MUHS girls’ hoop falls in first round
MIDDLEBURY — Youth was served this winter, as a Middlebury Union High School girls’ basketball team without a senior on its roster put together the program’s best campaign since 2018.
The Tigers finished the regular season at 4-4, played with pace and spirit, improved at both ends of the court, and earned the No. 7 seed in the Division II playoffs.
But on Tuesday they faced a No. 10 seed, Burr & Burton, that started four seniors and came in with a misleading 3-5 record. Two of the Bulldogs’ losses came to undefeated teams and two more to 7-2 D-I teams.
The Tigers led after 12 minutes, but BBA’s experience, a key change in the Bulldogs’ defensive tactics, and maybe a touch of nerves combined to get the better of the Tigers as the visitors pulled away in the second and third periods to win, 57-37.
Tactically, the game shifted after Tiger sophomore guard Cady Pitner sliced through BBA’s man-to-man defense for a lay-up to put MUHS on top, 17-16.
It was the game’s sixth lead change, and it would be the next to last. BBA called for time and switched into a smothering 1-2-2 zone, mixed in with full-court pressure, and the air went out of the Tiger attack.
Between then and the end of the third period, the Tigers scored just four points: another Pitner layup assisted by sophomore forward Ele Sellers, and a putback by junior forward Hannah Turner at 2:10 of the third quarter.
BBA led at the half, 26-19, as guards Nevaeh Camp on drives and Laurel Baker from the perimeter heated up. And in the third quarter the Bulldogs outscored the Tigers, 15-2, as senior forward Carol Herbert inside, Camp slashing, and Baker inside and out scored all the BBA points.
MUHS kept battling and finally found offensive rhythm in a 16-16 fourth period. Sellers and junior guard Ivy Doran combined for nine of those points, and junior Sophie Larocque nailed a three.
Herbert and Camp paced the Bulldogs with 15 points apiece, and Baker scored 12.
Doran, Pitner, Sellers and Turner each scored eight for the Tigers. Doran and Turner led the way on the boards with eight apiece, and Pitner added six as the Tigers held their own on the glass. Doran contributed three assists, adding three steals, and Pitner led MUHS with four steals.
First-year MUHS Girls’ Coach Chris Altemose credited BBA for its toughness, experience and athleticism, especially defensively, in postgame comments that often focused on the Tigers’ future.
“They made things hard for us,” he said. “That credit goes to them. But for us that’s something we have to learn from in the long run. These experiences, as hard as they are in the moment, hopefully establish what we need to do to get better.”
Altemose also acknowledged the Tigers might have been feeling the pressure of going into a playoff game for the first time as favorites, another issue he expects they will overcome.
“Everything we’re doing is part of their growth. They haven’t had this experience,” he said. “The words I use are ‘relaxed confidence.’ We have to get to that level.”
Altemose also expects they will work to improve their ability to attack zones and hit outside shots. But mostly he wants the Tigers to remember the pluses, a central part of his post-game message.
“What I just wrapped up with them in there was that everything this season is viewed as part of the growth process,” Altemose said. “Everything is about, ‘let’s get our foundation.’ It was a short, intense, crazy season, and we had a lot of successes, and a lot of positives.”
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