by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 2-26-2014
BARRE — The Craftsbury Academy Chargers accomplished something this season that hasn’t been done since 1990 — they earned a berth in the semi-finals in Barre. A sterling 18-1 record earned the Chargers the right to play in Barre, but they had the misfortune to draw the 20-2 Proctor Phantoms as their opponent. Proctor is playing for its third straight DIV title.
“You see why they’re the two-time state champions,” Craftsbury Coach Rick Thomas said after the game. “They’ve got a team around them that is absolutely relentless. We’ve never played a team like this that is just always in your face.”
Despite the seemingly lopsided score, 60-36, Craftsbury actually played a fairly good game. Indeed, Craftsbury managed to stake and hold a lead through the first quarter 15-10. Janet Bohannon landed two three-pointers in helping to create a lead that was 11-1 at one point.
But as defending state champs are capable of doing, the Phantoms steadily chipped away at Craftsbury’s lead. Craftsbury’s one bad quarter, the second, enabled Proctor to establish a lead and maintain it through the rest of the game. Jordan Mitchell was scorching hot nailing four three-pointers in the second quarter alone en route to leading her team with a game high 18 points.
“We had done well in our zone,” Coach Thomas said. “Once they started hitting perimeter threes, there wasn’t much we could do.”
Proctor’s smothering coverage and aggressive attack forced the Chargers into a position they are not especially familiar with — drawing fouls. It was a losing proposition as the Phantoms thrived from the foul line shooting 14 for 23 on the night, a 61 percent conversion rate. By comparison the Chargers shot only 4 for 11 or 36 percent. Adding to the struggle was losing Bohannon in the final half of the fourth quarter due to personal fouls.
“Losing Janet was a big blow to our offense,” Coach Thomas said. “Nobody else could get loose.”
Turnovers were a major factor working against Craftsbury, Coach Thomas said. The Phantoms excelled at stealing, blocking and running the ball up-court. Losing possession against a team as strong as Proctor was essentially conceding a basket, he said.
Despite seeing his team’s drive for the title halted, Coach Thomas remains optimistic about the future of Craftsbury’s basketball program. The loss of seniors Bohannon, Meghan Pennock, Thalia Thomas and Emma Spiese will hurt, but a strong foundation remains, he said.
“Here we are in Barre and I had complete confidence in the two eighth graders I had out there,” Coach Thomas said. “Lynn [Brown] and Mackenzie [Blaney] are two very talented players. You see what we are losing in our seniors but you also see what we are gaining.”
Coach Thomas also praised his team for how they handled themselves in a very tough match. No matter proctor’s reputation or the score, the Chargers went out and gave everything they had, he said.
“That speaks volumes to the intensity that they believe in themselves,” Coach Thomas said. “There’s no doubt that they came in here believing they could win. It didn’t turn out that way but it wasn’t for lack of effort.”
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