by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 2-23-2014
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.
“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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
– Richard Creaser