In boys basketball: Rangers edged out by Vikings in OT thriller

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Austin Roberge (left) watches helplessly as Jay Cobb flies toward the hoop in the Rangers overtime loss to the Vikings Friday. Cobb led all scorers with 27 points.  Photos by David Dudley

Austin Roberge (left) watches helplessly as Jay Cobb flies toward the hoop in the Rangers overtime loss to the Vikings Friday. Cobb led all scorers with 27 points. Photos by David Dudley

copyright the the Chronicle December 17, 2014

by David Dudley

LYNDON CENTER — The Lake Region Union High School Rangers were edged out on the road by the Lyndon Institute Vikings, 62-60, in an overtime thriller Friday. While Vikings senior Jay Cobb led all scorers with 27 points, it was Hunter Murray who stunned the crowd at Lyndon Center with a buzzer beater from beyond the arc to force overtime.

But in the beginning of the game, overtime wasn’t on anyone’s mind.

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In girls basketball: Lady Rangers defeat Olympians in season opener

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Emily Lawson (center) dishes in traffic against a young, aggressive Olympians squad Friday.  Also pictured are (from left) Karamae Hayman-Jones, Kayleigh Trojanowskio, Kaitlyn Lafaille, and Sara Walker.  Lawson scored 11 points against the Olympians.  Photos by David Dudley

Emily Lawson (center) dishes in traffic against a young, aggressive Olympians squad Friday. Also pictured are (from left) Karamae Hayman-Jones, Kayleigh Trojanowskio, Kaitlyn Lafaille, and Sara Walker. Lawson scored 11 points against the Olympians. Photos by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle December 10, 2014

by David Dudley

BARTON — The Lake Region Union High School Lady Rangers won their season opener against the Oxbow Olympians, 49-35, Friday. The final score may be misleading, as this game was a hard-fought, neck-and-neck battle up until the final moments of the fourth quarter.

Led by senior Tyrah Urie’s 16 points, with contributions from Emily Lawson (11 points), and Megan Menard (8 points), the Rangers put the clamps on the Olympians early in the game and never let up.

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In boys basketball playoffs: Ghosts fend off Ranger comeback bid

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Clint Provoncha (left) had an MVP-type performance in a losing cause as the Lake Region Rangers fell 70-59 to Dylan Jacobs (right) and the Randolph Galloping Ghosts on Thursday night.  A Lake Region senior, Provoncha's 24-point night would lead all scorers in what would be his final trip to the Barre Auditorium. Photo by Richard Creaser

Clint Provoncha (left) had an MVP-type performance in a losing cause as the Lake Region Rangers fell 70-59 to Dylan Jacobs (right) and the Randolph Galloping Ghosts on Thursday night. A Lake Region senior, Provoncha’s 24-point night would lead all scorers in what would be his final trip to the Barre Auditorium.
Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle March 7, 2014

by Richard Creaser

BARRE — The Lake Region Rangers (18-4) battled through 20 regular season and two playoff games to earn a berth in Thursday night’s semifinal at the Barre Auditorium.  Squaring off against the second-seeded Randolph Galloping Ghosts (20-2), there were no illusions about how tough a game this would be.  The DIII semifinal marked the first sell-out crowd of the Barre tournament, tournament officials told the Chronicle.

Both teams had fought hard to make it to Barre but only one would emerge to compete for the DIII crown.  On this night, with a 70-59 win, it would be the Ghosts.

“They play good ball pressure,” Ranger Clint Provoncha said of the Ghosts.  “They were really aggressive on defense and they never give up.”

Tenacity was the name of the game for both of these squads.  Though falling behind by a basket in the early goings, Lake Region managed a 7-2 lead until foul troubles upended the Ranger attack.  Halfway through the opening quarter, the Rangers had accrued five fouls.

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Lake Region wins Babe Ruth 13-year-old district title

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The Lake Region Babe Ruth 13-year-old All Stars were crowned district champs following a 19-9 win over Lyndonville at Lake Region Union High on Sunday.  With the win, the LR all-stars head to Brattleboro on July 19 to compete in the state tournament.  The members of the district champion squad are, back row, from left to right:  Coach Shawn Santaw, Mitchell Gonyaw, Kaleb Gibson, Liam Kennedy, Cole Azur, Hunter Marsh, Coach Greg Marsh, and Coach Jason Kennedy.  In the front, from left to right, are:  Brady Perron, Ryan Descheneau, Caleb Lanoue, Tanner Amyot, T.J. Santaw, and Noah Royer. Photo courtesy of Jason Kennedy

