Panthers Hold Off O’s
Thetford Dispatches Rival In D-III Playoff Opener
Rivendell forward Stefanie DeSimone hugs her mother, Vanessa DeSimone, a breast cancer survivor, after presenting her with flowers during a presentation honoring cancer survivors before last night’s South Royalton-Rivendell girls basketball game in Orford. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
South Royalton’s Rachel Moore is sandwiched between Rivendell’s Megan Winagle, left, and Tao Ameden (13) last night. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Thetford — First round matchups don’t get much better than this as rivals Thetford and Oxbow battled yesterday in the first round of the Vermont Division III basketball playoffs. The host Panther boys outlasted the Olympians to win 66-50 in front of a raucous crowd with plenty of support on both sides.
The teams were knotted at 11-11 after the first quarter. The Panthers (17-4) then outscored Oxbow 39-26 over the next 16 minutes to pull in front for good.
Ian Weider led Thetford with 20 points, while senior Caleb Lafaille had 24 points for the Olympians.
“They hung around for quite a while,” Thetford coach Justin Smith said. “We dictated tempo and were able to play our game. We made them play fast, which I don’t think they wanted to do.”
Weider keyed the Panthers on both ends of the floor as the up-tempo Thetford offense kept constant pressure on the Olympians. Weider was often charged with guarding Lafaille and helped to slow the potent Oxbow star.
“Ian is probably the best athlete I’ve ever coached,” Smith said. “He was on a mission tonight. He’s a senior and he didn’t want to lose to a neighboring high school in the first round.”
Brandon Gray added 14 points, including three 3-pointers, for Thetford. Dominic Chatot had 10 points, Aiden Cleaves had eight and Andrew Cawley added seven. Smith praised the defensive effort of Cawley and Jordan Eastman for their play off the bench in the second quarter.
The Thetford defense made it a point to limit Lafaille as much as possible. Smith commented on the difficulty of game planning to stop Lafaille, who has given the Panthers plenty of trouble through his high school career.
“We dialed in on Caleb and he still played a really good game. I’m glad he was able to have a good game even though we came out on top,” Smith said.
Thetford plays host to Randolph in the quarterfinals on Friday night at 7 p.m.
Randolph 50, Winooski 35
Randolph — Jacob Sprague had 22 points to lead the Galloping Ghosts to a victory in the first round of the Vermont D-III playoffs.
Levi West added eight points for the Ghosts, who led 25-9 at halftime. Randolph visits Thetford on Friday night.
Meredith, n.h. — The No. 19-seed Cougars went on the road in the first round of the New Hampshire Division III playoffs and stunned the 14th-seeded Lakers with a blistering start before holding on in a hectic final minute.
Carter Noordsij and Peter Allen drained 3-pointers on the first two field goal attempts by Kearsarge, which ran out to a 19-10 lead after the first quarter. Noordsij finished with 19 points and Allen had 17 to lead the Cougars.
“We came out with a lot of confidence,” Kearsarge coach Nate Camp said. “We talked about this being a game where we had nothing to lose, the opportunity was there for the guys. We played solid defense and made shots and then the guys started believing.”
The Cougars survived a late charge by the Lakers, as Inter-Lakes maintained possession, down by a field goal, for most of the final minute. The Kearsarge defense was up to the task in the end.
Next up for the Cougars is a visit to rival Newport, the No. 2 seed in the D-III tournament, tomorrow night. Newport beat host Kearsarge 41-38 in North Sutton last Friday, a game in which the Cougars led by nine points in the third quarter. “It’s obviously a big rivalry for us. I’m proud of our guys to hold on, we’re excited for Newport,” Camp added.
John Stark 27
Lebanon — The Raiders set a dominant tone in the first round of the New Hampshire Division-II playoffs, suffocating the visiting Generals at every turn.
Senior leader Moriah Morton made the most of her 22 minutes of action, recording a triple double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Emily Kehoe added 16 points, Heather King had 14 and Jenny Laramie had seven points. The Raiders led 23-2 after the first quarter and 45-12 at halftime.
