Mitch's Sports Report: Burlington Boys Get Free Of Rice Stranglehold, Winning The D-1 Hoops Title
Another chapter was written into one of the great rivalry stories in Vermont boys' high school basketball when the Burlington Seahorses avenged last year's loss to Rice with a 37-29 victory to claim the Division one state title Saturday.
Senior Josh Hale made his final game a memorable one, leading the Seahorses with eleven points, including six during a deciding 17-4 run for Burlington that put the game away in the fourth quarter. Senior Ben Shungu poured in a game-high 13 points for the Green Knights, not quite enough to spur Rice to a fourth consecutive D-1 title. For Burlington, the state championship is the school's first since they went wire to wire without a loss to claim the title in 2008.
Other titles were handed out Saturday and in Division three girls' basketball senior Emilee Bose ended her tenure with Enosburg in style, scoring nineteen points for the Hornets to beat Thetford 52-37 at Barre Auditorium, another terrific rivalry that brought a measure of revenge for Enosburg. The Hornets had lost three straight times in the playoffs to Thetford before getting past their arch nemesis Saturday.
In Division two, a milestone for the Fair Haven Slaters, who defeated defending champions Mill River 44-29 Saturday to earn the school's first ever state title. Senior Alexis Quenneville paved the way for the Slaters with eighteen points, and in Division four, an eighteen point performance by Mount St. Joseph senior guard Monica Schmelzenbach gave the Mounties a 42-36 win over West Rutland. Schmelzenbach sank two key free throws with just under ten seconds to go to seal the deal for Mount St. Joseph and secure back to back D-4 titles for the Mounties.
With an automatic bid to the NCAA womens' college hockey tournament on the line, Middlebury's Maddie Winslow made sure that she and her Panthers teammates wouldn't miss the big dance.
Winslow's goal a little more than six minutes into overtime gave the Panthers a dramatic 5-4 win over Amherst at Kenyon Arena last night, a win that lifts Middlebury into the NCAA tournament by virtue of the team's eighth NESCAC title championship. The nail-biter finish didn't seem likely early on as Middlebury built a 3-1 lead on two goals by Katie Mandigo and another by Jessica Young, but Amherst scored three timesd in the second period while the Panthers tallied just once on a goal by Janka Hlinka and after a scoreless third period the title was decided by Winslow's overtime strike. The sixth-ranked Panthers find out who their first round opponent will be when the rest of the Division three field is announced later today.
In mens' college hockey, it's been a rough regular season for the University of Vermont Catamounts, but if UVM can keep winning in the playoffs, all that will be forgotten, and so far so good. The Cats finished off a sweep of UConn over the weekend, scoring a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Huskies Saturday after a 2-1 win Friday to advance to the Hockey East quarterfinals. Trailing 3-2 in the third period, UVM captain Yvan Pattyn went top shelf to tie the game, picking the perfect time to score his first goal since 2012, and with just over a minute to go in regulation Brian Bowel potted the game-winner for the Catamounts. But it certainly doesn't get any easier for UVM moving forward. The Cats will next face off against either the top-seeded Boston College Eagles or the number-two Providence Friars.
To the pros, and give it up for the L.A. Lakers, who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in regular season NBA history last night. Coming into the game the Lakers had just thirteen wins to go with fifty one losses in a year that's been solely about saying goodbye to future Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant. The Golden State Warriors, meanwhile, are the most dominant team in the league, led by the other worldly Steph Curry, with fifty five wins and just six losses in a year in which the team is widely expected to shatter the all-time regular season wins record set by Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. But for one night at least, the Lakers flipped the script, beating Golden State 112-95. Jordan Clarkson led the upset, scoring twenty-five for L.A. before a Staples Center crowd that probably felt like they'd been transported back in time to the 1980's and the glory days of "Showtime."
In the NHL, the crosstown rivalry between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers resumed at Madison Square Garden. Tied at four late into the third period Cal Clutterbuck (perennial finalist for best NHL surname) scored with about ninety seconds left to give the Isles the victory. Frans Nielsen made it stand up with an empty netter, and tonight in Florida yet another huge game for the Boston Bruins against the team just ahead of them in the Atlantic division, the Florida Panthers. The B's have shown of late they can play with the big boys, beating the Chicago Blackhawks and then forcing the Washington Capitals to overtime before losing 2-1 at the Garden, but it doesn't get any easier tonight against the ageless Jaromir Jagr and the Panthers.