The Lake Region Babe Ruth 13-year-old All Stars were crowned district champs following a 19-9 win over Lyndonville at Lake Region Union High on Sunday. With the win, the LR all-stars head to Brattleboro on July 19 to compete in the state tournament. The members of the district champion squad are, back row, from left to right: Coach Shawn Santaw, Mitchell Gonyaw, Kaleb Gibson, Liam Kennedy, Cole Azur, Hunter Marsh, Coach Greg Marsh, and Coach Jason Kennedy. In the front, from left to right, are: Brady Perron, Ryan Descheneau, Caleb Lanoue, Tanner Amyot, T.J. Santaw, and Noah Royer.
Photo courtesy of Jason Kennedy

by Richard Creaser

ORLEANS — The tournament may have been small, but the competition wasn’t.  However, the Lake Region squad defeated Lyndonville to earn the Babe Ruth district three 13-year-old title over the weekend.  The two teams squared off at Lake Region Union High on Saturday and Sunday to determine the winner under scorching conditions.

“I’m not sure I could have gone out in that heat and played three games with that level of intensity,” Coach Jason Kennedy said Tuesday.  “I think they’re just a great group of young guys who really love the game of baseball.”

Even though there were only two teams vying for the title — the Lake Region team being composed of players from both the Lake Region and North Country Union High School areas — the competition still followed the double elimination tournament rules.  As such, the tournament played out more like a major league divisional series than a one and done playoff game.

The Lake Region squad struck first, taking the first game of the tournament 6-4.  That first game, it would later seem, was merely an effort to gauge each team’s strengths and weaknesses.  Lyndonville rebounded with a decisive 19-12 victory in game two, setting up a tense and exciting championship match on Sunday afternoon.
Lake Region would break out the big bats to post a five-inning, 19-9 victory to capture the district title and advance to Friday’s state tournament in Brattleboro.  Though the score may have seemed lopsided, taken as a whole both teams put up a tremendous effort, Coach Kennedy said.

“Our bats really came alive on Sunday,” he said.  “Both teams really hit the ball well all weekend.  We had to earn that win.”

Although the Lake Region squad is composed of players from different teams, finding that team chemistry wasn’t a big problem, Coach Kennedy said.  Many of the players had played against one another at different levels of baseball throughout their young careers.

“They may not have played together, but it’s not like they were meeting each other for the first time,” Coach Kennedy said.  “They all wanted to be there and to play baseball.  They have a drive and a desire to do well.”

The state tournament kicks off with Lake Region playing against host Brattleboro at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, July 19, at Brattleboro High.  The winner of the state tournament will move on to compete at the New England Regional Tournament in Manchester, New Hampshire, starting on July 26.

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

For a story on the 13-to-15-year-old Babe Ruth district tournament, click here.

For more free articles from the Chronicle like this one, see our Sports pages. For all the Chronicle’s stories, pick up a print copy or subscribe, either for print or digital editions.

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Cal Ripken tournament: Celebrating America’s pastime between weather delays

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Lake Region All-Star Dylan Gagnon sets for the play as Lake Region takes on Central Valley under the lights at the Barton Recreational Field on Friday night.  Photo by Richard Creaser

Lake Region All-Star Dylan Gagnon sets for the play as Lake Region takes on Central Valley under the lights at the Barton Recreational Field on Friday night. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

BARTON —  By any objective measure, the greater the number of delays, the harder it is for pitchers to stay warmed up.  Friday night, opening night of the Vermont U12 Cal Ripken Baseball tournament, was just such a night.  Fans and players alike sought what shelter they could find as the umpires cleared the playing field behind the Pierce Block in Barton Village.  Overhead menacing skies threatened, but so far, had failed to surrender anything more than loud noises.

Twice the game would be called for thunder delay, a mandatory period of 20 minutes to allow any danger of lightning strikes to pass.  Given the fact that tall light poles and chain link dugouts constituted the bulk of structures closest to the field, the precautions seemed justified.

No sooner had the second thunder delay come to an end when a light rain began to fall.  The players, coaches and umpires gamely took to the field, playing half an inning before the intensity of the rain increased and even the most die-hard of parents and fans scrambled to their cars, under the trees or, through forethought and good planning, popped open their umbrellas.  Game one of the tournament was off to a rather poor start.

Coming out of the third delay in as many innings, the field now given a good drenching, the quality of play suffered somewhat.  Pitchers struggled to control sopping wet baseballs from atop a greasy mound.  The ring of aluminum bat on plastic cleats became a familiar sound as the players took breaks to remove the accumulated muck from their spikes.

“I got a lot of dirt stuck in my cleats,” Hartford reliever Chris Nulty acknowledged.  “I was having a hard time staying on the mound.  I would throw and then start to slip.”

