Last month, four Rutland County high school teams advanced to the final four, in their respective sports and divisions, and stood just two wins away from claiming a state championship. However, by the time the dust settled only one of those teams, the Proctor Phantoms, managed to bring the title home. The remaining three teams, because they were all eliminated in the semifinals.
Let's begin with the fifth-seeded Rutland Raiders girls hockey team. After advancing to the semifinals of the Lake Division by winning post season games over Rice and Harwood, the Raiders were eliminated by the top seeded Missisquoi Valley Union Thunderbirds 3-1, Feb. 23. Missisquoi got first period goals from Emiley Ledoux, Riley Fontaine and Erin McDonald, and then kept the Raiders from coming back. Rutland's lone goal, provided by Ashley Boucher, also came in the opening period, and at the time tied the game at 1-1. Deanna Rodolfy kept the Raiders in the contest by making 21 saves. Rutland completed a successful season, finishing 16-6-2. MVU, who blew a 2 goal lead and lost to Burr and Burton 3-2 in the championship game, finished the year at 21-2.
The Mill River Minutemen boys basketball team, who were the top seed in the Division II tournament. survived a quarterfinal scare by the Burr and Burton Bulldogs, before being eliminated in the semifinals by the fourth-seeded Springfield Cosmos 62-41. Grant White scored 34 points, and hauled in 15 rebounds to lead the Cosmos to their only win over Mill River this season in three tries. Ethan Bicskei, who hit four, three-pointers, led the disappointed Minutemen with 19 points. Mill River finished the year at an impressive 19-4. Springfield, who went on to defeat the Vergennes Commodores 59-31 in the Division II State Championship, completed the year at 18-6.
It wasn't much better for the third-seeded Rutland Raiders, who were eliminated by the second-seeded Rice Green Knights 56-31 in the boy's Division I basketball tournament. Marcus Dutkiewicz tallied 20 points and Nick Meunier added 16 points and hauled in eight rebounds to lead the Green Knights to the 25 point win. Rice point guard Jon Goldberg contributed heavily to the win as well, scoring eight points, hauling in eight rebounds and dishing out seven assists. The Knights defensive effort was the big hero in this one though, as they held Rutland to a season low 31 points. Mark Comstock was Rutland's leading scorer with just eight points, while Kyle Hovath and Alexander Snyder contributed six more apiece for Rutland, who ended their season with an 18-5 record. Rice went on to shock the Vermont basketball community by defeating the top seeded Burlington Sea Horses 48-39 in overtime, ending Burlington's multiple season winning streak at 46. The state champion Green Knights finished the year with an impressive 27-2 record.
Meanwhile, Proctor advanced to the Division IV state championship game by eliminating the Danville Indians 75-25 during the Feb. 23 semifinals. Curtis Robinson led the Phantoms attack with a game high 19 points. Proctor, who dominated this one from the start, leading 20-5 after the first quarter, got another 14 points from Zach Carter. The Indians, who finished the year at 14-9, were led by Matt Chamberlin with 10 points.
The Phantoms then wrapped up yet another perfect 23-0 season by defeating the second seeded Websterville Baptists 47-39 in the Division IV State Championship game. With the game close at the half (Proctor led 23-16) the Phantoms looked to their leader Robinson, and he didn't disappoint. Though Websterville never went away Robinson, who led all scorers with 23 points, kept the Phantoms in the lead by scoring 16 of Proctor's 24 second half points. Ryan Carter contributed nine points and 10 rebounds to the win. Websterville, who finish the year at 20-3, were paced by Isaac Ransom with 15 points. For Proctor it was their fourth straight Division IV State Championship. Can you say dynasty?
West Rutland at the Semi-Finals
The high school girls basketball playoffs began Feb. 23 and just like the boys tournament, by the time the deadline for our paper rolled around each division had been whittled down to four teams. Of the six Rutland County teams, only the Division IV top seeded West Rutland Golden Horde remained in the hunt.
