Rugged schedule continues for CVU hoop girls

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

January 30th, 2014

Through frigid outside temperatures, status as defending champions that pumps up the opposition and an NBA-like compacted game schedule, the Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team keeps on putting up the big Ws.

After a workmanlike 46-20 victory over visiting 5-8 St. Johnsbury Academy at Hinesburg Monday night, coach Ute Otley’s Redhawks sit 13-0 for the campaign and with 36 straight wins in the books over the past two seasons.

Coming up Thursday night is a trip to St. Albans and a session with Bellows Free Academy on its court, always a challenging place to play. The Comets are 8-4 with recent wins over Burlington High and Essex High.

CVU bopped BFA 65-30 at Bremner Gymnasium Jan. 3.

After the BFA visit on Saturday, the Redhawks will play their third game of the week on the road in Newport against North Country Union before returning home Monday to play host to Spaulding High.

Otley had all hands in the game early and often in the win over the Hilltoppers, who never led. The offensively deliberate visitors were held to just 31 shots, of which they canned seven for 22 percent. CVU went 21-for-44, a 47 percent clip.

Nine CVU players scored and 10 hauled down rebounds, while senior guard Kaelyn Kohlasch handed out six assists. Laurel Jaunich with nine points, Emily Kinneston with eight and Annabella Pugliese with six paced the scoring.

Kinneston and Pugliese topped the glass workers with five rebounds each.

It was a clean floor game for CVU, which went until just one minute and nine seconds remained in the first half before its first turnover. There were just five in the entire game to go with but six fouls.

The humdinger of a contest was Saturday’s 59-49 epic victory at once-beaten (by CVU) Rice Memorial High, in which the Redhawks trailed 47-43 with a mere three-and-a-half minutes left in the game.

“We have not had to play from behind (late in a game),” said Otley after the contest.

The ‘Hawks responded with their typical coolness under fire.

It had been a tense struggle in a clangorous setting with loud, enthusiastic cheering on both sides. Hammond Gymnasium was rocking.

CVU had led 30-22 at the half, but Rice came back strong in the third quarter, sparked by veteran Hailee Barron’s 1,000th point, a lengthy trey less than a minute into the second half that led to a ceremony.

But just when the Green Knights appeared set for success in the closing minutes, the Redhawk seniors grabbed the leadership mantle.

“For about five minutes we were playing not to lose,” said Otley. “The seniors took control in the huddle as we said that we had to stay aggressive.”

Kinneston hit a pair pf charity throws with 3:27 to go and then tied it at 47 with a jumper in the lane at 2:45.

Then came Kohlasch time, as the second senior made her presence felt with two free throws to put CVU in front 49-47 and complete a six point run.

After a Rice free throw, Kohlasch bagged two more freebies (that’s 4-for-4 in the heat of the stretch run) at 1:19, but Barron hit one-of-two and pulled the Knights to within 51-49.

Kohlasch then applied the dagger, a wide open three-pointer from the side of the key that put CVU up 54-49 with less than a minute remaining. A layup and free throw by Sadie Otley moments later became the complete cooker.

“I like that basket,” said Kohlasch of the same Rice hoop where she sank a game winning basket from the baseline two seasons ago.

Kinneston had a solid 22-point performance including four steals and three rebounds. Otley finished with 14 points with her quick moves drawing fouls that resulted in 12 free throws, of which she sank eight.

Kohlasch finished with nine points, while rebounders-in-chief were Jaunich with nine and Amanda Beatty with eight. Off the bench came among others Amanda Lougee with four points, three rebounds and three assists.

Barron led Rice with 16 points. Gemma Cirignano had 10 with her inside work.

Last Thursday at home, the Redhawks found themselves down 8-1 to a reviving Burlington High squad (7-5) before Kohlasch, Jaunich and Lougee sparked a 16-point run that led to a 26-14 halftime edge and an eventual easy 51-27 triumph

Kohlasch finished with 13 points and Jaunich 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The junior varsity is also 13-0. The most recent wins came over Burlington (52-26), Rice (58-32) and St. Johnsbury (50-13).