In girls basketball: CA Chargers head to semi-finals

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by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 2-23-2014

Craftsbury's Meghan Pennock (left) uses some fancy footwork to cut past Whitcomb/Rochester's Lindsey LaPerle during Saturday's DIV quarterfinal in Craftsbury.  A late run enabled the Chargers to finally break through the Hornets' defense and grant the Chargers a 43-35 win to advance to Monday night's semi-finals in Barre. Photo by Richard Creaser

Craftsbury’s Meghan Pennock (left) uses some fancy footwork to cut past Whitcomb/Rochester’s Lindsey LaPerle during Saturday’s DIV quarterfinal in Craftsbury. A late run enabled the Chargers to finally break through the Hornets’ defense and grant the Chargers a 43-35 win to advance to Monday night’s semi-finals in Barre.
Photo by Richard Creaser

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — Thalia Thomas’ last-second three-pointer in the final moments of the third quarter proved to be a decisive basket as the fourth-seeded Craftsbury Chargers defeated the visiting fifth-seeded Whitcomb/Rochester Hornets 43-35 on Saturday.  The win propels the Chargers into Monday night’s DIV semi-final against top-ranked Proctor at the Barre Auditorium.

It was a tight game throughout with the two teams deadlocked at 7-all after the first quarter and Craftsbury leading by a single point headed into the half.  When the Hornets tied up the game at 26-26 with less than 30 seconds left in the third it truly seemed anyone’s game.  And then Thomas landed Craftsbury’s lone three-pointer of the day to give the Chargers the edge they needed to put the game away once and for all.

“I think everyone had a lot of nerves going into this game,” Thalia Thomas said after the game.  “It was something we had to work through, to get back into our game.  It took a little while but we did it.”

Coach Rick Thomas was pleased with the effort his team put up against a tough Whitcomb squad.

CAGBvWhit shoot

Craftsbury Charger Lynn Brown, an eighth grader, shows excellent form against Whitcomb/Rochester Hornet Savannah Shepard during Saturday’s DIV 43-35 win. The Chargers win propels them into a tough DIV semi-final against league-leader and number one seed Proctor in Barre on Monday night. Photo by Richard Creaser

“To face a team like Whitcomb/Rochester three times and come away with wins each time is a testament to this team and how focused they are,” Coach Thomas said of his Chargers squad.  “This is what they’ve played for all season.  They know that they are one win away from playing for the state title.”

All three of the Chargers wins versus the Hornets have been decided by fewer than ten points.  Whitcomb’s deadly sophomore duo of Lindsey LaPerle and Phoebe Parrish combined for 29 of the Hornets’ 35 points on the night including two three-pointers apiece.  That level of outside threat proved a great challenge for the Charger defenders.

“They’ve got some great shooters,” Thalia Thomas said of her Hornet opponents.  “They were killing us on back-cuts.”

The game was also an unusually foul-filled affair for both squads.  By the time the final buzzer sounded one Hornet was bounced from the game and both Craftsbury and Whitcomb each had two players on the verge of elimination.

“Yeah, there were a lot of fouls,” Thomas said.  “I don’t know if it was from playing with more intensity because it was a playoff or that the refs were just making more calls.  It’s something we need to watch out for.”

Coach Thomas also praised the athleticism of the Hornets and the challenge the team has presented in each and every meeting.

“I knew this game was going to be like this,” Coach Thomas said.  “They are amazing athletes and they knew how to put pressure on us.  The way they managed Janet  showed a respect for her abilities,” he said about Janet Bohannon.

While Bohannon struggled in the early goings with stifling coverage that limited her to only seven points through the first half, her offensive potential was simply too great to hold permanently in check.  Bohannon would explode for seven points in the final quarter alone and contributed 11 total points in the second half keying the Chargers win.  She finished with a game high 18 points while teammate Meghan Pennock would record nine points on the day.

How well the Chargers fare against Proctor will be largely dependent on ball control.  In Saturday’s game ball control was often an issue especially when the Hornets got the ball to Parrish and LaPerle.  Turnovers are deadly against skilled teams and Proctor has been one of the most skilled teams in the division.  Proctor has recorded wins against upper-division teams in 13 of its 18 wins on the year.  In fact, of its two losses one was against DIV second seeded Mount St. Joseph and the other against DII Fairhaven.  Proctor dismantled DI Burr and Burton 66-33 in only the team’s third game of the season.

“There are definitely some nerves going up against Proctor,” Thalia Thomas said.  “We’ve never played them but we know they’re a good team.  We don’t know anything about them but they don’t know anything about us either.”

