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 on Saturday, February 28th only one of those teams, the Proctor Phantoms, managed to bring the title home. The remaining three teams were all eliminated in the semifinals.
Let us 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 on Monday, February 23rd. 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 last Friday's 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 on Monday the 23rd 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.
That Tuesday, the 25th 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 last Friday, 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 in Monday's (February 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?