West Rutland, who received an opening round buy, advanced to the state semifinals by defeating the ninth seeded Rochester Rockets 61-45 in quarterfinal action in West Rutland. Katie Lincoln, the Horde's leading scorer during the season, had a monstrous night scoring 32 of West Side's 61 total points. Emily Sumner contributed another ten for the Golden Horde, who were scheduled to face fifth-seeded Danvilee. If they pulled that off they played for the Division IV State Championship. Paityn Boyer scored 11 for Rochester, who end their season dead even at 11-11.
Rutland County's lone Division representative, the Poultney Blue Devils, didn't last very long. The thirteenth-seeded Blue Devils were eliminated in the first round, losing badly to the fourth seeded Enosburg Hornets 78-37, Feb. 25, in Enosburg. Jade Desroches led the Hornets with 18 points. Maria Gleason added 15, Charlotte Hartman contributed another 14 and Lindsey Larivee chipped in 12 more for Enosburg, who entered the quarterfinals at 18-3. Ali Jones scored 19 points for Poultney, who finish the year at 8-13.
In Division II the county had three representatives, with the fifth-seeded Fair Haven Slaters leading the way. The Slaters won their opening round contest before being eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Fair Haven began their post season by defeating the twelfth-seeded Bellows Falls Terriers 47-26 in the play downs. Amanda Howard led the Slaters in this one, knocking down 15 points on the night. Bellows Falls finished their season at 4-17.
The Slaters season came to an end three nights later when they loss to the fourth seeded Milton Yellow Jackets 50-42 in the quarterfinals. Brittaney Rice (16 points) and Stephanie Bull (14 points) combined to score 30 points, leading Milton to Barre and a date in the semifinals. Kaitlin Gary contributed 8 points and 7 steals to the quarterfinal win. Howard was again the Slaters leading scorer with 13 points, and she was followed closely by Devon Reed who had 11 Fair Haven finished the season at 15-8.
The other two Rutland County teams, the ninth-seeded Otter Valley Otters and the eighth-seeded Mill River Minutemen, faced each other in the opening round in North Clarendon Feb. 24. Behind a 17-11 third quarter the Otters opened up a close game and then hung on in the fourth to defeat the Minutemen 50-36. Michelle Lefebvre led a balanced Otter Valley offense with a dozen points. Chelsea Bagley scored 11 to lead Mill River, who finished the year at 10-11.
That would be Otter Valley's last win of the season though. Three nights later they were eliminated by the top seeded Lamoille Lancers 58-40, in Hyde Park. Rachel Wellman had a monstrous night, leading the Lancers to the quarterfinal win by scoring 26 points. Alyssa Godin added nine points and Chelsea Dunham chipped in another eight for Lamoille, who enter the semifinals with an impressive 20-1 record. Julie Ketcham and Amanda Sanderson had eight points apiece for Otter Valley, who finish their year at 9-12.
The Rutland Raiders, the county's lone Division I representative, survived the first round, before being eliminated in last weekend's quarterfinals.
The seventh-seeded Rutland Raiders jumped out to a 32 - 9 halftime lead, and cruised from there, eliminating the tenth seeded Middlebury Tigers 54-32 in the opening round of the playoffs Feb. 25. Liz Douglass, Kelsey Forte and Megan Blongy scored 12 points apiece for the victorious Raiders. Katie Ritter scored nine points for Middlebury, who finished the season with a 10-11 record.
Despite a valiant comeback attempt the Raiders were eliminated by the second seeded Spaulding Crimson Tide 40-30 in the quarterfinals. After finding themselves down 22-9 at halftime, the Raiders battled back and got within three points at 33-30 with just under four minutes to play But Spaulding would hold Rutland scoreless the rest of the way, and hang on to claim the 40-30 win. Linsey Barclay led Spaulding with 17 points and Marissa Velez added ten more to the quarterfinal win. Rutland, who finishes the year at 13-9, were led by Alyssa Moore with 15 points.