By Mal Boright
The Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team made its third postseason trip in four years Wednesday (Observer press time) to the University of Vermont’s Roy L. Patrick Gymnasium to meet Essex High, the winner to go for the Vermont Division 1 crown Saturday (7 p.m.), also at UVM.
A victory Wednesday meant the championship contest against either second-seeded Rice Memorial High or third-seeded Colchester High, both with 17-5 records.
The semifinal meeting with fifth-seeded 16-6 Essex was the third of the season for the top-seeded 18-3 Redhawks, who had trimmed the Hornets 46-34 at home in January and 44-37 last month at Essex.
Essex made its way to UVM by going to Rutland High last Friday and bopping the fourth-seeded Raiders 62-41 in a quarterfinal as CVU was putting away 13-9 Bellows Free Academy 39-32 at Hinesburg.
Looking ahead to the semifinals, CVU coach Ute Otley said, “We are going to play our game, which recently we had gotten away from a bit.”
BFA got a good dose of the Redhawks’ game, which limited the Comets to but 10 baskets in 47 attempts, a modest 21 percent clip. BFA was also victimized by 22 turnovers, which further crippled its offense. “We played good defense,” said Otley.
CVU also won the vital battle of the boards as center Remi Donnelly hauled down 14 rebounds to go with nine points and two assists. Elana Bayer-Pacht again patrolled the entire floor and collected eight rebounds and added two steals, an assist and tie-up.
Lazrin Schenck bounded off the bench to contribute six rebounds, an assist, a pair of steals and blocked a BFA shot.
Scoring leader was Emily Kinneston with 15 points and a four-for-four from the free throw line when things got a tad hairy in the fourth quarter. She also participated in four thefts.
BFA’s only lead came moments after intermission when the Comets struck for five points to turn a halftime 18-14 deficit into a 19-18 advantage.
Led by Donnelly’s four points and four rebounds, the Redhawks recovered to take a 28-20 lead into the final quarter.
However, coach Glenn Johnson’s Comets are never easy to put away. They stayed within five or six points of the ‘Hawks, who were helped by hitting nine of 10 free throws in the closing eight minutes after an absymal two for 10 in the first half.
Also pitching in for CVU at key moments were guards Sofia Lozon with six points and four assists and Kaelyn Kohlasch with five points and five rebounds plus a pair of steals.
Senior Chelsea Abbott paced BFA with seven points and eight rebounds.