Dec. 18, 2008
By Mal Boright
When undefeated (4-0) South Burlington High rolled into Bremner Gymnasium on Tuesday night, Champlain Valley Union High boys basketball coach Scott Bliss might have felt a little apprehensive.
His 2-1 Redhawks were a work in progress and he was still nettled as to how an 18-point lead Friday night at Missisquoi Valley Union fell to a mere five before his team rallied for a 60-48 victory.
But whatever lessons Bliss gave his team Monday stuck, as the Hawks turned a gritty and persistent defense plus a cool patience on offense into a 55-42 win over the at times befuddled Rebels.
“Our defense was not quite there in the first quarter,” Bliss said after the noisy (big crowd) victory. “But after that, with the exception of early in the third quarter, it was good.”
How good? The Redhawks nose-to-nose quarter-court hustle held South Burlington to just two shots at the hoop and no baskets in the second quarter, turning an 11-10 lead at the end of the first period into a 29-21 halftime advantage.
For the game, South Burlington fired just 31 shots and hit 10, only three from beyond the three-point arc. The Redhawks, on the other end, flipped up a more normal 54 shots and canned 19, one of those a trey by senior guard Paul Poirier on CVU’s first shot of the game.
South Burlington’s primary point production came from the foul line, where it notched 19 of 31 tries, including 11 of 16 in the second reel to keep the game close. CVU committed 15 fouls in the first half, but judicious use of the bench by Bliss kept the principals out of serious foul trouble.
Offensively, CVU moved the ball with great coolness against multiple South Burlington defenses.
“They were fantastic,” said Bliss of the patience shown by his Hawks.
John Donnelly led the Redhawks’ scorers with 21 points, notching 12 in the game-changing second quarter with some adept power moves to the hoop. He also collected 12 rebounds in helping his team to a 34-18 advantage on the all-important boards.
Jack Jesset fired in 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds with an effective inside-out game.
Forward Chris Nigh (six points) and guard Jordan Duke (three points, three rebounds) got high marks from Bliss for their efforts in reserve roles.
Jake Donnelly had just two points, but his five rebounds and defensive work, which included a pair of steals, were huge.
The Rebels’ last gasp came early in the final quarter, when they closed the gap to 39-36 and appeared to be set to make a run. A Duke driving layup ended that sequence and started a CVU nine-point burst. The defense produced four Rebel turnovers and kept them off the board until Taylor Kaczor swished two charity shots with 1:48 left, the Redhawks’ lead by then a solid 48-38.
Junior guard Mark Mallory paced South Burlington with 16 points, hitting five of seven shots from the field.
Coach Seth Emerson’s junior varsity five hiked its record to 3-1 with a 42-37 win over the Little Rebs.
Next up for the Redhawks is a Friday night trip to 6-0 Burlington High, which is on a 30-game winning streak.
South Burlington (42)
Dubuque 2 2-2 7, Mallory 5 4-7 16, Varney 1 4-5 6, Kaczor 0 4-8 4, Nedd 2 5-9 9, Chu 0 0-0 0, Chichester 0 0-0 0, Corbiere 0 0-0 0, Cassidy 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 19-31 42.
Jesset 5 4-7 14, Ja. Donnelly 1 0-0 2, Jo. Donnelly 8 5-6 21, Poirier 3 0-0 7, Beaton 0 0-0 0, Bunbury 0 2-2 2, Duke 1 1-2 3, Nigh 1 4-4 6, Hurd 0 0-3 0, Russ 0 0-0 0, Rensch 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 16-24 55.
South Burlington 10 11 11 10 — 42
CVU 11 18 10 16 — 55