By Mal Boright
The rocking and rolling defending Division 1 champion Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team will try to put the wraps on a perfect 20-0 regular season Friday night at St. Johnsbury Academy.
In their previous meeting at CVU’s Bremner Gymnasium Jan. 27, Coach Ute Otley’s Redhawks earned a 46-20 triumph.
Historically, however, the Hilltoppers have been a tough test on their home court in the Northeast Kingdom.
The Redhawks got tested by a fired up Burlington High quintet Tuesday in the Queen City before emerging with a 61-36 win, their 42nd straight over the past two seasons.
“They gave us a time,” said senior guard Kaelyn Kohlasch of the Seahorses, who hung around until Kohlasch applied two three-point grenades late in the third period that disabled the Seahorses’ bandwagon. BHS was down 46-33 after Kohlasch’s second blast.
A fourth quarter 15-1 run by CVU put BHS away as Kohlasch scored a pair of hoops and running mate sophomore guard Sadie Otley buried a trey and four free throws. The two guards had just an Otley free throw in the first half, from which the Redhawks took a somewhat shaky 30-23 edge.
Kohlasch finished with 12 points, one of three to make that mark in the balanced CVU offense. Otley had 10 points with six assists and five steals to pace the klepto kids.
Hardworking center-ball handler Ilona Maher led Burlington with 11 points while quick forward Sha’Kylah Morris had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Center Laurel Jaunich got 12 points and seven rebounds for CVU, while inside sidekick Amanda Beatty also had seven rebounds to go with nine points. Emily Kinneston had 12 points with at least three assists, three rebounds and two steals.
The Redhawks’ defense created 24 Burlington turnovers, which held its shot total to 38, of which the Seahorses hit 13. CVU went 24-for-50, just a tad under 50 percent.
Coach Cathy Kohlasch’s 19-0 junior varsity scored a 55-22 victory in the prelim.
DEFENSE DINGS PATRIOTS
Saturday afternoon’s Senior Day saw the five departing seniors lead a demolishing of the usually running and gunning Mount Anthony quintet that had strolled into the Hinesburg gym with a glossy 13-3 record.
But the offensive-minded Patriots got quickly discombobulated by the Redhawks’ in-your-face defense that held the visitors to just eight baskets in 41 tries. CVU swished 29-of-65 shots after forcing 26 Patriot turnovers, 17 in the first half when the final outcome was decided.
Yes, Mount Anthony was running, but it was the Redhawks who were gunning, and very effectively.
CVU hiked a 24-14 first period margin to 47-21 by halftime and then outscored the Patriots 15-1 to open the third quarter, after which the proverbial chubby person could be heard singing.
The seniors were all prominent in the final figures. Kinneston and Beatty each put up 14 points with Kinneston hauling in six rebounds and Beatty four. Kohlasch fired in nine points and passed off for six assists.
Senior Amanda Lougee had six points, Jenna Brassard four, and Kestrel Grevatt a hoop to go with three assists and two rebounds.
Jaunich hit for 13 points and picked off 12 rebounds, while junior guard Caitlin Grasso struck for four points, four steals, three assists and three rebounds.
EARLY DECISION AT ESSEX
The Hornets may have been fired up by the CVU visit Thursday, but it was not until the second half that any stingers appeared, and by then there was no contest remaining.
Again, boosted by their defensive pilfer people, the Redhawks were calmly efficient on offense. With seven players scoring, the Red and White rolled up an 18-0 lead by the end of the opening reel, holding Essex to nine fruitless shots from the floor.
The Hornets went scoreless until 5 minutes and 43 seconds remaining in the first half when center Kara Sheftic (10 points, 13 rebounds) connected from underneath and out of a crowd. By then, CVU had a 24-0 edge.
After the Hornets added a pair of free throws by Taylor Truax (six points), CVU went on a 9-0 run and carried a 35-10 advantage into the halftime discussions.
Sheftic scored eight of her points and grabbed eight rebounds in the closing 16 minutes but a somewhat revived Essex team never got closer than within 22 points.
Kinneston and Jaunich were CVU’s leading scorers, with 12 points apiece. Jaunich added seven rebounds and two steals, while Kinneston had another busy, busy night with four rebounds, five assists and six thefts.
On one second period play, Kinneston leaped to grab an Essex pass in its frontcourt, dribbled to a backcourt Essex defender and then around her with a deft behind the back change-of-direction dribble, and after a few more steps, passed to an alert, fast moving Kohlasch for an easy layup.
It was just one of many special plays the instinctive Kinneston makes each game.
Kohlasch finished with nine points, while Lougee had a solid night with eight points and five rebounds.
CVU hit 21 of 47 shots while Essex went 9-for-41.
The unbeaten junior varsity whipped Essex 52-23 and Mount Anthony, 74-22.