MVCS boys basketball taking wing


Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 01-18-2023 9:21 PM

QUECHEE — Prior to last year’s playoffs, Mid Vermont Christian School boys basketball coach Erva Barnes wrote “1-10” on the chalkboard and asked his team if anyone knew what those numbers meant. Nobody did.

Barnes, in his third season as head coach, was referencing the Eagles’ postseason record since they joined the Vermont Principals Association prior to the 2010-11 season. Their lone win had come in 2013, when they went 15-5 in the regular season and earned the No. 2 seed in Division IV but were upset at home in the quarterfinals.

MVCS secured a second playoff win last winter in the opening round over Poultney but faded down the stretch in the quarterfinals against White River Valley. With their entire starting lineup back this year, though, the Eagles (9-2) could be headed for their first-ever trip to Barre Auditorium in March.

“If we got better, we grew internally,” Barnes said. “There’s been a little bit of changing positions and asking kids to do different things. Not necessarily any new strategies or plays or philosophies, but really working hard to try to get as many kids on the court able to do multiple things. Trying to take every kid and grow them into a more complete player has been the focus this year.”

Senior guard Joel Roberts leads MVCS in scoring, averaging upward of 20 points per game — many of which come from 3-point range. Roman Goeppner, the Eagles’ other senior, plays in the post and cleans up on the boards. He even attempted a dunk Tuesday night against West Rutland, but got caught in between steps and nearly traveled before coming up short of the rim.

Junior guard Abel Goodwin can also be an explosive scorer, with three games of at least 24 points. Sophomore Carson Meloon, a guard last year, grew between four and five inches during the offseason and now helps out Goeppner in the post.

“We have a lot more chemistry,” Meloon said. “We can pass a little better, we’re a little more well-rounded as a team, and we have more fun together.”

Basketball talent can be difficult to find at a school that enrolls just 117 students combined from preschool through 12th grade, especially with facilities that are hardly state-of-the-art. Barnes said MVCS students often leave for public high schools after attending for elementary school and junior high.

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But this team is likely the most complete group the Eagles have put together. Hardly anyone besides the five starters — Roberts, Goeppner, Goodwin, Meloon and now-sophomore Jadon Goeppner — played last season. Now, though, Barnes will give rotation minutes to sophomore Noah Patel and junior Noah Schutzius off the bench, although neither has scored a point this year.

Still, MVCS is thin on depth even compared to most other Division IV schools. In the Eagles’ first loss against Richford on Dec. 29, Mid Vermont rallied from an early double-digit deficit to tie the game in the third quarter but ran out of steam late and lost by 17. In their second loss on Jan. 7 against Long Trail, the Eagles led by six at the half but could not hold on.

“We expect them to be well-conditioned, and I tend to play my best players, almost always, 32 minutes a night because I want them to be tired at the end of the night,” Barnes said. “I want them to be ready when it’s tough. I don’t really care if we’re up 30 or 50 or 10 or five, I’m going to keep those guys in. They’re going to run hard, they’re going to get in good shape, and they’re going to be ready to go 32 minutes against the next team.”

MVCS has some tough tests still to come, starting with a rematch against Richford on the road on Friday. Defending state champion Blue Mountain visits Quechee on Feb. 10, and the Eagles conclude the regular season with a trip to Danville on Feb. 17. But Barnes knows this is his program’s best chance to make a deep playoff run, if not win a championship — and he’s pushing his players accordingly.

“It’s not often that our school has a lot of talent, so we’re trying to capitalize as much as we can on what we have this year,” Barnes said. “All the boys see that there’s a unique opportunity in front of us that we want to take advantage of. That’s why I’m so hard on them.

“Even if we win by 30, I’m still hard on them if they turn the ball over too much, because they know they can do better.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at or 603-727-3302.