CAGBvWhit steal

Craftsbury Charger Sarah Dunbar (foreground right)snatches the steal and bolts down the court during Saturday’s DIV quarterfinal against the visiting Whitcomb/Rochester Hornets. Also in on the play are Hornets Casey Holtz (far left), Phoebe Parrish (second from right) and fellow Charger Thalia Thomas. Craftsbury Coach Rick Thomas (standing, center) observes the play. Photo by Richard Creaser

The game will truly hinge on which team is most readily able to adapt as the game wears on, Coach Thomas said.  Forcing Proctor to surrender turnovers while limiting their own turnovers will play a critical role in the contest, he said.

“We need to communicate better and make sure we secure the ball,” Coach Thomas said.  “A team like Proctor is going to make those conversions on our turnovers so we need to be very mindful of that.”

Contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

– Richard Creaser

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In boys basketball: Total team effort propels LR Rangers in win

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LR boys Harper web

Lake Region Ranger Logan Harper (center) works around Richford Falcons Bradley St. Pierre (left) and Brett McAllister during Wednesday night’s varsity match at Lake Region. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 2-13-2014

ORLEANS — The Lake Region Rangers boys varsity basketball (13-4) team kept their season longest seven-game winning streak alive with a 52-20 win over the visiting Richford Falcons (4-13) on Wednesday night, February 12.  The win was a near mirror image of the Rangers’ last win against the Falcons 58-24 back on January 9.

Wednesday’s contest enabled Lake Region Coach James Ingalls an opportunity to send out his underclassmen, giving his regular starters more rest time headed into the impending playoff season.  Coach Ingalls said he liked seeing the quality minutes his second string brought to the table.

“I think it speaks to how deep a rotation we have,” the coach said after the game.  “The boys put up some real quality minutes.  We had a total team effort and that earned us the W.”

Nine different players hit the score sheet for the Rangers with Alex Beauregard and Dennis Newland leading the attack with 11 points apiece.  Richford’s Jeremy Franklin led the Falcon attack with seven points on the night.

Sophomore Trent Bathalon was one of the Lake Region players who benefited from increased playing time in the game.  Bathalon finished the game with seven points including a three-pointer recorded in the final quarter of play.

LR boys Bathalon web

Lake Region’s Trent Bathalon (left) goes airborne on the shot against the visiting Richford Falcons on Wednesday night, February 12. Bathalon would record the basket on this shot as the Rangers downed Logan Hogaboom (center), Brett McAllister and the Falcons 52-20. Photo by Richard Creaser

The Rangers’ solid defensively play limited Richford’s scoring chances while enabling Lake Region to mount an offensive outpouring.  The Rangers were highly efficient in controlling the play in the paint both offensively and defensively.

“Defensively we played very, very well,” Coach Ingalls said.  “I thought our press was really good and we boxed them out really well.  I’m a bit of a defensively-minded coach so I was glad to see that tonight.”

Bathalon credits control around the basket and solid passing for the Rangers’ success.

“I feel like the cutting and movement was a really big thing for us,” Bathalon said.  “When we keep control and don’t rush we play better.”

Though the two squads were fairly evenly matched on height, the Rangers appeared to dominate offensive and defensive rebounds.  Limiting the number of repeated shots the Falcons could take on net was a critical component in the Rangers’ success.

LR boys Newland web

Lake Region’s Dennis Newland (center) and Ranger teammate Alex Beauregard (not shown) turned in a team best 11 points apiece as the Rangers downed Richford 52-20 on Wednesday night. Richford Falcon defenders Brett McAllister (left) and Kyle Doan (right) can only watch as Newland buries the basket. Photo by Richard Creaser

“They got a lot of big guys and play a tough, physical game,” Bathalon said of the Falcons.  “We had to work around them to get the chances we got.”

That physical play, while useful in keeping the Rangers away from easy baskets, did eventually take its toll.  The Falcons gave up 12 free throws in the last two quarters alone putting their struggling offense in an even deeper hole.  By comparison, Richford only surrendered a single free-throw to Lake Region in the entire first half.

“Things were definitely starting to get a little chippy out there,” Coach Ingalls said.  “I didn’t want to escalate things so I started using my bench more.  I can honestly say I’m happy with how they played this game.  There really wasn’t anything glaringly obvious that we need to address.”

The Lake Region Rangers hold their final regular season home game on Friday, February 21, as they take on visiting BFA-Fairfax.  The game has a scheduled 7 p.m. start.

