March 4, 2015

CVU alpine skiers state meet bound 

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By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

Next up for the Champlain Valley Union High Alpine ski team: the state interscholastic meets at Bromley Mountain Monday and Okemo Mountain Resort Tuesday.

Coach Mike Minnerly’s Redhawks concluded their two-event district competition Tuesday with the giant slalom at Middlebury Snow Bowl.

CVU’s boys team won the overall two-day team event in the 13-team field. The Redhawk girls took third behind winner Harwood Union and runner-up South Burlington High.

The victorious boys team was led Tuesday by Nate Coffin (third), Ted Hadley (ninth) and Trent Smith (10th).

Abby Harrington (fifth) and Emma Putre (seventh) were the leading CVU giant slalom performers.

CVU gymnasts are third in state meet 

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By Mal Boright 
Observer correspondent

As expected, a deep and talented top-seeded Essex High gymnastics team rolled to its 10th straight Vermont championship Saturday, while an injury-plagued second-seeded Champlain Valley Union High team wound up in third place.

The Redhawks were nosed out of their usual runner-up slot by a young South Burlington High team. The Essex team’s winning points total was 144.42 to South Burlington’s 130.4 and CVU’s 128.95. Eight teams competed.

Sophomore Kylie Svarczkopf of the Hornets was the all-around champion after victories on the bars, balance beam and vault.

If that last name is familiar, there is a reason. Kylie’s sister Kayla was the all-around champ last year.

CVU was without top performer freshman Emma Lieberman (hand injury), and Julia Higa was dealing with a troublesome ankle. The Redhawks were led by Jackie Casson, who was fourth on the bars and sixth in all-around.

Co-captain Taylor Filardi was the lone senior on the CVU squad, with Lieberman one of four freshmen on the roster.

CVU boys hockey team in title defense

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By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

The defending Division 1 Champlain Valley Union High boys hockey team opened defense of its crown Wednesday night (Observer press time) on its home Cairns Arena ice against Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans.

The two teams finished the regular campaign with 12-7-1 with CVU snagging the home ice of the number four seed, thanks in part to a 2-1 Cairns Arena victory over the Bobwhites Jan. 31. BFA had whipped the Redhawks in an early-season encounter in St. Albans and held the fifth seed.

Wednesday’s winner would meet the victor of a match the same evening between top-seeded Essex High (16-1-3) and eighth-seeded Rice Memorial (6-14-1). The Green Knights gained the quarterfinals with a 5-0 Saturday playdown win over North Country Union.

CVU tangled with the Essex Hornets twice during the season and lost 2-1 on both occasions, including the regular season finale a week ago Wednesday.

The Hornets, playing at home, grabbed a 2-0 first period lead. Matt Palmer scored in the second reel to get the Redhawks within a goal, but the equalizer never came.

Shots on goal were nearly even as CVU netminder Greg Talbert had 24 stops while Essex’s Erik Short was called on for 21 saves.

Upstart CVU hoop guys eye Rutland next

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By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

Having shocked fifth-seeded Middlebury Union High Tuesday night in the opening round of the Division 1 playoffs, coach Mike Osborne and his 12th-seeded Champlain Valley Union High Redhawks will travel to Rutland Friday night at 7 p.m. for a collision with fourth-seeded 18-3 Rutland High.

The Red Raiders earned their way to the quarterfinal with a 62-44 home triumph over 13th-seeded Mount Anthony Union Tuesday.

Rutland’s showcase effort this season was a January win at Rice Memorial, the number one-seeded Green Knights’ lone loss.

CVU, now 10-11, rumbled to the victory over the Tigers, racking up a 15-point lead over the first 16 minutes and cruising from there.

Sophomore guard Walker Storey, who has blossomed into a solid all-around performer, led CVU with 18 points. Senior co-captain Chris Reiss was his usual prominent self with 17.

The rare CVU playoff victory ended Middlebury’s season at 16-5.

In the regular season finale last Friday at Jericho Center, the Redhawks bowed to then 15-5 Mount Mansfield Union, 50-43. The Cougars’ chief liquidator of CVU hopes was the athletic forward Alec Eschholz, who swished 24 points and tore 15 rebounds off the glass.

Storey and Nick Lynn knocked down nine points each for the Hawks.

Redhawks and Rice set for annual tourney contest

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By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

For three winters now, the defending Champlain Union High girls’ basketball team and Rice Memorial High have collided in the Division 1 championship game at the University of Vermont’s Roy L. Patrick Gymnasium, with CVU winning the last two.

Saturday, the 22-0 Redhawks and 15-6 Green Knights will once again engage in an exchange of baskets on the UVM court, this year in a semifinal battle. Game time is 5 p.m. with the winner going to next week’s title test against the victor of a 7 p.m. clash between Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans (19-3) and Essex High (17-5).

Sharp memories remain of the championship goings-on last March, when the 24-0 Redhawks nipped 21-3 Rice on two free throws in the final seconds by Amanda Lougee, one of six seniors graduated from CVU.

Rice lost three starters from that squad, including Hailee Barron, a four-year standout guard.

The Redhawks, who have won 69 straight games since bowing to the Knights in the championship match three years ago, got past Rice twice during the regular season. CVU won 47-35 Dec. 19 at the Knights’ castle, and then scored a 49-29 triumph Jan. 8 at Bremner Gymnsium.

The Redhawks bolted their way to the semifinal with a first round 49-17 smackdown of Spaulding High. Last Saturday, in a quarterfinal, CVU surged past 14-8 Brattleboro Union High, 60-27.

Rice bopped Colchester High 65-26 in the opening round before knocking out Rutland High 36-26 in Saturday’s quarterfinal. Guard Sierra Combs with 15 points and forward Rachel Chicoine with nine paced Rice scorers.

In repelling Brattleboro’s invasion from deep southern Vermont, the Redhawks struck in the first few minutes with one of their best quarters of the year. They dropped nine of 16 shots through the cords while producing five Colonel turnovers, coughing up the ball only once themselves.

The scene and the difficult immediate Brattleboro future were set as CVU opened the game with a 12-point run. The rout began on guard Caitlin Grasso’s layup on a pass from backcourt mate Sadie Otley, who picked off the game-opening tap. (Two quick points following the winning of the opening center jump has become a CVU expectation.)

Amanda Daniels followed up with a thee-point blast after a pass from Grasso. Then came a Laurel Jaunich layup, all occurring while the visitors were desperately trying to find their offensive end of the court.

The Redhawks rolled up leads of 24-8 by the end of the initial eight minutes and 35-14 by halftime.

For the game, CVU shot 45 percent (24 of 53) from the floor and held a 34-18 edge in rebounds. The perplexed Colonels were 9-43 from the field for 21 percent. The CVU trapping defenses resulted in 18 Colonel turnovers.

Jaunich and Otley canned 17 points each to lead the scorers and did it with little more than a half of playing time each. Annabella Pugliese popped eight points and hauled down a team-leading eight rebounds. Jaunich grabbed six rebounds, as did reserve Amari Boyd.

Grasso had six points and some of everything else including four steals, four assists and a pair of rebounds.

Brattleboro’s scoring leader was guard Abbie Lesure with eight points, including a pair of treys.