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Yellowjackets Get Their Vengeance

  • Windsor's girls basketball team celebrates their Division III state championship win over Thetford in the halfcourt circle at the Barre Auditorium in Barre, Vt., on March 10, 2018. Windsor's 51-34 win was a rematch of last year's championship game. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor's Olivia Rockwood dribbles the ball behind her back while Thetford's Lily MacVeagh defends in the third quarter of the Division III state championship game in Barre, Vt., on March 10, 2018. Windsor won, 51-34. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor's Brooke McKeen pulls the ball in under the defense of Thetford's Kate Vaughan in the second quarter of the Division III state championship game in Barre, Vt., on March 10, 2018. Windsor won, 51-34. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • As Thetford cuts into their lead, Windsor head coach Bruce Mackay huddles up with his team late in the game to offer encouragement in the Division III state championship game in Barre, Vt., on March 10, 2018. Windsor won, 51-34. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor sophomore sensation Olivia Rockwood cuts a piece of the net with the rest of her teammates after they defeated Thetford 51-34 to win the Division III state championship in Barre, Vt., on March 10, 2018. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com



Valley News Correspondent
Sunday, March 11, 2018

Barre, Vt. — When Olivia Rockwood sank a deep turnaround floater off the glass at the first-half buzzer in Saturday’s VPA Division III girls basketball championship game at Barre Auditorium, it pushed Windsor’s lead to a commanding 18 points at intermission.

The one-handed heave, which looked like something from a game of H-O-R-S-E, was also a microcosm of the evening for the Yellowjackets — everything seemed to go their way in a 51-34 victory over defending state champion Thetford.

Rockwood dominated the rematch of last year’s final, finishing with 29 points including three 3-pointeers.

The Yellowjacket standout offered her take on the shot of the game, which developed from a loose ball she picked up just inside the arc.

“I didn’t really shoot it,” Rockwood said. “I kind of just picked it up and threw it, I guess. It looked on, but I thought it would go hard off the backboard, but I guess it was just right.”

Saturday’s nightcap at the Aud was the matchup both teams anticipated after last year’s showdown, which Thetford won, 53-52, in come-from-behind fashion. The loss served as motivational fuel for the Jacks, who gained a measure of revenge with an early season victory at Thetford’s Vaughan Gymnasium nearly two weeks before falling to the Panthers in Windsor.

The championship tilt began as expected: fast-paced, intense and loud. Third-seeded Windsor (18-6) played smothering defense and kept No. 4 Thetford’s attack out of synch all evening.

The Jacks were on from downtown, with four different players connecting on 3-pointers. Rockwood, Evelyn Page, Alyssa Slocum and Adi Prior all hit from deep during the first half, while Thetford (17-7) connected only once from 3-point land and not until Grace Davis hit from the top of the key to make it 36-25 midway through the third period.

TA trailed, 40-30, after three quarters and was never able to trim its deficit back into single digits.

Rockwood, a sophomore who averages more than 20 points per game, was coming off a career-high 33 points in a semifinal win over Peoples. She started alongside a junior, a fellow sophomore and two freshmen. The older and more experienced defending champs, by contrast, started three seniors, a junior and a sophomore.

Davis, a sophomore, led TA with nine points, and senior inside player Danielle Robinson chipped in eight. Robinson, the Panthers’ leading scorer with 11 points per game, came off the bench for the second straight game due to an ankle injury that wasn’t fully recovered.

Saturday represented Windsor’s chance to gain redemption after the pain of last year’s disappointing defeat, and the Jacks took full advantage of the situation. The successful culmination of the season was in contrast to the way the campaign began.

“When we were 3-5, a lot of people said we were dead,” Windsor coach Bruce Mackay said. “We won 17 out of the last 18 games, and here we are.”

Before last year, Windsor’s last championship appearances yielded back-to-back titles in 2010-11 and before that, a runner-up finish in ’09.

Thetford, which was outscored 22-6 in Saturday’s second quarter, played in its fifth consecutive final, winning it all in 2014 and ’17.

“We didn’t play as well as we did Thursday night,” Thetford coach Eric Ward said in regard to his team’s upset of top-ranked Hazen in the semifinals. “When we miss shots in this type of game, you think about it more than you do if you’re playing a game in January.”

Though clearly disappointed by Saturday’s result, Ward was already looking toward the future.

“I’m watching the game and I’m thinking about next year,” he said. “OK, we’re not going to get this game tonight, but we’ve got some sophomores that are going to be playing, and we’ll get some kids from Chelsea, we’re going to be OK. So I’m disappointed we lost, but we had a great season.”