By Mal Boright
Coach Scott Bliss and his Champlain Valley Union High boys’ basketball team close out a somewhat disappointing regular season Thursday night with a trip to 2-17 North Country Union High in Newport.
It’s an opportunity to reload the optimism after six straight losses, with the Division 1 playoffs opening early next week and the Redhawks likely to be on the road against a top-seeded team.
CVU stands 8-11 as the bus warms up for the 70-plus miles of asphalt after an up-and-down campaign with starters in and out of the lineup. The season opened with three straight losses with veteran forward Brad Bissonette missing due to illness. Then, with Bissonette back, came a surge to 8-5.
Then the shot-making went far north—beyond Iceland—and six straight defeats in which points were tough to get took place, including a 51-49 overtime stunner at home last Thursday to 4-14 Colchester High.
Monday night, the Redhawks tossed icebergs at the hoop for the first three periods in a 73-42 popping at 11-8 Essex High, a team the Hawks nudged 58-55 last month at Bremner Gymnasium.
Hitting just nine of 38 (23 percent) of their shots through those three quarters, the Hawks recovered slightly in the fourth stanza, when reserve forward Ryan Schneiderman exploded off the bench and hit three of four inside layups out of a crowd as CVU bagged five of 10 through the late eight minutes.
Out of the lineup was starter Scott Bissonette with shoulder problems.
Essex, in the meantime, got hot on its senior night, the Hornets ripping the cords on 26 of 44 attempts, a searing 55 percent showing. Leading was smooth senior forward Tommy Carton, carrying an average of close to 20 points. The veteran nailed seven of 12 tries in the field, a perfecto eight-for-eight from the free throw line and also worked the glass for a haul of 19 rebounds in about three periods of play.
Carton had help from quick guard Billy McGrath with 16 points and forward Luke Salerno with 11.
Brad Bissonette had a solid game for CVU, pumping in 17 points thanks to some slick moves while adding four rebounds and an assist, but with the exception of Schneiderman, there were no other hot hands.
The Hornets, with Carton dropping 18 points and taking down 11 rebounds—10 in the second period—led 39-22 by halftime.
Colchester nipped the Redhawks in overtime after the Lakers’ Ricky Giroux canned a three-point try at the buzzer ending regulation. Giroux had 24 tallies in the contest.
Brad Bissonette paced the Hawks with 13 points, while Zack Evans turned up the heat from the deep, bagging four treys for his 12 points.