By Mal Boright
It was not easy at Burlington High Tuesday night, but the Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team escaped with a final-second 49-47 victory and will take a 9-0 record to North Country Union in Newport on Friday.
The Falcons fell 27-20 to St. Johnsbury Academy Tuesday. CVU clubbed the Hilltoppers 60-24 at home Saturday afternoon.
Following the journey north, the Redhawks will make the short trek to Essex High on Tuesday for the season’s first showdown with the 9-1 Hornets.
There were chills and thrills at Burlington, where the 6-3 Seahorses, after trailing by as much as 11 points in the third quarter, rallied in the fourth quarter to force a nerve-pulsing final two minutes that included four lead changes before CVU freshman Laurel Jaunich sank a 10-foot baseline jumper at the closing buzzer.
The final shot came after BHS’s tough center Ilona Maher (eight points, 11 rebounds) had tied the contest at 47-all with one of two free throws with 19.3 seconds remaining.
Following a time out, CVU moved the ball into the forecourt to Emily Kinneston (12 points, four assists). Kinneston drove into the foul line, drew a double team, and then calmly passed inside to the unguarded Jaunich, who quickly fired up the winner.
Kinneston after the game agreed that when she lured the defense, instinct took over and she got the deft pass to the open Jaunich.
CVU had taken a 40-32 edge early in the fourth quarter thanks to a trapping defense that had kept the Seahorses off balance, plus poor BHS shooting (eight-for-41) through the first three periods.
Burlington went to a press, forcing two steals with resulting successful layups that fueled a 12-2 run that gave the Seahorses a 44-42 lead with two minutes to go.
CVU’s Kaelyn Kohlasch (17 points, three assists) sank a crucial three-pointer at 1:40, and the Redhawks retook the advantage. Kohlasch had a final-reel hot hand with nine points.
BHS’s Kaitlin Garrison put the ‘Horses back in the lead with a rebound shot with inside of a minute remaining, only to have Jaunich respond from underneath, the first of her two huge final-minute baskets. Jaunich finished with six points and three rebounds, plus an assist.
Burlington’s muscular game under the glass gave CVU problems on the boards and a 29-22 edge in grabs. The Hawks’ Amanda Beatty hauled down six rebounds to pace the winners’ inside operations.
The Redhawks had things mostly their way against St. Johnsbury on Saturday with all hands participating in a blowout win. CVU got off to a 33-9 halftime lead, then eased to the victory, forcing 26 turnovers from the visitors. Nine Redhawks scored, including Kinneston’s 15 points, Kohlasch’s nine and Jaunich’s eight.
Coach Kathy Kohlasch’s junior varsity hiked its record to 9-0 with a 37-25 triumph over St. Johnsbury and a 38-28 win at Burlington.