Knights Roll to Springfield Tournament Championship

Springfield, Vt. — Maybe the luxury bus the Rice Knights traveled from Burlington to the Springfield Girls Holiday Tournament was a clue that inside the comfy carrier were some classy cagers who knew how to play the game.

At least the foes the Knights met at the tourney will not disagree. After dispatching Brattleboro in the opening round earlier in the week, Rice returned to Dressel Gym on Saturday and put Hartford away, 70-28, in the championship game.

“We didn’t know what to expect when we came down here,” said Rice coach Jim Rice. “All I told the girls was that we are going to play Rice basketball.”

And what is Rice basketball?

“Rice basketball is play defense to the utmost, respect the game and have some fun,” said Rice. “We also teach them sportsmanship and the whole basketball journey.”

It also helps if you have a near 1,000-point scorer in Hailee Baron and a supporting cast that moves the ball rapidly and clears for the good shot. Coach Rice was a little reluctant to talk about just how close Baron was to 1,000.

“She’s close, maybe 50-60 points, which is nice, but that’s not what we are all about,” he said.

The win lifted the Division I Knights to 4-1, with the loss coming to Champlain Valley, leaving the question as to just how good is CVU?

“They are really good,” was all Coach Rice would say.

The consolation game was also one-sided, with Brattleboro downing Springfield 57-25.

The loss for Hartford left the Hurricanes at 1-4, and coach Billy Soule knew his team just didn’t match up.

“We knew we had to play great and that didn’t happen. I don’t like to get hammered that way, still, it was good for the kids to play against that type of competition,” said Soule. “Rice has kids who just play basketball all year, while our kids play multiple sports.”

Rice brought 14 players to the game ,and 12 scored led by 13 from Baron, who looked equally comfortable at guard as well as forward. She hit a 3-pointer 45 seconds into the game to put her team up 3-1 and the Knights never trailed again.

It was 27-6 after one period and 43-15 at the half as the Knights cleared the bench early.

Hartford sophomore Kristin Davis gave a good account of herself with eight points and Taylor Johnson had five points in the third quarter and seven in the game.

Hartford hosts Burr and Burton on Monday.