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Wolves Can’t Handle Rockwood, Yellowjackets

  • Duncan Frazer, bottom left, and Dakota Page, bottom right, cheer on the Windsor girls basketball team at the close of the first half of their Vermont Principals Association Division III semifinal against Peoples Academy at the Barre Auditorium in Barre, Vt., Thursday, March 8, 2018. Windsor won. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Windsor girls basketball team celebrates their Vermont Principals Association Division III semifinal win over Peoples Academy at the Barre Auditorium in Barre, Vt., Thursday, March 8, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor's Olivia Rockwood, left, and Angelina Bigwood, right, fight to bring down a rebound against Peoples' Melaira Fogg during their VAP Division III semifinal at the Barre Auditorium in Barre, Vt., Thursday, March 8, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor's Alyssa Slocum, left, gets pressured by Peoples' Paige Pierce during their Vermont Principals Association Division III semifinal at the Barre Auditorium in Barre, Vt., Thursday, March 8, 2018. Windsor won. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor coach Bruce Mackay addresses his team during halftime of their VPA Division III semifinal against Peoples Academy at the Barre Auditorium in Barre, Vt., Thursday, March 8, 2018. Windsor won, 50-45. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, March 09, 2018

Barre, Vt. — The chant from the Windsor High student section came loud and clear midway through the third quarter: “Too much Rockwood!”

On a stormy night, that was the cold truth for the Peoples Academy girls basketball team. Olivia Rockwood scored a career-high 33 points to lift the No. 3 Yellowjackets over the seventh-ranked Wolves, 50-45, in Thursday’s VPA Division III semifinal at Barre Auditorium.

The crafty sophomore guard scored 22 points in the first half as Windsor clinched a rematch against rival Thetford in Saturday’s championship game. No. 4 Thetford — which rallied from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter against the Jacks in last year’s final — knocked off top-ranked Hazen in Tuesday’s early semi.

Rockwood hit from every area of the floor in the first half against Peoples as the Jacks (17-6) built a 12-point lead despite turnover problems and generally lacking the up-tempo edge that carried them during a quarterfinal win over Oxbow.

“I thought our energy was good, but our execution wasn’t great,” Windsor coach Bruce Mackay said. “Olivia had a nice touch going, and we needed it. We have a lot of young players on floor at one time, so we’re always trying to get others involved.”

Windsor led by single digits for most of the second half before a late comeback by Peoples (13-10), which had also rallied late to upset No. 2 BFA-Fairfax in the quarters. Forwards Beronica Tatro-Germain (team-high 16 points) and Lucy Kelley combined for 26 points and each had a pair of baskets in the fourth quarter as the Wolves drew closer.

Peoples got within four points on a floater by Kelley with 56.9 seconds left, but Rockwood clinched her career best with a pair of clutch free throws on the other end. Peoples — which held a 29-27 rebounding edge — missed a pair of putback attempts that would have made it a one-possession game again with fewer than 20 seconds remaining.

Both teams shot poorly from the free-throw line: Peoples 14-for-28, Windsor 9-of-20.

“We haven’t given up all year, so I’m not surprised we made it close,” Wolves coach Ben Arsenault said. “We did a better job finding the lane in the second half. (Missed free throws) hurt us, and we also missed a lot of bunny layups that would have made a difference.”

Rockwood dazzled early, exciting a crowd noticeably depleted in numbers thanks to Thursday’s continued snowfall.

She had a steal and fast-break layup on the game’s first possession, then swished a 3-pointer. Rockwood’s dribble-drive pull-up maneuver continually worked for converted jump shots, and she hit an NBA-range 3 to start the second quarter. Another steal and layup and it was 20-12 for Windsor, its largest lead.

“I could tell she was feeling it today on the bus,” captain Brooke McKeen said.

Freshman guard Adi Prior had six points and eight rebounds for the Jacks, including several key boards in the second half. Sophomore Angelina Bigwood had five points, the most important coming on a dish underneath from Rockwood that made it 47-40 with 1:30 to play.

Windsor is eager for its rematch with the Panthers, with whom it split a pair of regular season games.

“We need to get going a little better in transition against them than we did tonight,” Rockwood said.

Added Mackay: “It’s going to be a great game. I think the two best teams in Division III are in the final.”

Saturday’s tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.