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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In boys baseball: Whitcomb lefty ends Chargers comeback

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Craftsbury Charger Iva Wright lays down a textbook bunt during Friday night's varsity match between the Chargers and the visiting Whitcomb Hornets.  Due to insufficient numbers to field a softball team, Wright and Sarah Dunbar have earned spots on the boys' varsity baseball squad.  The team is further bolstered by the addition of two United Christian Academy students — Jon DeLaBruere and Marc Quirion. Photos by Richard Creaser

Craftsbury Charger Iva Wright lays down a textbook bunt during Friday night’s varsity match between the Chargers and the visiting Whitcomb Hornets. Due to insufficient numbers to field a softball team, Wright and Sarah Dunbar have earned spots on the boys’ varsity baseball squad. The team is further bolstered by the addition of two United Christian Academy students — Jon DeLaBruere and Marc Quirion.
Photos by Richard Creaser

copyright the chronicle 05-08-13

by Richard Creaser

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — Whitcomb High lefty Bradford Allen gave the visiting Hornets just what they needed to secure the win over the host Craftsbury Academy Chargers on Friday night.  Allen would close out the game for Hornets starter Cody Snelling and shut down the Chargers offense with a pair of three-up, three-down innings to give Whitcomb the 11-9 victory.

“They’ve never faced a lefty before and I don’t expect they are likely to see another,” Craftsbury Coach Dan Locke said of his team after the game.  “He was just lights out.  He did what they needed done.”

Craftsbury got off to a fine start taking advantage of stolen bases to plate three runs in the first inning to give the home team an early 3-0 lead.  Those would be the last runs that Whitcomb’s Snelling would allow for the next four innings.

Speedy Craftsbury Charger Caleb Paquette burns down the first baseline and beats out the throw to Whitcomb Hornet Sam Ennis during Friday's varsity baseball game in Craftsbury Common.  Whitcomb would go on to win the game 11-9.

Speedy Craftsbury Charger Caleb Paquette burns down the first baseline and beats out the throw to Whitcomb Hornet Sam Ennis during Friday’s varsity baseball game in Craftsbury Common. Whitcomb would go on to win the game 11-9.

Pitching for Craftsbury, Brandon Locke had a puzzlingly inconsistent outing.  At times Brandon Locke seemed dominant striking out six batters through five innings of play.  That compares markedly when held against a pair of hit batsmen, a series of walks and wild pitches that allowed Whitcomb to grab the advantage.

“We need to work on the walks and hit by pitch,” Coach Locke said.  “On the whole I think we were pretty solid pitching wise and our defense held up for the most part.  Whitcomb was able to take advantage of some mistakes and it cost us.”

The Hornets would respond with an offensive barrage of their own in the second inning, tying up the game.  The Hornets would take the lead in the top of the third before exploding for four more runs in the top of the fourth and another in the top of the fifth.  Despite being down six runs with more than half of the game already in the books, the Chargers never gave up hope.

Whitcomb's Alex Messier (center) successfully defends the plate against Craftsbury's Iva Wright during the first inning of the varsity baseball game on Friday night.  Wright's Charger teammate Marc Quirion (foreground) observes after stepping away from the batter's box.  Despite a valiant comeback the Chargers would fall shy and Whitcomb would claim the win 11-9.

Whitcomb’s Alex Messier (center) successfully defends the plate against Craftsbury’s Iva Wright during the first inning of the varsity baseball game on Friday night. Wright’s Charger teammate Marc Quirion (foreground) observes after stepping away from the batter’s box. Despite a valiant comeback the Chargers would fall shy and Whitcomb would claim the win 11-9.

“We were always trying to get back into it, ” Charger Jeremiah Lasher said after the game.  “We knew we were down but we never thought that we couldn’t get back.  We just had to play harder.”

Brandon Locke helped out his own cause by singling and taking advantage of a fielding error allowing him to reach second.  A stolen base later and he was only one stop away from scoring.  Caleb Paquette accepted the challenge and singled Locke in from third.  United Christian Academy’s Marc Quirion, playing for the Chargers, beat out an infield single to put two on for Craftsbury.  Snelling would retire the next two batters before Lasher chopped a hot-shot down the third base line that bounced over Whitcomb’s Matt Townsend and into left field.  That shot would drive in both Paquette and Quirion to cut the Hornets’ lead to 9-6.

Frank Spiese replaced Brandon Locke on the mound in the top of the sixth inning.  Spiese would allow the first two batters to score before stranding a man on third and concluding the inning with a strikeout.  Whitcomb now led the game 11-6.

With Josh Coville and Austin Masi on base, Brandon Locke would again come through at the plate and drive in Coville with an RBI double.  It would prove to be the beginning of the end for Snelling as he surrendered three consecutive walks, including bringing home Masi and Brandon Locke on base on balls.

