Two road trips loom for CVU’s 14-0 girls hoop team

Maeve Higgins looks for an open teammate. Observer photo by Al Frey
Maeve Higgins looks for an open teammate. Observer photo by Al Frey

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The Champlain Valley Union High girls’ basketball team closes out a three-game week Thursday and Saturday with bus excursions to Spaulding High in Barre and Mount Anthony Union High in Bennington. 

The jaunt Thursday evening to Barre will pit the 14-0 Redhawks against a Crimson Tide unit they handled 69-34 at Bremner Gymnasium in early January.

The trip to deep southern Vermont Saturday (2:30 p.m. varsity start time) will be the first of two contests against the running and gunning Patriots, who will come to Hinesburg the following Friday.

Over the past few days on the home hardwood, CVU bashed visiting North Country Union 60-28 Monday night. Last Thursday, the Redhawks got tested by 12-2 Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans before putting away the Comets with some effective second-half long range sniping, 49-35.

North Country had held the Redhawks to a 10-point win Dec.20 in Newport, but Monday CVU came out zeroed in and smartly cruised to a 19-5 advantage by the end of the first quarter, hitting eight of 11 shots, mostly inside. Center Laurel Jaunich knocked down her first four tries and guard Sadie Otley snapped the strings three times in a row and had three assists along with three by backcourt mate Caitlin Grasso.

The only moment of pause for CVU the entire night came in the third period. After the Redhawks hiked a 33-9 halftime edge to 37-9, North Country, led by freshman sharp shooting center Kylie Wright, ran off eight straight points, all from Wright.

Hawks coach Ute Otley called a time out and gave a  “motivational talk” to her suddenly floundering charges. The chat got the job done as CVU responded with a 14-point run with six players scoring that carried it up and away into the final reel.

Jaunich finished with 16 points and five rebounds while Sadie Otley collected 12 points, eight helpers plus a rebound. Forward Annabella Pugliese was prominent with eight points, six rebounds and four steals. Grasso finished with eight points, five swipes and four assists.

Nine Redhawks scored as coach Otley substituted early and often.

The BFA test was one of dueling runs. CVU rolled up a second period 20-6 mountain for the Comets to climb, and by the end the half BFA with a seven-point swing had climbed back within 20-13.

The Redhawks, with Jaunich (8 points, 9 rebounds) hitting two early inside hoops, rolled ahead 26-13 only to have the pesky visitors unleash a nine-point run to get to within 26-22 with Jaunich on the CVU bench with three fouls. Sophomore guard Hannah Earl was the big producer for BFA, hitting three baskets in the run. She finished with nine points and eight rebounds.

It was Grasso, CVU’s senior guard, who rapped for order, swishing a three-pointer to restore CVU’s offensive mojo with a minute and 38 seconds left in the period. Otley followed with a trey of her own and Jaunich came back into the fray for a buzzer-beating deuce to put the Redhawks up 34-22 for the final eight minutes.

CVU successfully popped five of 10 fourth quarter shots, with Otley nailing a pair of threebies and Grasso canning two buckets and two free throws for six of her 11 tallies to ice the match.

Helping to give CVU a 36-21 advantage on the glass were reserves Abby Thut and Laura Durkee with six and four rebounds, while starter Pugliese grabbed five.

Coach Cathy Kohlasch’s CVU jayvees rapped BFA 39-22, but fell to North Country Union, 32-30. The Little Hawks are 10-3.