shooting allowed the Slaters to help out Coloutti, who was guarding Otter standout Dylan Mackie. The Otter attack never found any rhythm.
But Slater senior Parker Morse did. Morse drained four first-quarter threes, including three straight to cap the period, to help the Slaters to that 18-4 lead. He finished with 14 points.
OV played better defense in the second, but Coloutti (15 points overall) scored five points and set up Joey Gannon inside as the lead grew to 27-9 at the half. Gannon scored 10 and helped the Slaters dominate the boards. Mackie did hit a three and Otter senior Patrick McKeighan drove for a hoop in the period for OV.
OV fans took some hope in the fact that their team shrugged off a 25-7 deficit in a regular-season overtime win over Fair Haven, but a repeat was not in the cards. The Otters managed only a jumper by senior Kam Strickland in the third as the lead grew to 38-11. Coloutti scored seven in the period.
OV GUARD DYLAN Mackie drives between Slater standout Cam Coloutti (14) and Parker Morse (21) in the second half of the Otters’ home loss to Fair Haven on Tuesday. Mackie scored eight points.
Independent photo/Steve James
Mackie hit three free throws in the fourth to finish the game with eight points.
Many of the team’s seniors — Mackie, McKeighan, Strickland, Kollin Bissette, Rowe, Del Norwood, Nate Hudson, Jack Adams and Marcus McCullough — have been part of the program for three years, during which the Otters posted three straight winning seasons and reached the D-II semifinals a year ago.
“It’s going to take a lot of convincing on my part to get their heads back up. They knew they were much better than they showed tonight,” Hughes said. “Hopefully they set the tone and get more guys to work hard for the future.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
MIDDLEBURY — Bernard D. Kimball, 76, passed away in Bennington Hospital on Jan. 10, 2023. … (read more)
The Fresh Air Fund, initiated in 1877 to give kids from New York City the opportunity to e … (read more)