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Whitcomb’s Bradford Allen gets caught looking on a called third strike from Craftsbury Charger Brandon Locke (not pictured) to catcher Jeremiah Lasher. Allen would get his revenge by shutting down Craftsbury in order through the final two innings of the game to preserve Whitcomb’s 11-9 lead.

As Allen took the mound for the Hornets he inherited three runners and no outs and a slender two run lead.  He proved up to the task, retiring the first two batters on strikes before fielding a soft chop and throwing out the runner at first to end the threat.

The Chargers’ Spiese settled into his role in the top of the seventh, allowing only a single base runner while striking out two to close out Whitomb’s chances on the day.  Unfortunately for the home team, Allen continued his dominance mowing down the Craftsbury batters in order to earn the save and preserve Snelling’s win.

“We had some trouble finishing up,” Coach Locke said after the game.  “We weren’t able to get those guys in from second base or third base.  We were hitting it hard but it was just right at them.”

Coach Locke commended his team on remaining focused on the game.  Being down six runs and five runs makes it difficult to stay focused especially for a team as young as the Chargers, he said.

“You have to learn how to win with grace and you also need to learn to lose with grace,” Coach Locke said.  “It might not have gone the way I had hoped but I’m proud of them.  There’s something positive to take away from this game.”

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

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In girls basketball: Arlington Eagles beat CA Chargers in quarter-finals

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Meghan Pennock (number 12), Craftsbury’s captain, answers the question posed by the sign behind her emphatically in the affirmative as she drives to the hoop.  The junior and her teammates fell short Saturday in their bid to advance to the Division IV semi-finals in Barre.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Meghan Pennock (number 12), Craftsbury’s captain, answers the question posed by the sign behind her emphatically in the affirmative as she drives to the hoop. The junior and her teammates fell short Saturday in their bid to advance to the Division IV semi-finals in Barre. Photo by Joseph Gresser

by Joseph Gresser

copyright 3-10-2013

CRAFTSBURY COMMON—When it was all over Saturday afternoon Coach Rick Thomas was smiling.  True, his Chargers team had been mauled by Arlington Memorial High School, 28-57, in the quarter-finals of the Division IV championships.  But, he said, the Craftsbury women won the school’s tournament and league championship.

They also boasted a 16-4 regular season record.

Although they won’t play at the Barre Auditorium this season, the future looks bright for the Chargers, Mr. Thomas said.  All of this year’s players will be back next year, and the scrappy team includes a pair of eighth graders, which suggests a long run of basketball success.  A run of hoop good fortune would fit nicely with the glorious new World War II Memorial Gymnasium built by the people of Craftsbury last year.

On this Saturday, however the basketball gods smiled on the Arlington Eagles.

They fouled Janet Bohannon as she took her first shot, but paid no price when she was unable to make good either of her three throws.  Back on defense, the Chargers played tight defense inside, but made the mistake of letting Arlington’s Rayleen Sherman get a look from outside.

Sherman sunk a three-pointer to put the Eagles ahead for good.  She proved a dangerous player to leave, dropping in 12 of her 16 points from downtown.

The outside shot was a potent weapon for Arlington.  Almost half of their scoring — 27 points — came from the long ball.

While none of the Chargers could equal Sherman’s total, Aysha Hodgdon and Bohannon inflicted real damage on the Eagles, scoring 12 and 9 points respectively.  They, along with teammates Sarah Dunbar, Meghan Brown and Meghan Pennock distinguished themselves with tenacious defense.

Craftsbury’s relative youth showed itself as the team fell behind.  Players pressed hard on offense, rushing shots instead of relaxing and slowing the pace to make the most of their chances.

They harried the Eagles on defense and forced numerous turnovers, but were unable to take fullest advantage of those opportunities.

By the end of the first period Craftsbury had fallen behind by 8-17.  The second period also began badly for the Chargers with the Eagles scoring a quick 5 points.

After that both teams bore down hard on defense.  For the next three minutes neither team was able to score and it seemed as if Craftsbury was ready to make its move.

Unfortunately it was Arlington that broke the log jam, scoring an additional ten to Craftsbury’s two, ending the half at 10-27.

The third period went much as did the second, but Craftsbury also began to make defensive mistakes that put the team in foul trouble.  The period closed with Craftsbury trailing 15-41.

By the start of the fourth period, with the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt, the Chargers showed their mettle.  Playing for pride they swarmed the Eagles forcing turn overs.

It was in the fourth quarter that Craftsbury scored its only run of unanswered points, scoring three successive baskets.  But a miraculous win was not to be.

During the after-game meeting with Mr. Thomas, the players looked anything but down cast.  They had a fine season and never gave up, even when it was clear that victory would not be theirs.  Such a spirit presages great things for the future.

contact Joseph Gresser at joseph@bartonchronicle.com

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