This & That

This and That by Bill Murphy

Before the ink was dry on last week’s issue, Green Mountain made a major statement on where their rank was in boys’ area basketball. I had stated that Bellows Falls and Springfield were likely the top two teams in the area because of their new coaches and a senior-laden experienced group. The Chieftains defeated Springfield 66-49 on the second day of their own Holiday Tournament and blew those rankings out of the water. Now, we will take our chances on the girls’ rank and file.

Once again, I believe two teams should separate themselves from the rest of the pack; and this time, I find it really difficult to choose between the two. Springfield and Fall Mountain should be the two teams that advance the furthest. For the sake of making a choice, I tab the Cosmos with the top spot. The Division II Cosmos came out on top in their first two contests against a pair of Division III locals and showed the necessities to take the early fly on them.

Pete Peck’s team opened with a 52-12 triumph over Leland & Gray and then came out on top in a home contest with archrival Bellows Falls 57-45. Unfortunately, those two teams, who have delighted area fans the past two years with their match-ups, will only meet once this season. The Terriers’ move to Division III has removed their second contest from the slate. Obviously, because they are in different divisions, the classic playoff match-up with the large crowd the two schools drew last winter won’t be repeated.

In those first two encounters, Hailey Perham led Springfield in scoring in the opener with 12 and Gabby Wardwell and Meghan Stagner added 8. In the Bellows Falls victory, Wardwell’s 22 led the way, Perham contributed 18, and Stagner 8. Haley Streeter added 8 points of her own versus Bellows Falls. Peck said, “You can’t complain about being 2-0. Bellows Falls is good and was a good early season game for us. I like our group of seven seniors and the underclassmen we have and look forward to the challenges ahead.”

Fall Mountain is 1-1 and will be hosting their own holiday tournament beginning the day after Christmas with the Wildcats in action versus Hillsboro-Deering at 2:30 p.m. Matthew Baird-Torney’s team caught bad breaks the first week of action. First, they lost their opener to weather against Raymond, which forced them to open against New Hampshire Division III favorite Conant.

A basketball circling the rim of the hoop
Area schools start their winter basketball season. Stock photo

That line of bad luck continued when the Wildcats fell into foul trouble right away versus Conant and dropped behind by a bundle. Although Fall Mountain played Conant quite even for about half the game, the early lead prevented them from being really competitive and they lost 66-47. Sophomore Avery Stewart’s 17 points paced Fall Mountain and Sophie Bardis and Makenna Grillone added 10 and 7 respectively. Taylor Patch had an impressive game with 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.

The Wildcats were not tested at all in the season’s second game as they thrashed Winnisquam 81-6 in a game, which saw ten Fall Mountain players score. This time Stewart and Bardis netted 15 and 13 respectively, while Grillone and Shea Pickering were also in double figures with 13 and 11. Baird-Torney was “pleased with our depth on display,” in the second game, while mentioning, “Glad we had an early opportunity to see where we need to get to,” regarding the Conant game.

Although Bellows Falls stands at 0-2 with a tough home game versus Windsor taking place as this paper is being printed, don’t be surprised if they put together a strong season.

The schedule maker did the Terriers no favors concerning their start, which saw that open with Division II defending champ Fair Haven on the road and bowing 65-42. The Slaters could be working on a back-to-back scenario. Taylor Goodell led the Terriers in scoring in both games thus far, tallying 13 versus Fair Haven and 20 in the Cosmos game. Halle Dickerson netted 12 in the Fair Haven encounter and Maya Waryas’ 9 supported Goodell’s markers at Springfield. Fair Haven had a sensational 15 three-pointers in the victory over Bellows Falls.

“We have suffered from some inexperience early, with turnovers a real problem,” Coach Todd Wells noted. “We have improved each game, and I expect that to continue.” The Terriers are clearly the area’s third plus team.

Each of the three other area teams likely won’t have a winning record, but each of them will have some competitive contests.

Green Mountain should be the best of the rest, but they did lose nine seniors a year ago, and the other experienced player will miss the season with injury. The team is 1-1 with both games taking place in their holiday tourney.

“We were only down two at the half,” Coach Jeff Buffum noted about the Chieftains’ 52-25 defeat in the opener to Twin Valley. Hannah Robinson tallied 9 points in that opening loss and netted 11 in the victory over Black River in the second day of the tourney. Turnovers have been a problem for Green Mountain.

The win over Black River 43-31 could well be the final athletic contest between those two schools, who have been rivals since before any of us were around. Kim Cummings’ 22 points led the scoring parade for the girls from Chester, who had their own high school when the rivalry began.

Black River is presently 0-4 in their final year of competition, but Coach Howie Paul feels, “We are getting better every game, and I think – with the lack of experience we have – played as well as we could against Black River. It was close much of the second half and even Coach Buffum said with a few breaks the game could have been ours.”

Leland & Gray should finish above Black River in area play. The Rebels held their own tournament to open the season, and they split the two games. They advanced to the finals with a one-sided 32-14 triumph over Arlington before they ran into a buzzsaw named Brattleboro 47-14.

Brattleboro won one of the best girls’ games in the Vermont early season in the first round when they nipped Burr & Burton 66-65 on a big hoop at the buzzer. Sydney Hescock had 11 points to pace Coach Terry Merrow’s team in their opener.

“It was a good opener for us, but, playing Brattleboro, we certainly couldn’t match up,” Merrow stated.

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