By Mal Boright
The foes get more robust and the schedule gets NBA-like condensed as the 10-0 defending Division 1 champion Champlain Valley Union High girls’ basketball team enters the second half of the regular season at home Thursday night (7 p.m.).
Rolling into Bremner Gymnasium will be 6-4 Burlington High. The Seahorses had high expectations for the season but recently have been hit by injuries. They bowed at home to Rice Memorial High 59-39 Friday night. BHS hiked its record to 7-4 Monday night with an easy 46-21 triumph at 2-7 North Country Union High.
Rice, 9-1, will play host to the Redhawks Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. The Green Knights have not lost since getting ripped 52-32 by CVU on Dec. 27 in Hinesburg.
Coach Ute Otley’s Hawks then begin a compressed three-games-a-week routine Monday, when St. Johnsbury Academy shows up at the Hinesburg hoop house.
The latest victory for CVU came Friday night. It was a bruising defensive struggle with 7-3 Essex High that the Redhawks finally put away with a late 10-2 run, cementing a 49-34 decision.
The post-exam-week contest was not necessarily pretty, but as Otley observed after the contest, some of these players had been up late all week hitting the books to prepare for tests.
The shooting showed it for both teams. CVU, usually close to 50 percent from the floor in recent home outings, fell off to 14-for-39, just under 36 percent. Essex was a tad better, knocking in 41 percent, or 14 of 34 shots.
The Hornets had their defensive A game going, but paid a price for it, as CVU got to the charity stripe for 37 shots, making a somewhat mediocre 20. However, that was well up on Essex, which was awarded but 13 free flips and bagged only four.
Down, 13-11 after the first quarter, CVU went to the mobocracy defense and limited the Hornets to a trickle of eight shots and two baskets in the second period for a 22-17 advantage at intermission.
The Redhawks held the lead for the remainder of the game but were unable to put it away until the late stages of the final reel when they swished 12 of 18 free throws on what had been an unusually difficult evening at the freebie place.
CVU had a 25-20 advantage on the boards but it was hard work.
“Yes, it was tough,” said Amanda Beatty of the war on the boards. The senior put in a rock solid night with a game-high 16 points and six rebounds.
“Tough,” agreed center Laurel Jaunich, who had nine grabs off the glass in elbow country to go with 11 points and four steals.
Emily Kinneston snared 11 points to go with two assists, two rebounds and two steals, while Sadie Otley had eight points, three rebounds, three assists and a pair of thefts.
Center Kara Sheftic, hampered by foul trouble, and Mychaela Harton led Essex with seven points each. Sydney Duncan had six. Duncan and Sheftic fouled out in the final minute.
The CVU junior varsity lifted its record to 10-0 with a 67-16 rout of the Little Hornets.