SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Speaking to Springfield girls’ basketball coach, Joe Costello, following his team’s first eight games, he offered, “I think the schedule has played out about the way that I thought it would. We dropped a game that I thought we should of won.” He’s referring to a score of 53-47 in the second game of the season at Randolph. He continued, “We competed really hard. We caught a team in Hartford, who is a very competitive team that plays a tough schedule and they protected their home floor. We have won three of our four close games. We grew as a team a lot in the off-season. Still though, one of the things this team needs to learn is how to play as a favorite. That takes a maturity that we are trying to find. We are still a young team, but many of our young players already have experience on the basketball court, so I am expecting big things.”
Losses to Green Mountain 46-44 and Bellows Falls 65-56 followed Costello’s comments. A successful outing against Green Mountain, on Monday in Springfield, avenged the earlier defeat to the Chieftains. Today, Costello’s team sits in ninth place in the Vermont Division II standings with a 6-5 record, one spot behind rival Bellows Falls. If the play-offs began now, the two would meet in Bellows Falls in the first round. Bellows Falls is 10-2, but their eighth place placement is attributed to a much weaker schedule than Springfield faces. The two teams are close to equal.
Springfield has already played two of the top six teams in Vermont Division II. Bellows Falls has not played a Division II team except for Springfield. The game the two rivals play this Thursday night in Bellows Falls will go a long ways towards determining both teams’ final placement. The Cosmos were in the midst of a four-game losing streak, which was broken with the win over the Chieftains Monday. The third game in that stretch was a 37-24 loss to top ranked Fair Haven. Randolph is the other top-six team that has claimed Springfield as their victim. Both of those games were played on the road. Costello’s team trailed by 2, 24-22, at the half in Randolph, but Fair Haven had their way from the outset in the Slater win, as they do with most foes. Fair Haven even played Champlain Valley Union, the perennial top team in Vermont Division I tough. Hannah Crosby’s 14 led the Cosmos in the Fair Haven game, while Hailey Perham was the high scorer versus Randolph with 20 and Crosby added 13.
This edition of the Cosmos has shown that they are capable of playing on the road though. The season opened at Oxbow and they won a tight one 41-35. Gabriella Wardwell led the Springfield team with 10 points and Jessica Cerniglia added 8 in that one. The Cosmos game at Riverside with Mount Saint Joseph went to the wire with the locals claiming a 41-40 victory. Julianna Albero-Levings was the game hero. Not only did she lead the scoring parade with 11, but she hit the game winning three down the stretch to claim victory. Crosby added 10 points and Wardwell 8.
Three more consecutive wins, including over Twin Valley on the road 51-37, Leland & Gray at home 39-33, and Woodstock on the road 72-12 preceded the aforementioned four game losing skid. The MSJ thriller started the good days. Cerniglla and Wardwell each had 14 versus Twin Valley. Madee Stagner added 12. The Cosmos built a 14-point lead early versus Leland & Gray, but Costello said, “We just didn’t finish.”
Emily Perham’s 11 points paced the offensive attack in this one and Crosby, who played limited minutes due to the flu, added 10 points and Cerniglia tossed in 8. Perham’s 18 was high in the Woodstock victory, and she had plenty of scoring help from Cerniglia, Kaylee Warren, Albero-Levings, and Wardell with 16, 9, 8, and 7 respectively.
Costello mentioned earlier the tough Hartford match-up and Crosby had 11 and Stagner had 9 in a 43-31 defeat on a night Springfield just couldn’t get their offense in gear. Wardwell played well in each of the games versus area foes. She had 16 in each Green Mountain game, many of those coming in a two-person passing game with Crosby. She had 14 more versus the Terriers in the same manner. Crosby had 50 points in the three local games. She had a season high 21 in the second Green Mountain game, 20 in the Bellows Falls encounter, and in Chester chipped in with 9. Perham also added some scoring contributions with 10 at Green Mountain and 12 versus Bellows Falls. Stagner came up with a big 7 and kept the Cosmos in the game versus the rival Terriers with a strong rebounding effort in the one night she probably belonged at home, pushing her way through sickness to add to the cause.
It now comes down to when the identity of this year’s Cosmos will be determined. Nine games remain and they would like to gain a minimum of eighth place, to earn a home play-off game when the postseason commences. Bellows Falls is next in their way, and they sit in the eighth place the Cosmos cherish. Thursday’s game is not do or die in the final standings, but it is certainly one big step for Joe Costello’s Cosmos team.