By Mal Boright
With the number one Division 1 playoff seeding in place following Tuesday’s 51-43 victory at 17-2 Rice Memorial High, coach Ute Otley’s rampaging Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team hopes to close out a first-ever perfecto regular season Friday night, with 7-12 Spaulding High the opposition at Bremner Gym.
No doubt about it: the Crimson Tide knows well it could add luster to its campaign by handing the 19-0 Redhawks a whipping. Tuesday, Spaulding bowed to Essex High, 52-27.
Defending division champ Rice had similar hopes Tuesday at a packed Bill Hammond gymnasium in South Burlington, but the Redhawks survived some chilly early shooting to take charge following intermission for their second win of the season over the Green Knights.
With CVU trailing 20-19 early in the second half, freshman inside operator Laurel Jaunich warmed to the situation. After nailing two free flips to put the Hawks up 21-20, she hit five straight shots as the Red and White swished nine of 13 in the quarter to take charge, Jaunich ending the frame with a cool three-pointer for a 40-32 advantage.
Jaunich’s 13 points in the quarter were her total for the game, to go with four rebounds plus a steal. Rice never completely recovered from the freshman’s key outburst, but the Knights did threaten, big center Cassidy Durda the primary weapon.
After hitting just seven of 29 shots in the first half (“It seemed worse than that,” said Otley), CVU bucketed nine of 13 shots in the key third quarter. After hiking the lead to 44-32 early in the final reel, CVU held on by notching nine of 12 from the foul line, with Sadie Otley going four-for-four and Emily Kinneston (11 points, six rebounds, two assists) hitting three of four.
While it was Jaunich stepping up big time in the third quarter, things looked dire for a cold CVU in the second period before Elspeth Grasso, along with Alex Krupp the two senior guard Mighty-Minis, got a hot hand to pull the Hawks out of the shooting doldrums.
With her team trailing 12-6 and just two-for-12 from the floor—winter had indeed set in—Grasso launched a big three, followed with a rebound layup. After a shocked Rice team took a time out to talk over this sudden turn of events, Grasso knocked down another trey and CVU was up 14-12.
Grasso later sank another rebound shot (she grabbed five bounds in the game) and CVU had its offensive mojo back and was in the game. Grasso had 10 points in the reel, her game total.
“That was big for us,” said Otley of the speedy little guard’s vital burst.
Grasso, with a big smile, nodded “yes” when asked if she got into “the zone” in the second quarter.
Rice got 19 points and eight rebounds from Durda, who kept the Knights in contention with 12 second-half points. Forward Allie Doe got eight points.
CVU edged Rice on the boards 27-26 after the Knights controlled in the first period, 10-5. Amanda Beatty had five rebounds to follow Kinneston and Grasso.
Last Friday, CVU outlasted visiting Essex High, 44-34 behind Kinneston’s 14 points and center Taylor Goldsborough’s nine (count ‘em, nine) steals to go with seven rebounds.
A sportswriter wag suggested to the senior Goldsborough that there was a five-state alarm out looking for the thief of nine basketballs.
Coach Cathy Kohlasch’s rollicking JVs lifted their unbeaten mark to 19-0 with 48-21 and 49-32 triumphs over Essex and Rice.
Girls Basketball Box Score (Feb. 26)
CVU (51) — Lougee, 0 0-0 0; Kinneston, 4 3-4 11; Beatty, 1 1-2 3; Krupp, 0 0-0 0; Grasso, 4 0-0 10; Otley, 1 4-4 7; Jaunich, 5 2-3 13; Kohlasch, 2 2-2 6; Goldsborough, 0 1-3 1. Totals: 17 13-18 51
Rice Memorial (43) — Akinpetide, 1 0-2 2; Doe, 4 0-0 8; Durda, 9 0-0 19; Bunch, 0 0-2 0; Hetling, 0 0-0 0; Snell, 0 2-3 2; Avonda, 0 0-2 0; Barron, 3 1-2 7; Cirignano, 1 0-0 2; Zuk, 0 0-0 0; Bolger, 1 0-0 3 Totals: 19 3-11 43
CVU 5 14 21 11 – 51
Rice 10 8 14 11 – 43