Sports

Eagle, VUHS girls win in local rivalry games

VUHS JUNIOR FORWARD Tryphene Miguel bolts up the floor with the ball during Saturday’s game in Middlebury with Tigers Kassidy Brown, left, and Skyler Choiniere in pursuit. Independent photo/Steve James

ADDISON COUNTY — Mount Abraham defeated Vergennes, and the Commodores knocked off Middlebury as road teams prevailed in rivalry games to highlight recent local girls’ high school basketball action.

Elsewhere, the Tigers won a nailbiter, while Mount Abe, VUHS and Otter Valley all absorbed defeats. 

MT. ABE-VUHS

On Tuesday visiting Mount Abe used a fast start and a strong finish to subdue Vergennes, 42-24, a result that left both teams with 6-3 records. 

The Commodores opened in a 1-2-2 zone, and the Eagles carved it up in the first 3:13 with two threes by Abba Parker and one by Louisa Painter to take a 9-2 lead. 

VUHS Coach Billy Waller switched to player-to-player defense for the rest of the way, and it slowed the Eagles somewhat in the first period. But Painter added seven more points, and forward McKenzie Griner (she finished with 20 rebounds) helped the Eagles dominate the boards — they earned a 14-1 edge in the opening eight minutes as they took an 18-4 lead. VUHS managed only a drive by senior Kaelin Sullivan and a pullup jumper by sophomore Ava Francis in the quarter. 

TIGER SOPHOMORE SOLSTICE Binder goes on the attack against the defense of VUHS sophomore Ashtin Stearns during Saturday’s game in Middlebury.
Independent photo/Steve James

The Commodores found their footing on the boards in the second period, and their man defense did slow Mount Abe. But the Eagles still outscored them in the quarter, 10-5, to lead by 28-9 at the half. Five Eagles scored, including a three-point play from Griner. A transition hoop from sophomore leading scorer Ashtin Stearns, a Francis free throw, and two makes from the line by junior forward Tryphene Miguel after an offensive rebound summed up the VUHS offense.

Miguel gave the Commodores a lift to open the second half with four steals in four minutes, sound defense inside and assertive rebounding. And Sullivan sank a three and a free throw, Francis scored in the lane, and junior forward Kendra Jackson tossed in an old-school hook shot in the lane as VUHS went on an 8-1 run over the first six-and-a-half minutes to cut the lead to 29-17. 

Back-to-back drives by Parker and Hazel Guillmette restored order for Mount Abe, but a Miguel putback beat the buzzer, and at 33-19 the Commodores were at least within striking range entering the fourth quarter. And in the first minute Sullivan hit a free throw and fed sophomore Amelia Giroux for a hoop in the paint, and the lead was down 33-22 at 7:05.

Then the shots simply stopped falling for the Commodores, partly because of good defense from Mount Abe, but a few makeable looks also just rolled off the rim.

MUHS JUNIOR KASSIDY Brown hauls down a rebound during Saturday’s game in Middlebury as Commodore Kendra Jackson, left, and Tiger Isabel Quinn look on.
Independent photo/Steve James

And at the other end the Eagles began to execute, finding cutters for layups during a 9-0 run over the next five minutes. The surge started with a Painter free throw on a transition foul. Then Parker scored on a feed from senior Morgan Barnard, Griner converted an offensive board, Barnard added a layup on an assist from Painter, and Parker fed Griner for a layup to make it 42-22 with about three minutes to go. VUHS sophomore Faith McCallister hit a late jumper to create the final score. 

Painter and Griner scored 11 points apiece to lead the Eagles, and Parker finished with 10. Senior Piper Guillmette led with three assists, Painter added four steals, and senior forward Carley Cook chipped in five rebounds. Both Waller and Eagle Coach Koran Cousino cited Parker’s defensive work on Stearns. 

Sullivan’s seven points led VUHS. Next up were Francis (five) and Miguel (four).

Coach Cousino is still looking for 32 minutes of consistency from the Eagles, although she sees signs of progress, especially after a poor entire second half in their loss at Enosburg on Saturday. While crediting the Commodores for coming out stronger in the second half, she also said her team has tended to struggle after the break. 

