Rivendell boys basketball gets past Danville to reach VPA D-IV final

By BENJAMIN ROSENBERG

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-09-2023 6:04 PM

BARRE, Vt. — This time, there would be no late collapse for the Rivendell Academy boys basketball team.

Instead of letting a big lead slip away in the final minute, as they did in last year’s state semifinal, the Raptors created separation in the fourth quarter, securing a spot in the VPA Division IV championship game with a 66-49 victory over Danville on Wednesday at Barre Auditorium.

“I wish I could say I didn’t think about (last year’s game) at all today,” said Rivendell head coach Andy Perkins, who was the junior varsity coach at the time before taking over the varsity team this season. “Tonight, I was able to focus on (this game), and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to, because during the day it entered my mind. This is a different group, and they worked hard.”

The No. 2 seed’s victory over the Bears was driven by a dominant rebounding performance, especially on the offensive glass. Overall, the Raptors outrebounded the No. 3 seed, 49-25.

Senior center Harry Molesworth filled the box score with 12 points, 19 rebounds and six blocks, including four rather emphatic swats.

Rivendell (19-4) never trailed, but Danville (16-7) stayed within striking distance until late. Molesworth helped extend the lead to nine points at the half during a stretch where he rebounded his own miss and drew a foul, blocked a shot from the Bears’ Andrew Joncas and got a putback layup after another series of offensive rebounds.

“When we’re on, nobody can stop us,” Molesworth said. “We were more confident than we ever have been, and we weren’t going to think about last year.”

Junior guard Jacoby Patterson — three nights after being held to five points and no field goals in the Raptors’ quarterfinal win over Leland & Gray — had a game-high 21 on Wednesday, including Rivendell’s only two 3-pointers.

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Rivendell’s leading scorer, Patterson put up nine points in the third quarter to keep pace with a rejuvenated Danville offense.

The Raptors led by eight entering the fourth.

Senior forward Josiah Welch (14 points) and junior guard Finn O’Donnell (12) joined Patterson and Molesworth in double figures. Rivendell’s fifth starter, senior forward Ashton Pierson, added seven points and 12 rebounds.

“We definitely tried to run (Patterson) off some more screens to free him up a little bit,” Perkins said. “Understandably, teams focus on him, and it’s a good strategy to try to slow him down, but we tried to put him in a couple different spots and have Josiah and Harry take a little bit of the ball-handling so that he could do some work off-ball.”

Rivendell, which lost its two previous state final appearances in 2012 and 2015, will face No. 4 seed Mid Vermont Christian at noon Saturday back at the Aud.

The teams did not meet in the regular season but played to a tie in a preseason scrimmage in Orford in which the Raptors were without Molesworth and Welch, who both missed the start of the season with injuries.

The Raptors have lost just once since Molesworth returned in early January, and they will enter Saturday’s title game on a 12-game winning streak.

“If we play the way that we have been playing, I feel good,” Perkins said. “I’m just really happy for these guys. They put in so much time, and they did all the work for this. They deserve the credit.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.

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