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

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In boys basketball: Gray’s return to NCUHS bad news for Falcons

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NCBBall Gray cmykcopyright the Chronicle February 12, 2014

by Richard Creaser

NEWPORT — It was a bittersweet homecoming for Kendrick Gray, who returned to the North Country gymnasium for the first time this season on Friday night.  Gray, a former North Country Falcon freshman, now plays for the Rice Green Knights (12-3) as a potent sophomore forward.

“Coming in as an opponent was pretty nerve-wracking,” Gray said after Rice’s 74-39 win.  “I just wanted to do my best and everything kind of came out.  I wasn’t expecting to have as good a game as I did.”

Gray exhibited the kind of skills that made him a fearsome opponent for any team.  His 17-point performance, tops among both teams, including shooting 4 for 9 from the free throw line, a three-point basket, and five other baskets including a crowd-inciting dunk in the first quarter.  The fact that his heroics inspired cheers from both halves of the crowd was not lost on the amiable sophomore.

“I knew I couldn’t hide forever and I’d have to come back sometime,” Gray said smiling.  “I love my Newport peeps.  I love this place.”

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Young pitchers and catchers take up yoga

copyright the Chronicle February 12, 2014

by Richard Creaser

NEWPORT — Jay Gonyaw has operated a clinic through the Junior Legion Baseball Program for area pitchers and catchers for the past eight years, first at IROC and now at North Country Union High School.  His coaching experience, however, goes back even further.  Mr. Gonyaw is also the coach of the North Country Falcons junior varsity squad.

“I coached my first time when I was 18 years old,” Mr. Gonyaw told the Chronicle on Tuesday.  “So I’ve been around baseball and coaching baseball a long time.”

What Mr. Gonyaw has noticed lately is that his young athletes often aren’t quite in the condition they should be.  To remedy that, he’s introduced an unlikely new element to his coaching regimen — yoga.

A number of factors contribute to the fact that  kids aren’t as limber as they once were.  They range from the widespread use of technology to a more stringent focus on single or double sport athletic training.

“You see it when a kid transitions from playing in one sport season and switching over to a different one in the next season,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “They have to be in great shape to play at a high level in one sport, but when they switch they end up sore.  They’re going from working one group of muscles to a completely different group of muscles, and their bodies just aren’t ready for that.”

The ability to adapt from one sport to the next has also declined as varsity athletes begin to focus more on a single sport instead of the two or three sports that athletes of his generation played, Mr. Gonyaw said.  Working on the muscle groups that are used most ignores the benefits that a more complete workout experience delivers to those muscle groups you use less frequently.

Back in the day when outdoor activities formed a major part of a child’s life, multiple muscle groups were always being tested.  Kids rode bikes through town, played soccer in the park, or swam at the local beach.  As “free-play” activities have diminished, so has exposure to different kinds of body workouts.  And that has affected the ability of athletes to meet the physical demands of their sports, Mr. Gonyaw said.

“I see a lot of kids coming into my clinic or at the start of the season and they are pretty stiff,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “It got me to thinking that the traditional stretching routine maybe isn’t working as well as it used to.  So I started to think outside the box.”

So Mr. Gonyaw and his fellow trainer Eric LeBlanc arranged for yoga instructor Rebecca Marcotte of Barton to come in and work with his players.  The first 30 minutes of each weekly session are dedicated to yoga stretching and the final 60 minutes to pitching and catching.

“We’ve been at it for five weeks of our seven-week clinic and we’re already seeing a big difference,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “I’ve had kids ask me why we didn’t do this sooner, so they’re really buying into it.  They’re seeing the value of what we’re doing.”

While the clinic focuses on pitchers and catchers, the benefits of yoga would apply equally across the diamond and the outfield, Mr. Gonyaw said.  Pitchers and catchers are the only players with direct interaction with every pitch but that doesn’t mean that the position players, or batters for that matter, wouldn’t benefit as well.

“A centerfielder or a left fielder might go a couple of innings without needing to do anything,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “But then they need to be ready to run at full speed and make the catch or make a throw right away.  That puts a lot of strain on the body.”

Not only will yoga help players perform at a higher level of readiness, but it should also help to avoid some of the more common injuries that occur during the season.  As short as the high school baseball season is in Vermont, by the time an injury has healed the season is effectively over for that player.

“I think we will see some early results when we start the daily practices in the spring,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “The real test will come at the end of the season when we see how many injuries we have or how many sore arms we have.  I really think that this is going to make a huge difference.”

