The planets appear out of whack. The Fall Mountain Girls Basketball team, our one staple to play the latest high school basketball game in our area every winter, is the first to be eliminated from post-season play this year. However, there are extenuating circumstances.
For some reason, Vermont has pushed their winter season back. For the first time – in possibly ever-, they are playing regular season games in March. Was this the only way they could get ahead of the Fall Mountain Girls?
Despite the fact, the Lady Wildcats were the first local team to be officially eliminated in a tournament game this winter, before all is said and done, they may end up being the only area team to win a post season game this winter.
Getting back to that out of whack theme … Fall Mountain’s beginning to the post season was as out of whack as you can get. They played their first round game last Thursday night at home at 9:15 p.m. Yes, that is correct – 9:15 at night. The Maroon and White hosted Interlakes and the visitor’s bus broke down on the way to the 7 p.m. game. The Cats calmly waited and then came away with a 49-37 victory.
Brooke Aumand and Ella Stewart led the scoring parade in the Interlakes triumph with 15 points each and Zoey Loupa chipped in with 7 in a contest which saw FM lead 14-10, 24-20 and 31-23 at the three stopping points. Coach Boomer Aumand said that “tougher defense” was the key to pulling away in the second half.
Then came the quarterfinals, when FM traveled to Conant and fell 37-33 to a team they beat twice during the regular season and once in the Keene Holiday Tournament. The old adage, if teams are close in ability, it is difficult to defeat the same team three times. In this case, how about try to beat them four times?
Then again there is the sticking point, that the Lady Cats only played 16 regular season games and early indications were that those lost two games, cost Aumand’s team the home court advantage in the quarterfinal game. Checking inside the numbers, even if the Cats had played Bellows Falls twice, the expected opponent, who chose to drop the two games, and defeated them, FM would have been a point short of catching Conant.
On the other hand, if the Cats had been able to pick up two games to replace BF, at least one of them would have had to have been against a New Hampshire Division II school and they would have had to win both games, in order to pass Conant and claim the home court..
By the way, picking up new games in New Hampshire after the original schedule is released, has always been difficult and Fall Mountain still does not have those two games on next years schedule, because it is the second year of a two year schedule cycle. FM athletic director Gordon Danserau has tried to be creative, by calling two schools, who are not rivals, and asking “why don’t you two play just once and we could play each of you once.”
Thus far, there have been no takers. Danserau is now turning his focus on other Vermont schools, (Vermont is in the first year of their two year cycle next winter), in hopes of acquiring those games.
Back to the actual FM-Conant contest in the quarterfinals. Aumand points out,
“We knew this was a different team than we faced earlier in the season. It was a battle. They upped their game, but so did we. But they played a little better.”
Conant led 9-6 after one and then, for the second straight FM play-off game, both teams scored 10 points in the second quarter, making it 19-16 at intermission.
Aumand said, “We talked about momentum at the half and said it was our turn.”
That was the way it played out with the Cats outscoring Conant in the third 12-7 for a 28-26 advantage entering the final stanza, a lead which eventually climbed to five, before turnovers, fouls and missed free throws, left the girls from Langdon, on the outside looking in. Dana Dearborn, who led FM in the point parade, had 7 of her 9 points in that third stanza.
Once again, with the planets out of whack, the Fall Mountain Girls have completed their season, but they could be the area team that still ends up going the furthest.
Aumand says that the ending does leave him, “disappointed, but, we had a great season just the same. I can’t say enough about these kids. They worked very hard all season with big expectations coming off an almost perfect soccer season. That act was hard to follow.”
That is certainly true. Championships don’t grow on trees.