Feb. 25, 2010
By Mal Boright
After completing their first 15-victory regular season since 2000, the 15-5 Champlain Valley Union High boys basketball team had a first round home Division 1 playoff round against 12-8 Spaulding High of Barre on Wednesday night. A win would allow the Redhawks to advance in the quarterfinals.
Success against the Crimson Tide would put the Redhawks against second-seeded, 17-3 Essex High at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the Hornets’ nest. CVU scored a pulsating 58-54 win at Essex a couple of weeks ago to even the season series at 1-1.
Coach Scott Bliss’ unit was seeded seventh. Spaulding, seeded 10th, nipped the Hawks 62-57 in early January in Barre.
Top Division 1 seed went, as expected, to 19-1 Burlington High, which pulled out a 51-44 triumph over CVU on Friday night at Bremner Gymnasium.
With 38 seconds to go, the Redhawks had the ball under their basket and trailed just 46-44. But a bobble on a pass-in turned the sphere back to the Seahorses and their captain Joe O’Shea sank five of six charity shots to clinch the win.
A 6-foot-4 guard, O’Shea was the triggerman for Burlington.
The Redhawks led 24-19 at the half and 33-31 entering the final reel when the veteran BHS star took charge and unloaded 11 points.
His long bomb from the side put Burlington up 34-33 and, moments later, another trey from out front put BHS ahead for good, 40-38. CVU, led by Jake Donnelly, twice got back to within a point but the Seahorses made their free throws to maintain the lead.
O’Shea finished with 25 points after CVU defenders, led by Chris Nigh, held him to two hits in seven tries and six points in the first half. It was obvious that O’Shea — lean, fast and athletic — can be contained, but only for a while.
Donnelly finished with 19 points and six-for-12 from the floor and seven-of-nine at the line. Despite a sore left arm (his shooting iron), center Will Hurd hit five-of-eight from the floor for 13 points, including a trio of treys.
Along with O’Shea, Burlington had 6-foot-5 Jackson Grady and 6-foot-5 Mackenzie Heimert on its front line. That assortment of redwoods packed defensively around the hoop gave CVU problems for its usually effective drives to the hoop.
“It was the biggest front line we’ve seen this year,” Donnelly said.
But the Redhawks were right there at the end and for the second time this season (the first a 56-50 loss at BHS) proved they can play with the number one seed.
BHS 12 7 12 20 – 51
CVU 10 14 9 11 – 44
Burlington High (19-1)
O'Shea 7-16 7-9 25, Heimert 1-5 0-0 3, Grady 3-7 2-2 8, Dailey 1-1 2-2 4, Corriveau 2-8 1-2 6, Zabili 0-1 0-0 0, Vachereau 1-4 0-1 3, Rodgers 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 16-45 12-16 51.
Nigh 0-1 0-0 0, Rensch 1-2 0-0 2, Hurd 5-8 0-4 13, Hart 0-0 0-0 0, Beaton 0-1 0-2 0, Donnelly 6-12 7-9 19, Russ 3-7 2-2 8, Clayton 1-1 0-0 2, Gale 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-32 9-17 44.