SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – On a rainy day in Vermont, the Springfield boys basketball team made it rain from long range in a 44-43 win against Otter Valley Saturday afternoon.
The Cosmos knocked down seven 3-point shots and that played a major factor in their win.
Springfield took a six-point lead into the half, but early in the third, the Cosmos started to find their range. In particular, senior Dylan Merrow got his shot going.
Merrow knocked down a trio of 3s in quick succession and Springfield opened up its biggest lead of the day, leading 38-25.
“As a senior, he’s worked hard all summer and he’s had a couple of big games,” said Cosmos coach Mike Hatt. “Those three shots came in a stretch that gave us a bit of a cushion. It allowed us to overcome mistakes we made later on.”
“He hit three in a row and we didn’t close out on his third one,” said Otters coach Mike Stark. “We have to know where the shooters are. We have to communicate more.”
Otter Valley responded after Springfield extended the lead, scoring five points down the stretch of the third to cut the Cosmos’ advantage to single digits heading into the fourth.
The Otters continued on the comeback trail throughout the fourth quarter and did well to get to the basket and force some Springfield fouls.
In a game that lacked much fouling, Otter Valley shot eight of its 10 free throws in the second half.
Mixed in with mistakes from the Cosmos, the Otters cut the lead to as little as one point in the closing seconds. Otter Valley had a chance to win the game on an inbound pass and got a clean look from 3, but the shot wasn’t true.
“We started to rebound the ball and we started to take some open looks,” said Stark of the late surge. “In the first half, we just weren’t aggressive. We came off a long bus ride and we didn’t get ready to play. We started to play basketball better in the second half, but we can’t wait until the second half to start playing.”
“Otter Valley hung with it. Their coach did a nice job of changing defenses and keeping our kids off balance,” Hatt said.
Late in the contest, Hatt just wanted his team to communicate and be as one, knowing that could hold off the Otters’ late run.
“We’ve been talking about staying connected. We have had a lot of situations where we’ve folded late in games,” Hatt said. “We relied on our defense down the stretch. Our defense was pretty good all day. We feel like if we can get 40 to 43 points, we can score enough points to win a game.”
The Cosmos main guards, Merrow (16 points) and Damien Warner (11 points), both had double figure nights in points.
Their bigs, Noah Zierfus and Jacob Stepler, each had eight points.
Stepler was strong in the first quarter, scoring all of his points then, while adding a handful of rebounds.
From the second quarter forward, he was bottled up well by the Otter Valley defense.
Hatt is hoping the post pair can provide a little more production throughout the entirety of the game.
“We had a lot of contact inside and we need to play through the contact. We certainly had our opportunities there,” Hatt said. “On a regular night, you’d like to think if Jake and Noah shoot like they can, it wouldn’t be so close coming down the stretch.”
Cole Letourneau led the Otters with 12 points.
Springfield improves to 3-2 while Otter Valley drops to 2-3.
The Cosmos are back in action on Tuesday as they host Green Mountain. The Otters host Proctor on Wednesday night.
By Adam Aucoin, Jan 4, 2020. Article courtesy of Rutland Herald