Mr. Gonyaw intends to bring back yoga for his clinic in future years, and he also hopes to incorporate a ten- to 15-minute yoga routine in his daily practices and pre-game regimen.  As the student athletes become more comfortable with the yoga routines, he expects that players may also start to recognize the meditative benefits of yoga as well.

“I know of yoga mostly as a good way to stretch out your muscles and joints,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “But I can see a time when a batter or pitcher can step back and refocus for the next at-bat.  The mental part will come.”

Mr. Gonyaw’s annual pitching and catching clinic is open to a wide range of ages from 12 years old to 17 years old and to kids from all over.  This year’s group includes four catchers and 13 pitchers who work with Mr. Gonyaw and Mr. LeBlanc, a former pro baseball player.

“Eric really has an amazing understanding of what it takes to pitch at all levels,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “He understands the mechanics of each pitch and the benefits of a good stretching routine.  That really enhances the experience for everyone.”

The positive feedback from players so far indicates that Mr. Gonyaw’s unorthodox yoga regimen has hit a home run.  How well the yoga stretching philosophy extends beyond the kids in his clinic is yet to be seen.

“I definitely think there’s something here that would benefit all players in all sports,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “If it helps them perform better and avoid injuries, it’s been totally worthwhile.”

 contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

For more free stories like this one, please see our Sports pages.

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In boys basketball: Chargers regain winning ways against Websterville

copyright the Chronicle February 5, 2014

by Richard Creaser

In the battle of the freshmen, Craftsbury Charger Austin Masi (foreground) outpaces Websterville Warrior Wyatt Morrison during Monday's varsity match in Craftsbury.  In the background Chargers Issac Spaulding and Jon DeLaBruere (back right) hustle to support the attack.

In the battle of the freshmen, Craftsbury Charger Austin Masi (foreground) outpaces Websterville Warrior Wyatt Morrison during Monday’s varsity match in Craftsbury. In the background Chargers Issac Spaulding and Jon DeLaBruere (back right) hustle to support the attack.

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — The Craftsbury Academy Chargers boys basketball team (12-2) returned to form with a 56-33 win over the visiting Websterville Baptist Christian School Warriors (1-14) Monday night.  The boys had suffered a 68-35 loss to Rochester on Saturday.

The team struggled at times to find its rhythm, but that was due to trying new lines, Craftsbury Coach Derek Cipriano explained after the game.

“Overall, I think we did a good job of working the play and moving the ball,” the coach said.  “I was trying to get everyone into the game and that affected us offensively.  But I also have to give credit to Websterville for making us earn it tonight.”

Charger Issac Spaulding singled out Warrior Hayden McIntyre for his strong play under the net.  McIntyre was a highly visible presence under the basket, using his superior height and reach to break up plays and block shots.

“We don’t have that kind of size so we knew we couldn’t take him on head-on,” Spaulding said after the game.  “But we learned if we boxed him out and went around him we could usually find an opening and take the shot.”

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In girls basketball: Chargers defense stifles Warriors

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Craftsbury Charger Mackenzie Blaney (center) takes a shot against Websterville Warrior Abby Fifield (left) as fellow Charger Janet Bohannon looks on.  Photos by Richard Creaser

Craftsbury Charger Mackenzie Blaney (center) takes a shot against Websterville Warrior Abby Fifield (left) as fellow Charger Janet Bohannon looks on. Photos by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle February 5, 2014

by Richard Creaser

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — The Craftsbury Chargers girls varsity basketball team (13-1) executed a total lockdown defense on Monday night enroute to a 61-5 win over the visiting Websterville Baptist Christian School Warriors (3-11).  Craftsbury Coach Rick Thomas said that he has always focused on defense as part of his team’s strategy and that focus certainly showed on Monday night.

“In a 120-minute practice, we spend about 80 minutes on defensive drills,” Coach Thomas said.  “I’m not too worried about our offense.  We have such a great depth of offensive talent that I would rather focus more on what we need to do defensively to win games.”

A lack of bench depth certainly hampered the Warriors.  Of the nine players on the roster, only six suited up for Monday’s contest with a seventh attending though on crutches.

“I think that alone speaks to the great conditioning on that team,” Coach Thomas said of his opponents.  “With only one sub, they were still able to play through the whole game.”

