Mitch's Sports Report: St. Johnsbury Girls End CVU's String Of Five Straight D-1 Hoops Titles
They were looking to make it six state division one girl's high school basketball titles in a row. They came in as the favorites to do so, even though they were not the number one seed. But yesterday, the CVU Redhawks found out why the St. Johnsbury Hilltoppers were the top-seeded team, as St. J beat CVU, dethroning the five times in a row champs in a 48-33 stunner at Patrick Gym.
St. Johnsbury rode the hot hand of sophomore Josie Choiniere, who went four for four from beyond the arc in the first half and finished with a game high 23 points, leading St. J to its first D-1 state title in eight years. Maryn Askew led CVU with 13 points, but it wasn't enough to overcome a Hilltoppers squad determined to break one of the most remarkable wining streaks in Vermont history.
And on the ice tonight the girls' division one hockey championship is on the line with exactly the match-up you'd want. The Number one seeded Essex GHornets will skate against their long time rivals, the number two seed Comets of BFA-St. Albans. This is roughly the equivalent of a Boston Bruins-Montreal Canadiens rivalry, those two NHL squads having met more times against each other in regular season and playoffs than any two teams in any major sport. BFA and Essex are facing off against each other for a seventh straight season in the playoffs, and that includes three times in the finals. The puck drops tonight at Gutterson Fieldhouse to see who will take home the state title this season.
It's definitely not the team they wanted to be facing, nor the tournament they expected to be playing in. Following the University of Vermont men's basketball team's stunning upset defeat at the hands of UMBC in the America East Final Saturday morning, the Catamounts will settle instead for a match up against Middle Tennessee State in the National Invitational Tournament, a game that will take place tomorrow night in Tennessee. UVM takes the floor as the six seed to Middle Tennessee as the favored third seed, but UVM will need to shake off any lingering feelings of disappointment after losing to Maryland Baltimore on their home court of Patrick Gym on a last second three pointer by UMBC Saturday, a loss that ruined any chance of getting back to the NCAA tournament and takes the air out of an otherwise spectacular regular season for the Catamounts that saw them dominate the America East conference until that final championship game.
In college women's hockey, division three action, as expected the Norwich Cadets advanced with an easy 8-2 win over Morrisville State, and Plattsburgh State defeated Middlebury 3-1. In men's college hoops, division three semi-finals, MIT squeaked by Middlebury 79-76 Friday night.
The NCAA ski championships were completed over the weekend with freestyle events held at the University of Colorado, and the host school came in second overall in the competition, ceding the championship to their rivals at the University of Denver. The Big Green of Dartmouth finished in third place, followed by Utah and then UVM in fifth. Middlebury took eighth and St. Michael's finished a school-record 12th among the 23 schools in the event.
And at the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association National Championships, the men's and women's Castleton Spartans teams both had third place overall finishes, and Paul Rechberger finished as the combined national champion.
Congratulations to Vermont's own Elinor Purrier, who took first place in the mile at the NCAA indoor track championships at Texas A&M University Saturday. Purrier is a native of Montgomery, Vermont, and graduated from Richford high school, and now runs track as a senior at the University of New Hampshire. She captured her first national championship winning the mile with a time of 4 minutes, 31.76 seconds in a near photo finish.
To the pros, and in the NHL, the Boston Bruins saw their six-game winning streak come to an end, a 6-0 record achieved on a perfect home-stand and with the absence of a trio of key players. But the Bruins played the back end of yesterday's home and home series with the Chicago Blackhawks without yet another major chess piece in their leading scorer Brad Marchand, who sat out with an upper body injury suffered in a collision with Chicago's Anthony Duclair on Saturday. The Bruins trailed late in the game 1-0 when defenseman Zdeno Chara wristed home the tying goal with about six minutes to go on a nice feed from David Krejc. But it was also Chara who was called for a double minor high sticking penalty just a few minutes later, which opened the door for Patrick Kane to put the eventual game winner behind Anton Khudobin on the ensuing power play. The Hawks tacked on one more to win it 3-1. Khudobin did play very well in this one, keeping the Bruins in the game with 36 saves.
In the NBA, the Boston Celtics had one and a half seconds left on the clock, trailing the Indiana Pacers by two, but a last second shot by Terry Rozier missed the mark and the Pacers beat the Celtics 99-97 in Boston.
Finally, some hot stove baseball news. The Philadelphia Phillies have signed free agent pitcher Jake Arrieta to a three-year, $75 Million deal. Arrieta was one of the best pitchers in the game from 2014 to 2015 with an ERA barely over two. He's been less stellar the past couple of years with an ERA at three and a half, but he's still one of the better pitchers in baseball.