By Mal Boright
Standing between the Champlain Valley Union High boys’ basketball team and a second straight victory? It’s annual Division 1 title challenger Rice Memorial High.
The Green Knights will be at Bremner Gym Thursday. Tip off for the initial meeting with new CVU coach Michael Osborne’s charges is 7 p.m.
The skipper got his first CVU victory Tuesday, a 43-27 rapping of visiting Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans which departed Hinesburg with an 0-2 record.
The Redhawks evened their mark at 1-1. Essex High had put on a late splurge Saturday afternoon to trip the ‘Hawks 53-41 in the opener for both teams.
Tuesday, after trailing 16-15 following a loose, mistake-prone first half by both teams, the Redhawks took the game from the floor to the boards and took charge, outscoring the Bobwhites 16-5 in the third period.
CVU pounded the glass without mercy, getting second and third shots as big Lucas Aube and Brandon O’Connell combined for 32 rebounds, Aube snaring 18 to go with his game high of 16 points. O’Connell hit for nine tallies and 14 grabs from the glass.
Prior to the third quarter, the game had been a continual flurry of turnovers due to wayward passes, forced errors and presses by both hard-working defenses.
Proving the old roundball saying, “What the defense giveth you, the offense can taketh away,” CVU turned the ball over 18 times in the first half to 15 for BFA.
Once past mid-court in the first half, the Redhawks tried long-range bombs to crack BFA’s zone, but only Matt Howell was able to snap the cords with a trey, that in the first period as the target basket was in frosty condition. Howell’s was the game’s lone three-point strike.
CVU’s miscues continued in the third period, but the Redhawks pounded the boards and took advantage of offensive rebounds plus a late pair of hoops by Ryan Schneiderman, which allowed CVU to take a 31-21 advantage into the final reel.
The Redhawks’ scrambling defense limited the Bobwhites to 25 percent shooting on 10 hoops in just 40 tries. Forward Tyler Paya led with eight points and Matt Sanders, also a front court guy, had seven.
CVU, had a chilly first 16 minutes from the floor, netting just five of 23 shots. But the second half was much better, 11 for 24 to gain a 34 percent 16 of 47 for the game. Free throws, however, were a shaky 10 for 23.
Turnovers were a plague for CVU against Essex as the Hornets shook off an inconsistent first three quarters to lay a 20-8 slam on the Redhawks in the closing eight minutes to whiff the sweet smell of success.
CVU coughed up the ball seven times in the critical quarter and allowed Essex to go to the line for 10 charity shots, of which the Hornets sank nine.
Essex forward Eniz Camdzic had nine of his 24 points in that final stanza. Guard Cody Greene collected six of his 14 down the stretch, four at the line.
Aube paced CVU with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Chris Reiss had nine points and O’Connell eight with six rebounds.
Coach Seth Emerson’s junior varsity ‘Hawks are a sparkling 2-0 after bopping Essex and BFA by similar 45-35 scores.