Mitch's Sports Report: The 50-Year Drought Is Over For Rutland Boy's High School Hoops
It was the year of the Boston Red Sox Impossible Dream season. The year Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway thrilled moviegoers in the biopic "Bonnie and Clyde". The last time the Original Six Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team hoisted the Stanley Cup. And until last night at Patrick Gymnasium, 1967 was the last year the Rutland High School boy's basketball team was crowned division one state champs.
Fifty years in the waiting, perhaps it was fitting that the Raiders needed to go a bit longer than regulation to defeat the top seeded CVU Redhawks to wrest back the title, winning in overtime 43-37 before a packed house of fans who saw one of the great state finals ever.
Matt Loman led all scorers with 18 points on the night, and in the overtime frame Kyle Cassarino was as cool as a mid-March snowstorm, going 4 for 4 on free throws, the most important of his nine points on the evening. Rutland had several chances to win the state championship in recent years, but could never quite get over the hump. For the top-seeded Redhawks, it was their first shot at the D-1 crown, following the program's best ever regular season. Josh Bliss led CVU with 10 points, and his steal and layup with 40 seconds to go sent the game to overtime, but a 6-0 run early in the overtime gave the Raiders a lead they would not give up, and a state title to bring home for the first time in half a century.
Barre Auditorium was another site for high school playoff action last night, and in girl's division two play Mill River held off a spirited challenge from U-32 in a 23-18 win. Tessa Davenport had a game high 11 for Mill River and Olivia McPhee added eight, and now the Minutemen advance to the D-2 state title game on Saturday against either Lyndon Institute or Fair Haven.
In division four play, Mount St. Joseph will be trying for their third straight state title after beating Cabot 43-39 last night, despite a game hig 19 points from Cabot's Alisha Celley and 16 from teammate Kiley Currier. Jenna Eaton led the Mounties with 13 points and Lyndsey Elms added 11 in the semi-final victory. Crafstbury Academy will try to keep the Mounties from their state title three-peat in the final.
Two girl's playoff games that were scheduled for tonight at Patrick Gym have been postponed until Thursday night due to the oncoming snowstorm expected to start this afternoon. No. 2 Champlain Valley will tip off against No. 3 Mount Anthony Thursday and top-seeded St. Johnsbury will take on No. 5 BFA-St. Albans, at 8.
To the pros, and in the NHL the nickname for Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins is "The Little Ball of Hate", a nod to both his modest height on the ice and his penchant for irritating opposing players with scrappy, sometimes chippy play, and nowhere is that moniker more embraced than in Vancouver, where Marchand made himself public enemy number one back in 2011 when he helped the Bruins defeat the Canucks for the Stanley Cup championship. So it was again last night when the hometown crowd in British Columbia booed lustily ever time Marchand touched the puck, and probably added some other utterances not appropriate for early morning radio when Marchand scored a hat trick, all three goals coming in the 3rd period to lead Boston to a 6-3 win. And while Marchand was known in the early part of his career as an effective pest, he's now blossomed into one of the league's best skill players and a dangerous goal scorer. with hs three tallies last night he's now tied for the league lead in goals with Sidney Crosby, each with 35 on the season, and he trails only Edmonton's Connor McDavid for the lead in overall points. Tuukka Rask got the win in net last night, making 26 saves. Next up for the Bruins on their road trip is the hot as their name Calgary Flames, winners of now ten games in a row after beating Pittsburgh 4-3 in overtime last night.
Elsewhere, the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the NY Rangers 3-2, with Brayden Point scoring twice, including the game winner in the third period, and he did it on his 21st birthday. With the game being played at Madison Square Garden, my guess is the coaching staff told him to take it easy celebrating that game winner and two goal night just as he becomes eligible to drink legally while in the city that never sleeps.
In the World Baseball Classic, Israel suffered its first loss of the tournament, falling 12-2 to the Netherlands yesterday, while Venezuela beat Italy 4-3.