Nulty was the second pitcher to take the mound for Hartford, Hunter Perkins having been pulled after an accumulated hour-long delay.  Though Nulty struggled, loading the bases and allowing North Country to tie up the game, he was far from defeated.  Nulty went on to record a three-run inside the park home run to begin Hartford’s rally from a long, painful inning.

North Country All-Star Aiden Gariepy takes to the mound against the Hartford All-Stars as second baseman Derrick Breault looks on.  A series of thunder and rain delays extended the opening round of the tournament on Friday night.  Photo by Richard Creaser

North Country All-Star Aiden Gariepy takes to the mound against the Hartford All-Stars as second baseman Derrick Breault looks on. A series of thunder and rain delays extended the opening round of the tournament on Friday night. Photo by Richard Creaser

North Country’s Aiden Gariepy, though subjected to the same routine dashing delays as his Hartford counterpart, would likewise struggle to recover his form.  Fastballs adopted unexpected movement, jinking and juking like knuckleballs, rising or dropping unexpectedly.  The role of the catcher became one less of calling pitches and catching strikes than one of simply arresting the ball’s forward momentum and hoping to keep it out in front.

Hartford moved on to the winner’s bracket, ousting North Country 15-5 in five innings.  Despite the ten-run mercy-ruled game, an hour of delays pushed back the start of game two.

The slick conditions persisted into the evening portion of the tournament as the Lake Region All-Stars took on Central Valley.  The lights, coupled with a persistent haze, gave the outfield a rather Field of Dreams quality.  However, what came out of the shrubbery on this night was not Shoeless Joe Jackson but, rather, a determined and ravenous horde of mosquitoes.

Despite the weather and the little miseries that accompanied them — or perhaps because of an ample supply of popcorn and hot dogs provided by the Barton Academy and Graded School’s eighth grade class — the players returned to the field and the fans got up and stretched, tried to dry out a bit, and went back to the business of baseball.

It was a sentiment shared by the players.  The night game has a certain mystique about it, recalling the major leagues and all those golden heroes of the diamond.  Maybe it’s just a function of the background being lost behind the lights, but everyone seems to stand a little taller.  There are no network TV cameras, but the dim glow of shaky handy cams and  the luminescent sparkle of camera phone flashes fills the night.

“This is my second one,” Lake Region catcher Parker Perron says of night games.  “You don’t really do anything different.  You just don’t want to look right at the lights.”

Lake Region All-Star Parker Perron (right) takes a short lead as Central Valley All-Star first baseman Chris Frost and base umpire Mike Wise prepare for the next play during Friday night's action.  Photo by Richard Creaser

Lake Region All-Star Parker Perron (right) takes a short lead as Central Valley All-Star first baseman Chris Frost and base umpire Mike Wise prepare for the next play during Friday night’s action. Photo by Richard Creaser

Tracking pop-ups and running down baseballs in the outfield are probably the hardest parts of night baseball, he said.  The lights tend to be off to the sides and pose little problem for the catcher, he added.

The night game also holds the power to magically ward off bedtime, a fact not lost on the players.  Rian Hayman-Jones marveled at the hour when his walk-off three-run inside the park home run allowed the Lake Region team put away Central Valley 11-0.

“It’s pretty fun to be out playing baseball at 11 o’clock at night,” Hayman-Jones said afterward.

Adding to the fun was a strong sense of teamwork that enabled Lake Region to advance to the winners bracket.  A loss to North Country in the district playoffs spurred the Lake Region squad to do better, Hayman-Jones said.

“Losing that game made us work harder as a team,” Hayman-Jones said.  “We just had to work harder and play better.”

Despite being made up of players from Glover, Barton and Irasburg, the Lake Region All-Stars played as if they had spent the entire season together.  Indeed, this U12 team is largely composed of the same players who came within one out of being the U10 state champions two years earlier, Coach Jethro Hayman said.

North Country All-Star Briley Carter sheds water during a rain-delayed third inning on Friday night.  North Country would fall 15-5 in the opening round of the U12 Cal Ripken state tournament.  Photo by Richard Creaser

North Country All-Star Briley Carter sheds water during a rain-delayed third inning on Friday night. North Country would fall 15-5 in the opening round of the U12 Cal Ripken state tournament. Photo by Richard Creaser

“Some kids have gone and others come in, but this is basically the same team,” Mr. Hayman said.  “They’re very close.  They’re like brothers, and it shows.”

Like brothers, some of their dugout chatter spoke of their fellowship.  Parker Perron admired a bat and asked Parker Brown, the bat’s owner, if he could use it in his next at-bat.

“You don’t have to ask,” Brown replied.  “Unless you’re gonna use it to hit rocks or something.”

That good-natured rivalry and the spirit of fellowship that is the game of baseball would prevail.  Bernie Gonyaw, the state commissioner for Vermont Cal Ripken Baseball summed it up best.