“We played as hard as we could, and I think a lot of young kids got some tournament experience,” Lebanon coach Tim Kehoe said.
On Friday night, the Raiders host No. 9 Coe-Brown.
South Royalton 15
Orford — The Raptors and Royals gathered together in support of breast cancer research, working various fundraising efforts before and during the game.
“It’s great when two communities get together for the right reason, to find the cure,” Rivendell coach Russ Wilcox said.
Heather Rockwell had 18 points for the Raptors, including four buckets from 3-point range. Jennifer DeBois and Megan Winagle each had six points. Rachel Moore led South Royalton with nine points.
The Raptors (15-4) close the regular season against Twinfield tomorrow night. South Royalton (5-14) also has one game remaining, at Sharon tomorrow night.
Otter Valley 29
White River Junction — The Hurricanes improved to 16-3 with a win in their regular-season home finale.
Seniors Kelsey Kehoe, Stephanie Grobe, Jess Barnum, Devon Day and Amy Koh all started for the Hurricanes and helped them jump out to a 22-6 lead in the first quarter.
Grobe and Kehoe scored 13 points each for Hartford.
The Canes finish the regular season on Friday at Fair Haven.
Bethel — The Hornets concluded their strong regular season with blowout victory over the Blue Devils to finish with a 14-6 record.
Lindsey LaPerle had 13 points for Whitcomb, which led 29-8 at halftime. Reba Hart added 11 points, Nicole Begin had nine and Jonnie Thompson was called up from the junior varsity and finished with seven points.
The Hornets now look forward to a home playoff game in the Vermont Division IV tournament.
Mid Vermont Christian 32 Black River 31
Ludlow, Vt. — The Eagles survived a tale of two halves to conclude their regular season at 10-9.
MVCS trailed 22-11 at halftime after the Presidents outscored the hosts 17-5 in the second quarter alone. The Eagles then allowed just nine points in the final 16 minutes to earn the victory. Sisters Anna and Phoebe Seale each had 12 points for hosts.
“We had a little talk in the locker room at halftime. The girls came out (of the break) and wanted to play. We shut them down defensively, and Anna and Phoebe started to put the ball in the basket,” Eagles coach Perry Seale said.
Sharon — The Phoenix (2-17) couldn’t overcome a slow first quarter as the Blue Devils led 19-2 after eight minutes.
Suzie Moses had 15 points and Caroline Price had six points for Sharon, who enjoyed senior night festivities prior to the game. Brooke Adams, Eliza Putnam, Sam Abrams and Cassie Lee all played their last home games.
“Other than the first quarter, we played exceptionally well. I’m happy to see we’re still moving forward toward the playoffs,” Sharon coach Brian Allard said.
Windsor — The Jacks (7-12) lost a tight matchup with the Cosmos despite a 15-point effort by Laurel Dana.
Nikki Kibling added 10 points for the Jacks while Ashlee Dimick added seven. “It was a good game, we played well. We still need to finish a little better,” Windsor coach Bruce Mackay said.
Bellows Falls-Hartford Third at States
Vergennes, Vt. — Nolan Viens won an individual state championship for the Bellows Falls-Hartford wrestling team to lead the co-op to a third place finish in the Vermont State Tournament, hosted by Vergennes Union high school last weekend.
Viens won the title in the 145-pound weight class, defeating Brandon Young of CVU in the championship match. Teammate Steve Cerrone took second in the 132-pound weight class while Kyle Record was second in the 152-pound weight class. Mount Anthony won the team title for the 25th straight year while Saint Johnsbury took second and Bellows Falls-Hartford was third out of 24 teams.
“We have a group of great kids who work really hard at improving at every practice. They realize that hard work and dedication is needed for success. I could not be more proud of the type of young men these wrestlers are,” Bellows Falls-Hartford coach Claude Weyant said.