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Sargent joins friends in Sochi for Olympics

Ida Sargent of Barton will ski in her first Winter Olympics next month.  Photo courtesy of Dave and Lindy Sargent

Ida Sargent of Barton will ski in her first Winter Olympics next month. Photo courtesy of Dave and Lindy Sargent

copyright the Chronicle January 29, 2014

by Natalie Hormilla

 

On the week of her twenty-sixth birthday, Ida Sargent of Barton got some very big news — that she had officially been named to the U.S. Olympic women’s cross-country ski team.

“I think when I found out I couldn’t stop smiling,” Ms. Sargent said in a telephone interview Friday from Toblach, Italy, where she will compete in two World Cup races this weekend. 

The weekend’s events are the last for Ms. Sargent before she heads to her first Olympic games, in Sochi, Russia.

“Then on Sunday, we’ll drive to Munich, then Monday we do all the processing — fill out the forms, get the visas figured out, and get our uniforms.  Then on Tuesday, we fly to Sochi.”

Even with the Olympics around the corner, Ms. Sargent is still focused on the tasks at hand.

“Right now, I’m still kind of focusing on these next World Cup races and trying to just take each moment in stride,” she said.

Her birthday plans included hard training sessions in the morning, followed by fun with a couple of friends who just happen to be in Italy, too.

“Hannah Dreissigacker and Susan Dunklee are training about 30 minutes from here, which is really unique, because we usually don’t cross paths,” she said.  “That’ll be a really special way to celebrate my birthday.”

Ms. Dunklee and Ms. Dreissigacker are newly named Olympians themselves, having been nominated to the U.S. women’s biathlon team.

The three women have known each other most of their lives, through skiing together at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, first as kids in the Bill Koch League, then as young women in the Craftsbury Green Racing Project.

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In girls basketball: Chargers reel off seventh straight win

CA basketball toss

Craftsbury’s Janet Bohannon (right) tosses in the first basket of her 15-point night. Concord’s Baylee Olden (center) attempts to block as Craftsbury’s Meghan Brown positions herself beneath the net. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 1-21-2014

CRAFTSBURY COMMON —  The Craftsbury Academy Chargers (7-1) galloped off to an early lead en route to their seventh straight win of the season against the visiting Concord Wildcats (2-7) 57-34 on Tuesday night.  The Chargers have been unbeatable since a season opening loss to Division III Richford, and Coach Rick Thomas envisions great things for this year’s squad.

“This team has an amazing opportunity in front of them,” the coach said after the game.  “What they do with it is entirely up to them.”

The Chargers surrendered the first basket of the game to the Wildcats before reeling off 14 points of their own to take control of the game.  Big first half performances from Janet Bohannon and Meghan Pennock helped Craftsbury establish a dominant 22-6 lead after the first quarter of play.  That’s where things started to unravel. Continue reading

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In boys hockey: Rebels repel Falcon comeback bid

NC boys hockey slide

North Country’s Ross DeLaBruere neatly side-steps South Burlington defender Adam Weinheimer during Wednesday night’s Metro division contest at the Jay Peak Ice Haus. DeLaBruere’s three-point night was eclipsed only by South Burlington’s Matt Baechle who recorded the hat trick and an assist in South Burlington’s 4-3 win. Falcon teammate Ryan Paul contributed two goals including a short-handed tally. Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 1-9-2014

by Richard Creaser

JAY — The South Burlington Rebels came out on top of a chippy match against the host North Country Falcons at the Ice Haus in Jay on Wednesday night, January 8, with a final score of 4-3.  Penalties played a key role in the South Burlington win with two of the four goals coming with the man advantage and a third on a penalty shot.

The Rebels’ lone non-special teams goal came at 3:09 of the first period when Matt Baechle buried Liam Nieber’s feed past Falcon goalie Dana Marsh to record his first goal of the night.  Baechle would go on to add two more goals including the penalty shot en route to a four-point performance for the South Burlington senior. Continue reading

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In girls basketball: Falcons defense key in win over Lyndon

NC girls block

Falcon Mariah LaDeau (right) forces Lyndon Institute’s Samantha Smith to the outside during Saturday’s girls varsity match at North Country. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 1-7-2014

NEWPORT — The North Country Falcons picked up their second win of the season against the visiting Lyndon Institute Vikings on Saturday afternoon 41-29.  It also marks the team’s second win against rival LI this season as North Country improves to 2-3 on the year.  Coach Christiane Brown credits a strong defensive presence for Saturday’s win.

“Everyone contributed in some way or another,” Coach Brown said after the game.  “My stats calculator can keep track of a lot of things but the intensity and drive of my girls isn’t something that shows up in the stat sheet.  That’s what really made the difference today.” Continue reading

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