Wildcats Pull Away In Playoff Opener

Langdon, n.h. — Among the spectators at last night’s Vermont Division III girls basketball play-in game was White Mountains coach Gary Jenness, who might have headed back to Whitefield, N.H., with a feeling of concern after he saw his first-round opponent, Fall Mountain, down Newport in impressive fashion, 60-32.

White Mountains drew a bye by finishing fourth in the division with a snappy 15-3 record, but was 3-3 over its last six games. Meanwhile, 13th-seeded Fall Mountain (12-7) has won seven of eight, losing only to top-seeded Conant (17-1) in the final regular-season game.

Newport couldn’t have found a worse time to play the Wildcats, as coach Dave Muzzey found out the morning of the game that his top scorer, Jen Kidder, had a temperature of 102 and would be unable to play.

“We’d been prepping all week, figuring we would have her in the lineup,” Muzzey said.

When the teams met during the regular season, Fall Mountain was a convincing winner at home, 53-24, but earned a closer win over Newport, 67-58 in the rematch, giving the 20th-seeded Tigers (5-14) some hope. But those hopes were quickly dashed when the Wildcats used a huge height advantage to made 10 put-back baskets in the middle two periods to grab a 56-26 lead after three quarters.

“They simply out-manned us,” Muzzey said. “We did the best we could. We were not very deep tonight, and the pace was such that we had a hard time staying rested.”

While Muzzey realized that his team had a distinct height disadvantage and surrendered several second-chance baskets, he felt the Tigers could have improved on their rebounding.

“I know you can’t teach height,” he said, “but we could have boxed out better.”

Fall Mountain’s Morgan Ferland, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, started attracting plenty of attention as a freshman last season. Last night, she had 13 points and 10 rebounds, but she dished out two passes early in the first quarter that drew some “oohs” from the crowd. She first found, Evy Georgiadis for an easy bucket, and moments later, fed Bailey Roberts for an easy 2-pointer.

“The sky’s the limit for her,”first-year Fall Mountain coach Jon “Boomer” Aumaud said. “She’s capable of doing wonderful things.”

Fall Mountain has seven players 5-10 or taller, and the Wildcats shot the ball well from inside and outside.

“We like to think we’re peaking at the right time, because we got that teamwork thing going,” Aumaud said. “We talk about teammwork all the time.”

Beth Aumaud, the coach’s daughter, had a trio of 3-pointers in the first half.

Newport hung with Fall Mountain through the first eight minutes, trailing just 14-8 after one quarter, but the Wildcats put the game away in the second and led 42-18 at the half.

White Mountains greets Fall Mountain tomorrow night.