Dec. 17, 2009
By Mal Boright
Helped by solid shooting and prickly defense, the Champlain Valley Union High boys basketball team will take a season-opening, four-game winning streak to Swanton on Thursday night for a rematch with the Missisquoi Union High Thunderbirds.
The Redhawks rapped Missisquoi 65-46 last Thursday at Bremner Gymnasium, the start of a two-game home stand that ended Monday night with a 59-38 triumph over Vergennes Union High.
Coach Scott Bliss and his hungry Hawks return home Wednesday to face a challenging Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans aggregation at 7 p.m.
A staple of the two home victories has been an ability to find the nets. The Redhawks fired at a 49 percent clip (21-for-43) in rolling over Missisquoi. After a chilly 5-for-19 in the first quarter against Vergennes, they kicked it up a notch to tickle the twine at 53 percent over the final three periods for a 44 percent (22-for-50) game.
Like most coaches, Bliss loves tough defense. His Hawks held Missisquoi to 37 percent from the field (16-for-42) and then tightened things up Monday, limiting the Commodores to but 11 hits in 39 pops, a lowly 28 percent.
Though never in the lead, Vergennes hung around through most of the first half before Jake Donnelly (20 points) nailed a trey at 1:34 to help elevate the Redhawks to a 28-19 edge at intermission.
In the third quarter, whippet guard Chris Beaton, who sat out the second reel, took charge with a remarkable assortment of goodies that included three assists, two steals, a rebound and a slick driving layup through the massed Commodores.
Robert Russ, who turned in a solid night with 14 points and 10 rebounds, went 3-for-3 from the field in the period and CVU shot out to a 43-25 lead by the start of the fourth quarter.
Vergennes, now 2-4, was never able to mount a challenge after that.
Connor Merrill, its 6-foot-6 center, led the visitors with 15 points, but was held to three hoops in 12 shots from the floor by the Redhawks’ swarming interior defenders.
Hurd pours in points against Missisquoi
In the victory over Missisquoi, CVU inside guy Will Hurd had hot hands from downtown. The veteran senior nailed 7 of 9 trey attempts as he chalked up 23 points to go with seven rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Despite early 9-0 and 12-2 leads, CVU encountered a first half insurrection from the Thunderbirds. Led by freshman whiz Matt St. Amour (four threebies and 14 points), Missisquoi came back to tie the game at 16 and trailed just 33-28 at the half.
But St. Amour picked up his fourth personal foul with 2:34 remaining in the third quarter as the Redhawks were putting some defensive clamps on the visiting Birds.
With Hurd continuing his assault from afar and Donnelly (18 points) emerging from a quiet first half, CVU outscored Missisquoi 14-7 in the stanza and took control in the finale with the moves-to-the-hoop Donnelly going 7-for-11 from the charity stripe.
Beaton had a strong effort from the point guard slot, nailing nine points to go with four assists, four rebounds and a theft.
Among efficient performers off the pine was Mark Clayton, who tossed his weight around for seven points, three rebounds and three steals.
Vergennes 8 11 6 13 – 38
CVU 13 15 15 16 – 59
Vergennes Union High (38)
Williams 4-10 3-4 12, Bushee 0-3 0-0 0, Merrill 3-12 9-10 15, Brooks 1-2 0-2 2, Carter 0-6 0-0 0, VanDeWeert 3-3 0-0 7, Dugan 0-2 1-2 1, Stapleford 0-1 1-2 1, Firlik 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-39 14-20 38.
Donnelly 7-18 5-7 20, Nigh 1-1 0-0 3, Hurd 2-8 2-2 6, Russ 6-10 2-4 14, Beaton 2-4 2-2 6, Hart 0-1 0-0 0, Gale 0-2 0-0 0, Rensch 2-2 0-1 4, Leckerling 0-0 0-0 0, Clayton 2-2 0-0 4, Karnes 0-0 1-2 1, Pierson 0 2 0-0 0, Boland 0-0 0-1 0, Spencer 0-0 1-3 1. Totals 22-50 13-22 59.