A Grand Time for Panthers

Josler Hits 1,000; TA Drops Oxbow

Shyann Josler

Shyann Josler

Thetford — When Shyann Josler notched her 1,000th career point Saturday night against Oxbow, Thetford Academy’s jam-packed Vaughan Gym was probably the loudest it’s ever been. Resonating even more thoroughly was the statement the Panthers were making to the rest of Vermont Division III.

Josler got exactly the 11 points needed to become the school’s seventh girl — and 14th overall — 1,000-point scorer as Thetford dominated one of its closest rivals — in both geographic proximity and in the VPA standings — with a 53-29 romp of the Olympians.

The countdown to Josler’s 1,000th proved more suspenseful than the game, even though both Oxbow and the Panthers came in at 11-1 with their only loss to D-I contender U-32.

With Thetford’s speedy defense holding O’s senior center Mikayla Hodge (eight points) to single digits for the first time all season, Josler also struggled at times and had just five points when she went to the bench with four fouls late in the third quarter. Fellow seniors Jill Clark (game-high 12 points), Michaela Pomeroy (nine) and the rest of the Panthers did fine without Josler on the floor, extending their cushion to 42-25 in her absence.

With the game in hand when Josler re-entered with four minutes to play, Thetford worked to get her open looks. She missed a 3-pointer and another uncontested shot from the outside soon after re-entering, and the Panthers went back to their regular offense.

That keyed a spurt of six points in about a minute for Josler, who scored on a feed from Clark, an unassisted pull-up in the paint and, with two minutes to play, a layup on the left side following another steal and assist from Clark to clinch the milestone.

Josler gleefully pumped her fist in the paint as Jade Huntington — Vermont’s top all-time girls basketball scorer with 2,114 points at Oxbow who now presides as Thetford athletic director and assistant girls coach — grabbed the microphone to announce congratulations, barely audible over the roar.

The celebration continued after the game as Josler received giant, gold-colored balloons depicting the sum as well as lots of flowers from the well-wishers who lined up. She also posed for photographs with Panthers’ 1,000-point club alumni who made it to the occasion on a snowy night.

Josler, who’s played in all of a possible 80 games since her freshman season, is the first Thetford player to reach 1,000 since Jason Gray in 2009, and the first female Panther to do so since Jolin Maclayin 2001.

“It was in the back of my mind, but honestly at the forefront was beating Oxbow,” said Josler. “We were coming off a loss to U-32 (Thursday) and we came out and played really hard tonight, not just myself, but as a team, which was really nice to see.”

Oxbow jumped out to a 4-0 lead on a jump shot by Lauren Tomlinson and Hodge’s putback, but Thetford quickly gained control following an Oxbow timeout.

Playing aggressively in transition and on defense, Clark found Pomeroy for a jumper, Josler and Pomeroy each turned steals into their own layups and Pomeroy hit Clark for a fast-break 3-pointer to cap an 11-0 run.

It only got worse from there for Oxbow, which attempted only eight shots in the first quarter — Thetford attempted double that — and shot just 5-of-18 in the first half and 10-of-39 for the game. Even a 15-9 rebounding advantage in the first half couldn’t keep the O’s in it as they failed to net second-chance points despite a height advantage and a 6-2 edge on the offensive glass through two.

“We did a good job sticking to our game plan and our guards did a pretty good job getting up the floor against their press, but our offense was out of rhythm,” said Olympians coach Barry Emerson. “We weren’t shooting enough. Against man-to-man defense, you’ve got to step up and shoot a 15-foot jump shot when your man goes under a screen and we just weren’t doing things like that.”

The Panthers opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run, building a 35-17 lead on a pair of free throws from Pomeroy following a Tara Pellerin steal.

The O’s got it back to 13 on an outside jumper from Tomlinson and a layup by freshman Dahlia Klarich at the end of the third period, but Thetford rallied with Josler on the bench with four fouls. After a steal and layup by Pomeroy, Clark found Pellerin in the lane and she drew the foul, converting 1-of-2 free throws to make it 42-25 with 4:10 remaining to queue Josler’s return.

Extra Points: Previous 1,000-point scorers Gray (‘09), Chris Snider and Damon McGinn (both ‘03) and Jolene Thurston Padwell (1996) were on hand. ... Josler’s first hugs after the game came from parents Wayne and Lisa Josler. ... Oxbow used two timeouts in the first 3:05 of the first quarter. ... A youth clinic put on by Oxbow’s players drew 38 5th- and 6th-graders to Mona Garone Gym Saturday morning.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.