“We are a notoriously bad third-quarter team,” she said. “We have been outscored in virtually every third quarter this season. So we’re working on that, for sure.”

On Tuesday, she said when the Eagles were sharp, they were really sharp, which she saw as a positive, “as long as we get more stretches of being sharp.” She was also happy with the Eagles’ man defense and rebounding, and the fact the Eagles were more often looking inside to their post players and cutters on offense.

Overall, Cousino is looking for a full-game effort.

COMMODORE SENIOR KAELIN Sullivan looks to make a play during Saturday’s game in Middlebury while Tiger freshman Isabel Quinn applies defensive pressure.
Independent photo/Steve James

“We have not strung together 32 minutes of what I would consider the best of what we have,” she said.

Waller was disappointed his team did not put its best foot forward from the start.

“We played better defense in the second half. We got some pressure, finally,” he said, adding, “Overall, we can’t come out lackadaisical like that.”

Waller credited the Eagles and Parker for removing Stearns from the equation: “I thought that was the key to the whole game.”

Still, the Commodores, who started four sophomores, have already won one more game than a year ago, using a running game and good shooting to fuel their attack.

“When we’re confident and can get out and go in transition, we’re fine,” Waller said. “We’ve got three or four players who can make (three-pointers).”

VUHS-MUHS

On Saturday the Commodores outlasted the host Tigers, 35-32, in a game marked by late drama. The Commodores took a 14-6 lead after the first quarter as both Stearns and Sullivan hit a pair of three-pointers, and still led by 21-13 at the half.

But the Tigers slowly chipped away at the lead after the break, and finally went up by a point late in the fourth quarter when Solstice Binder drove for a layup. 

TIGER SOLSTICE BINDER goes up high for a rebound hotly contested by Commodore Ava Francis on Saturday at MUHS, in a close game won by VUHS.
Independent photo/Steve James

But Stearns responded with a go-ahead three-pointer. The Commodores then drew an offensive foul on Binder that was her fifth, and they held on for the win, adding a free throw to create the final score. 

Stearns scored 16 points, Sullivan chipped in eight points, Francis added five, and Amelia Giroux chipped in four.

Binder finished with 17 points for MUHS, and forwards Kassidy Brown and Kaitlyn Brown each scored four. 

TIGERS

On Jan. 10 the Tigers picked up their second win of the winter in dramatic fashion, 46-44 in overtime over visiting Milton. Binder (19 points) and freshman Tenny Laroche (11) combined for 30 points as the Tigers overcame a 26-point outburst by Yellowjacket Marlie Bushey. 

The Tigers’ Tuesday home game vs. Missisquoi was postponed, leaving them with a 2-6 record. 

EAGLES

On Jan. 10 visiting Fair Haven remained unbeaten and picked up its second win this winter over Mount Abe, 54-30. Isabelle Cole (19 points) and Kate Hadwen (14 points) did most of the damage for the Slaters. 

Painter led the Eagles with 13 points.

On Saturday host Enosburg pulled away in the second half to defeat the Eagles, 57-46. Mount Abe led at the half, 25-24, but the Hornets swarmed the Eagles with a 22-9 third period. Lilly Robtoy (16 points) and Lisey Robtoy (15 points) sparked Enosburg. Barnard scored 13 points as the Eagles lost to a team other than Fair Haven for the first time. 

COMMODORES

On Jan. 10 visiting Missisquoi rode a huge second half to a 48-25 victory over the Commodores. The teams were virtually tied after three quarters, before the T-Birds took charge in the final period. Jaylynn Langlois scored 14 points to lead MVU. 

Stearns scored nine as VUHS fell to 5-2 heading into Saturday’s showdown with the Tigers. 

OTTERS

On Saturday night visiting Rutland topped the Otters, 71-8. Anna Moser scored 31 to pace RHS. Breanna Bovey scored all eight OV points.

On Monday Burr and Burton took a 15-4 first-quarter lead over OV on the way to a 49-26 victory. Josie Powers led the 4-6 Bulldogs with 13 points.

Bovey paced OV with seven points. The 1-7 Otters were set to host Windsor on Wednesday. 

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