“What better way to spend a Friday night than to spend it watching baseball under the lights?” Mr. Gonyaw mused.  “It’s the only place to be.”

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

For an article on the tournament champions, click here.

For more free articles from the Chronicle like this one, see our Sports pages. For all the Chronicle’s stories, pick up a print copy or subscribe, either for print or digital editions.

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In baseball playoffs: Hot-hitting Rangers double up Highlanders

Lake Region's Josh Locke laid down a perfect bunt and beat out the throw to set the stage for the Rangers' four-run first inning on Tuesday.  Lake Region took on visiting Harwood Highlanders in boys Division II playdowns and advanced to Friday's quarterfinals with an 8-4 win over Harwood.  Photos by Richard Creaser

Lake Region’s Josh Locke laid down a perfect bunt and beat out the throw to set the stage for the Rangers’ four-run first inning on Tuesday. Lake Region took on visiting Harwood Highlanders in boys Division II playdowns and advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals with an 8-4 win over Harwood. Photos by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle June 5, 2013

ORLEANS — The Lake Region Rangers (11-5) hot-hitting ways continued Tuesday as they faced the visiting Harwood Highlanders (8-7) in the first round of Division II baseball playdowns.  The Rangers rapped out ten hits against three Highlander pitchers en route to a convincing 8-4 win.

“I feel like that was our best hitting game this year,” Rangers freshman second baseman Kolby George said after the game.  “I really liked batting today — lots of nice, straight pitches.”

George’s early at bats may have contributed to the early departure of Highlander starter Ty Delphia.  George battled his way through 11 pitches in the first at bat for the home team before launching a double deep against the centerfield wall.

“I knew our guys were going to hit it,” Coach Eric Degre said after the game.  “We’ve been really dialed in at the plate.  Today we worked the pitch count and took advantage of our opportunities.”

Coach Degre took a chance using his number two starter, Dustin Bathalon, opting to save flame throwing starter Matt Messier’s arm for later in the playoffs.  It was a good call, as Bathalon pitched six innings surrendering four runs, only three of them earned.

“Dustin was pretty awesome,” Coach Degre said.  “He’s been pitching pretty well all year.”

Though Lake Region has played a primarily Division III schedule and Harwood a Division II schedule, Coach Degre was confident that his team was up to the challenge.  Tuesday’s game was the first match-up between Harwood and Lake Region this year.

“I don’t care who you play,” Coach Degre said.  “You still have to catch, pitch, throw and hit to win the game.  We knew what we needed to do to win, and we did it.”

Solid defense and hot hitting have been key elements in Lake Region's late season surge.  Here Ranger Sam Barbeau snags the throw as Harwood Highlander Matthew Fischer charges down the first base path.

Solid defense and hot hitting have been key elements in Lake Region’s late season surge. Here Ranger Sam Barbeau snags the throw as Harwood Highlander Matthew Fischer charges down the first base path.

Despite never having faced Harwood before and fielding a relatively young team, the Rangers were not in the least intimidated by their opponents, George said.

“I knew they would be a similar sort of team,” George said.  “They would play a lot like us.  We knew this was a playoff game and I figured we’d step it up.”

The Highlanders got on the board early as Lucas Russell came around to score on Dylan MacIsaac’s RBI single in the top of the first.  The Rangers would respond by bringing around four batters to jump out to an early 4-1 lead.

The Rangers endured some costly defensive lapses that allowed Harwood to tie the game at four apiece in the second inning.  Despite those costly errors, the Rangers rallied back.

“I always talk to the guys about dealing with adversity,” Coach Degre said.  “They know how to handle it.  They’re very supportive of each other.”

Lake Region reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third after Logan Harper reached on a single and advanced to third on a pair of brilliantly executed stolen bases.  With the bases loaded and one out, Highlander Coach Mitch Casey made a pitching change and brought in Dominic Moreno to relieve Dephia.  Though Moreno retired the first batter he faced, he plunked Alex Beauregard to bring in the go-ahead run before inducing a groundball out to end the inning.

Lake Region plated two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to cement their lead, and add their eighth and final run in the bottom of the sixth.  Bathalon continued to pitch into the top of the seventh before a single and an error put men on the corners.  Coach Degre let Messier take the mound.

Messier struck out all three batters he faced to secure the win and help the Rangers advance to the quarter-final round.  With the win the Rangers will face either number two seed Otter Valley or number 15 Montpelier High on Friday, June 7.

“To advance to the quarter finals with such a young team really feels wonderful,” Coach Degre said.  “They’re young but their learning.”

Contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

 For more free articles from the Chronicle like this one, see our Sports pages. For all the Chronicle’s stories, pick up a print copy or subscribe, either for print or digital editions.

 

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