Feb. 25, 2010
By Mal Boright
The game was over, the advance to the Division 1 semifinals at the University of Vermont’s Roy L. Patrick Gymnasium belonged to underdog St. Johnsbury, and still the 2009-2010 edition of the Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team did not depart from Bremner Gym until long after most others had left.
Despite Saturday afternoon’s 40-37 defeat at the hands of a 9-13, Cinderella-like Hilltopper five, the Redhawks finished a solid 17-5 campaign that far exceeded many preseason expectations. No one wanted it to end.
St. Johnsbury, in the midst of a rise from the nether-land of a low seed (12th) to the division’s final four for a second straight season, contained CVU’s offense with a stifling defense and played loose and within itself in front of a large and raucous band of supporters.
The fourth-seeded home team’s only lead was 1-0 on a Shae Hulbert free throw in the opening minute. The Hilltoppers opened a 12-4 edge by the end of the first period as CVU, appearing somewhat tight, hit only one of seven shots. Nine turnovers in the physical contest contributed disruption to an offense struggling to get into gear.
St. Johnsbury was not exactly an unstoppable offensive force against a tough CVU defense, but the Hilltoppers were able to sink five treys at opportune times to stay in front by six to seven points before the Redhawks made a late charge that nearly turned matters around.
Down 37-29 and apparently out of it with 1:40 remaining, coach Stan Williams’ gritty crew created a furious rally, started by an Allison Gannon put back at 1:37.
Two free throws by St. Jay’s Adama Kay (14 points) put the Green Clads back up 39-31 with 50.5 seconds showing.
Game over, right?
Wrong, stated CVU’s Carlee Evans with a three-point bomb at 35.4 seconds to get the Redhawks to within five points.
Moments later, after a Hilltopper turnover, Kendal Kohlash, who assisted on Evans’ trey, got the ball to Gannon in the corner. Gannon knocked down another threebie that cut the lead to 39-37 and forced St. Jay to call a timeout with 15.8 seconds left.
When play resumed, the Hawks had to foul and sent Britney Lane to the line to make one of two for the 40-37 lead. A CVU three-point try at the buzzer fail to connect.
It was the final appearances for the Redhawks’ senior co-captains Gannon and Kohlasch. Both had strong games with Kohlasch (10 points, 3 assists, 2 steals) providing a strong floor game. Gannon, heavily defended, had 10 points and four rebounds, exploding for eight of her points and three rebounds in the fourth quarter comeback.
Hulbert, a junior, also contributed 10 points to go with a game-leading eight rebounds.
St. Johnsbury held a serious advantage on the glass (26-20 for the game) and in bagging loose basketballs until the fourth period, when the Redhawks collected an 8-4 edge in rebounding.
ST. J 12 6 10 12 – 40
CVU 4 9 9 15 – 37
St. Johnsbury Academy (9-13)
Calkins 1-2 2-2 4, Regis 1-5 0-0 3, Kay 5-13 3-7 14, Bruckner 0-0 0-0 0, Lane 3-8 5-6 13, Moran 1-6 1-1 3, Rowe 1-5 0-0 3, Driscoll 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 12-40 11-16 40.
Kohlasch 3-8 3-7 10, Hulbert 3-7 4-6 10, Gannon 4-12 1-3 10, Evans 1-1 2-2 5, Kinneston 1-3 0-2 2, Donnelly 0-1 0-0 0, Bayer-Pacht 0-3 0-0 0, Schenk 0-0 0-0 0, Hawley 0-0 0-0 0, Giles 0-0 0-0 0, Riordan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-35 10-20 37.