No room to breathe: Windsor defense suffocates WRV

  • Windsor's Sydney Perry (20), Reese Perry (12) and Sophia Rockwood battle for a rebound with White River Valley's Hannah Collins during their VPA Division III girls basketball semifinal in Barre, Vt., on Thursday, March 3, 2022. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — Jennifer Hauck

  • White River Valley's Ashlyn Rhoades tries to get a pass off with Windsor's Elliot Rupp on her during their VPA Division III girls basketball semifinal in Barre, Vt., on Thursday, March 3, 2022. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Windsor's Sydney Perry and Sophia Rockwood fight for control of the ball with White River Valley's Ella Perreault during their VPA Division III girls basketball semifinal in Barre, Vt., on Thursday, March 3, 2022. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Jennifer Hauck

  • Windsor players celebrate their win over White River Valley for the VPA Division III girls basketball semifinal in Barre, Vt., on Thursday, March 3, 2022. Windsor won 46-26. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/3/2022 9:38:45 PM
Modified: 3/3/2022 9:50:40 PM

BARRE, Vt. — Once settled in, it was business as usual for the Windsor High girls basketball team.

No, the Yellowjackets didn’t put up 80-plus points, as they did in their first two playoff games. But with their suffocating full-court defense, they didn’t need to. Top-seeded Windsor outscored No. 5 seed White River Valley, 25-7, in the second and third quarters, advancing to the VPA Division III championship game with a 46-26 victory at Barre Auditorium.

The Yellowjackets (20-2) held the Wildcats to just six field goals all night.

“(This building) changes your game, with the crowd and the atmosphere,” Windsor head coach Kabray Rockwood said. “Offensively, we were a little stagnant, missed some open layups, but our defense kept us rolling.”

Senior forward Reese Perry, coming off a 33-point performance against Vergennes in the quarterfinals, had 16 on Thursday — 10 coming in the third quarter — to go along with a whopping 23 rebounds. Her interior presence was complemented by 13 points and nine assists from senior guard Elliot Rupp.

Perry was the lone Yellowjacket who saw significant minutes as a freshman, when Windsor lost in the semifinals to Thetford at the Aud.

“A lot of it became mental fortitude,” Perry said. “I remember (playing here as a freshman) being so scary at the time. I was so nervous, shaking head to toe. It just seemed magical. But the court’s still the same length, the ball still bounces the same way, the rim’s still the same size.”

White River Valley (17-5) trailed by just one after a quarter, in large part because of the Yellowjackets’ foul accumulation — Windsor picked up 19 fouls for the game, compared to nine for the Wildcats. Sophomore guard Tanner Drury led WRV with 10 points, seven of them from the foul line, and junior guard Jillian Barry added seven.

But the Jacks’ superior depth quickly won out, and the Wildcats struggled to keep up with Windsor’s full-court press on offense or contain Perry’s size and post moves on defense.

“We knew we had to shut down their inside game because they’re so much bigger,” WRV head coach Tim Perreault said. “Early on, it was working. But they’re just so much deeper, and we got tired out. All of a sudden, we’re half a step behind, and that made a huge difference. We had a tough time scoring some baskets, too.”

The Wildcats will be in good shape to make a return trip to the Aud next year — their lone senior, Izzy Durkee, played sparingly, and players like Drury and freshman guard Ashlyn Rhoades should continue to improve. This was WRV’s first appearance in the semifinals since the merger of South Royalton, Whitcomb and Chelsea in 2018.

Windsor, meanwhile, has been a perennial championship contender over the last decade, with their last title coming in 2018. The Yellowjackets’ five senior starters — Perry, Rupp, Peyton Richardson, Holly Putnam and Karen Kapuscinski — will make their first appearance in a state final on Saturday night against No. 3 seed Lake Region, which defeated previously-unbeaten Williamstown in the other semifinal.

The Rangers handed Windsor its only regular-season loss to a divisional opponent this year, beating the Yellowjackets 51-42 on Jan. 22.

“I’m looking forward to having another game where I get to play with my favorite team,” Perry said. “We’ll do what we do best and finish out what I think is a really great season for us.”

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




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