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Canes Cruise To Victory

White River Junction — When Ed Kehoe took over as the Hartford High girls basketball coach, it was a less than enviable position. After all, the Hurricanes were coming off a state championship and he was the team’s new leader, replacing the popular Steve Landon, who moved to the boys program. On top of that, three starters had graduated.

Consequently, one of the things he said after his Hurricanes easily handled Mill River, 55-35, in its Vermont Division II first round game last night was, “I didn’t think we would be 17-3.”

Actually, the Hurricanes, the fourth seed, are now 18-3. They will host fifth-seeded Lake Region back in White River Junction in the quarterfinals tomorrow night at 7 p.m.

The Hurricanes have been on a roll since losing to Hanover on Jan. 7, winning 14 of their last 15. As always, the key to their success has been the defense.

“We knew the last time we played them (a 66-33 loss) that we had no chance if we couldn’t handle their press,” Mill River coach Ken Webb said. “We practiced against the press all week, but it didn’t make much difference. They are a great defensive team.”

In addition to the defense, the Hurricanes shot the ball well, including 7 of 21 from beyond the 3-point arc and 22 of 61 from the floor. Junior Taylor Johnson, who had six 3-pointers in Friday’s win over Fair Haven, had three more last night. Chelsea Dow added a pair of 3-pointers.

“We played real well,” said Kehoe. “I thought we made them tentative.”

The Hurricanes also had a huge depth advantage, as Kehoe made wholesale substitutions all night.

Senior Forward Stephanie Grobe had a great all-around game for the Canes, as her 16 points came from an 8-for-12 shooting night. She added six steals and three assists. Kelsey Kehoe took only four shots, but made three as part of her seven points. She also had five rebounds.

The press and depth had an immediate effect in the game. It was a full-court man-to-man press, but when a Mill River player picked up her dribble and took the ball to a corner she was surrounded more than Custer was at Little Bighorn.

“That has been our strategy all year,” said Kehoe, who took his starting unit out in the first period and put in five fresh players.

The game didn’t start getting out of hand until the second quarter. It was a 17-12 game with 5:07 to play, but the Hurricanes closed out the period with a 13-0 run to take a 30-12 edge at half time. The Canes had three 3-point baskets in the period as Hanna Hausler, Dow and Johnson all connected from beyond the arc.

When Johnson and Dow connected for 3-pointers early in the third quarter, the lead got up to 40-13, and from then on, it was just a matter of what the final score would be.