Donnelly helps Vermont triumph in twin state hoop match (7/16/09)

July 16, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Former Champlain Valley Union High basketball star John Donnelly and his 13 Vermont teammates were all smiles late Saturday afternoon, and for good reason. They had just soundly whipped the New Hampshire stars 96-85 in the Annual Merchants Bank-Rotary Twin State Classic at the University of Vermont’s Roy L. Patrick Gymnasium.


    File photo by Ben Sarle
John Donnelly (left), who represented Champlain Valley Union High School on Saturday in the Annual Merchants Bank-Rotary Twin State Classic, puts up a shot against North Country Union during a game on Feb. 14. The recent CVU graduate scored seven points in Vermont’s win over the squad from New Hampshire.

It was the second straight year that the Vermont team has won the boys event for graduated seniors. New Hampshire still holds an 18-11 advantage in the overall series.

“I just heard they (New Hampshire) are up something like 18-11 in the series,” a skeptical but grinning Donnelly said after the game.

For the former CVU frontcourt operator and his mates, this game was not as close as the final score and series numbers might indicate.

After holding a four-point (42-38) lead at the half, the Green Mountain gang roared out to as much as an 18-point edge late in the second half before New Hampshire, with some late three-pointers, got to within single digits with less than two minutes to go.

Donnelly was in Vermont’s starting lineup and played 15 minutes, seeing action in both halves. Early on he hit an inside hoop and follow-up free throw as Vermont opened a quick eight-point lead.

After intermission, Donnelly hit two inside shots after getting slick passes from his mates. He finished with three buckets in six tries and seven points.

“Our team was really unselfish and moved the ball very well,” Donnelly said. “We got up and down the floor. We wanted to go right at them.”

Led by Burlington High’s 6-foot-8 Clancy Rugg, Vermont held a 50-39 edge in rebounding. Rugg led everybody with 12 boards and also chipped in with 14 points, including 10-for-13 from the free throw line.

“Rugg was tough and also huge on defense,” Donnelly said.

Fast moving forward-guard Mark Comstock of Rutland High led Vermont scorers with 18 points and was named the team’s Player of the Game.

Jason Chevrefils, a 6-foot-3 inside operator from Manchester Memorial High, paced the Granite Staters with 23 points. He had 18 in the first half when he muscled his way effectively down low around the basket.

“He was really strong and very clever,” Donnelly said. “But we were able to control him in the second half.”

This fall Donnelly, who averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds a game for CVU last season, will attend Vassar College, where he will continue his basketball career.

N.H. girls beat Vermont’s squad

In the first game, New Hampshire’s girls tripped Vermont, 65-56, to gain a 17-12 edge in the series. There were no ex-CVU players on the team.

Former South Burlington High star Kelsey Beynnon, a familiar figure at CVU these past four winters, was the Vermont Player of the Game. She scored 12 points and hauled down three rebounds in 20 minutes. Former Spaulding High of Barre star Marissa Valez scored 10 points in 21 minutes.