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Wasps’ Season Ends in Overtime

Woodstock — There were stretches during last night’s Vermont Division II playoff game when the No. 9 Fair Haven boys basketball team played more like a No. 16 seed. But when everything was on the line, the Slaters played like champions in a 58-53 overtime victory over No. 8 Woodstock.

“How many times did we try to give it away? We had unforced errors and we didn’t guard anyone. But they dug. They dug in and found a way to win,” Fair Haven coach Bob Prenevost said.

Woodstock’s brilliant point guard, Doug Avellino, refused to let his team lose in regulation time. He nailed a very long 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining to send it to overtime at 44-44.

But Jesse Dodge made a 3-point field goal for the first points of the overtime stanza and the Slaters stayed in front from there.

“It was a great season for our boys,” Woodstock coach Jeff Thomas said. “They played with a lot of heart all season long.”

It looked as though the Slaters were in command when 6-foot-5 Scott Beljavskis rebounded his own shot and put it through to give then a 52-45 lead. But Avellino canned another 3 — he had four of them — and Connor Fegard connected on a jumper in the lane to pull the Wasps within two, 52-50, with 41 seconds remaining.

The Wasps had to foul. Dakota Euber made a free throw and Andrew Reid made four of them.

But the Wasps (11-10) were not going away. Fegard made a 3 with 16.6 seconds left but Euber dropped in two free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining to seal it.

Reid and Euber had 14 points each to lead the Slaters. Dodge added 10 points with three 3s. Alex Fontaine and Beljavskis added nine each.

Avellino and Reid Langona had 16 apiece for the Wasps. Langona also made four 3-pointers, with three of them coming in the first quarter. Fegard had

10 points and two 3s for a total of 10 treys by the Wasps. Beljavskis, a senior playing his first year of high school basketball, made key contributions. He was a big part of the Slaters taking a 24-22 lead into halftime. Beljavskis made the final hoop of the half and then preserved the lead with a blocked shot at the other end.

“He does some good things for us,” Prenevost said.

Beljavskis got two of his inside hoops off gorgeous wrap-around passes from Euber.

“He’s a big target. He is either going to get the basket or get fouled,” Euber said.

A pivotal play near the end of regulation time was a baseball pass the length of the floor while the Slaters were putting the ball in play. Dodge heaved it over the top to the mercurial Euber for an easy layup that pushed Fair Haven’s lead to 44-41 with 35 seconds remaining.

That looked to be enough until Avellino drained his 3 from a good couple of feet in back of the arc.

The Slaters had an inordinate number of unforced errors so the huddles late in the game were about protecting the ball with the Wasps in a position of having to foul.

“How many 3s did Avellino make? You would think we would get up on him,” Prenevost said.

But as the veteran coach said, his Slaters “dug in and found a way to win.”

And for that they get the supreme challenge, a trip up Route 22 to tangle with the undefeated No. 1 Vergennes Commodores.

That’s fine with Prenevost and the Slaters. They are just happy to survive the overtime challenge from a Woodstock team that has improved immeasurably

since Fair Haven defeated the Wasps by 15 points back in December.

The No. 8 Wasps close the season at 11-10, the same record the Slaters take into their game against the Commodores.