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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In Nordic skiing: Night relays show lighter side of competitive skiing

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It’s not every day that a tiger tags off the relay to his short-necked giraffe Nordic ski partner.  And yet that is precisely what happened when Lyndon Institute's Daniel Chen (right) tagged Jayan Xie at the North Country-hosted night relays in Craftsbury on Thursday. Photo by Richard Creaser

It’s not every day that a tiger tags off the relay to his short-necked giraffe Nordic ski partner. And yet that is precisely what happened when Lyndon Institute’s Daniel Chen (right) tagged Jayan Xie at the North Country-hosted night relays in Craftsbury.  Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 2-17-2013

CRAFTSBURY — The lighting was dim, the footing uneven, and the quest seemingly impossible — locating Supergirl and a pink winged fairy.  North Country Union High School’s annual night relay on Thursday, February 14, at times seemed less a competitive cross-country skiing event and more like a vignette from a Hunter S. Thompson story, at least to the uninitiated.

The night relay is an annual event, normally held at the track at North Country proper.  But due to limited snow cover, the event was moved to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.  Staggering down the hill through deeper snow, on account of having overlooked the perfectly groomed paths leading down to the relay area, I was greeted by a polar bear, a bumblebee, and two girls in grass skirts.  I thought I had crashed the wrong event.

Coming across a journalist acquaintance, I discovered that costumes and revelry are actually part and parcel of the North Country night relay experience.  A group of nearby Falcon varsity racers were quick to confirm this.

North Country's skiing executive Dan Decelles cruises downhill during Thursday night's North Country-hosted night relays held at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

North Country’s skiing executive Dan Decelles cruises downhill during Thursday night’s North Country-hosted night relays held at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

“I’m not sure when it started, but it’s been going on long before we were in high school,” senior Brian DeLaBruere said.  “There are a lot of hills and features that you normally wouldn’t encounter in Nordic skiing.  It’s fun and it’s a nice change.”

“It’s also kind of neat that it’s under the lights,” Laura Smith added.

Asked why costumes became a part of the event, Jade Dandurand looked quizzical before responding, “Why not?”

The night relays are quite unlike most other Nordic events the North Country squad encounters in the run of a racing season.  Relays are a part of the experience and, weather permitting, night relays occur as well.  But nothing is ever quite like the North Country-hosted event.

“It’s a little more carefree than most of the other races,” Dan Decelles said.  “Everyone has a chance to relax before heading off to the state championships.  It’s fun but everyone is still here to compete.”

Craftsbury Academy’s boys duo of Anders Hanson and Jacob Morse took third place, only one minute and eight seconds off the pace of Mt. Mansfield’s first-place team of Wylie Picotte and Ben Hegman.  North Country took eighth and ninth place in the two-man relays with Alex Cotnoir and Sam Brunette, finishing 22 seconds ahead of Dan Decelles and Brian DeLaBruere with times of 21:35 and 21:57, respectively.  Craftsbury’s Kestrel Owens and his partner Matthew Lawlor finished tenth with a time of 22:48.

Falcon Haley Jo Tetreault tackles the miniature snow mountain.  Tetreault's salt designation paired with her partner Adele Woodmansee's pepper.  Scuttlebutt around the North Country camp indicated that plans for aluminum foil headgear fell through.

Falcon Haley Jo Tetreault tackles the miniature snow mountain. Tetreault’s salt designation paired with her partner Adele Woodmansee’s pepper. Scuttlebutt around the North Country camp indicated that plans for aluminum foil headgear fell through.

In the girls’ varsity race, Falcons Haley Jo Tetreault and Adele Woodmansee finished sixth overall with a time of 24:30, two minutes and 53 seconds behind event winners Molly Larson and Amy Bruce of Mt. Mansfield.  Fellow Falcons Laura Smith and Jade Dandurand finished with a time of 27 minutes.  Craftsbury Academy’s Olivia Jones and Sabrina Thomas finished with a time of 31:14.

In the mixed relay, Mt. Mansfield again came out on top with the team of Wylie Picotte, Ben Hegman, Tiana Bibb, and Annavitte Rand finishing first with a time of 9:54.  The Falcons would finish fifth and sixth, with the team of Haley Jo Tetreault, Adele Woodmansee, Alex Cotnoir, and Sam Brunette edging out the team of Laura Smith, Jade Dandurand, Dan Decelles, and Brian DeLaBruere with times of 11:16 and 11:30, respectively.  A combined team of St. Johnsbury Academy and North Country racers Callum Hening, Sophie Martin, Patrick Lawlor, and Brianna Grimm finished ninth with a time of 12:29, while the Craftsbury team of Olivia Jones, Jacob Morse, Sabrina Thomas, and Anders Hanson finished eleventh overall with a time of 12:31.

In the junior varsity races, North Country’s Alex Cope and Fred Petzoldt finished second only two seconds behind event winners Mt. Mansfield’s Liam Ossler and Keegan Cummings with times of 11:41 and 11:39, respectively.  Top Falcons girls JV racers were Rebeka Young and Brianna Grimm with a time of 15:44.  Mt. Mansfield again claimed top honors behind the performance of Acadia Dinardo and Claire Julianelle who completed the race with a time of 12:29.

It was, at times, difficult to keep a straight face throughout the race.  Where else would two ninjas, a pirate and a ladybug clamber up a hill dominated by a cougar and a man in a neon green vest?  Where else could you show Supergirl a photo and discover that this is not the Supergirl you’ve been looking for?

On a night of costumed mayhem Lamoille Union's Kelly Kryzak was one of two caped champions to tackle the quirky Nordic track at North Country's night relays in Craftsbury.  Kryzak's race partner, Clare Salerno, was the second Supergirl.

On a night of costumed mayhem Lamoille Union’s Kelly Kryzak was one of two caped champions to tackle the quirky Nordic track at North Country’s night relays in Craftsbury. Kryzak’s race partner, Clare Salerno, was the second Supergirl.

And, for those who have ever wondered, a collision between a skier and a polar bear doesn’t always have to end badly.  Sometimes the two participants simply get up, shake the snow off, utter quick apologies and continue on their way.  It’s true, I saw it happen myself.

Spying a young man wearing a Cat in the Hat hat, I figured he would probably be the kind of person to put this whole experience into perspective.  As Cat in the Hat hats go, it was among the finest examples of its kind, a fact attributable, no doubt, to its origins as a mother-made piece of millinery.

“I honestly don’t know how it stayed on my head,” Fred Petzoldt admitted.  “There were a few hills, a lot of little bumps, and you could get some good speed coming into the homestretch.  But it stayed on the whole time.”

Mr. Petzoldt became momentarily distracted when a five-foot-and-change tall bumblebee passed by.  The distraction was not his alone, however.  After a pause, we resumed our conversation.

“This is actually my first year in Nordic skiing so I’ve never seen this before,” Mr. Petzoldt said.  “But I like it.  It’s a lot of fun.”

North Country’s night relays aren’t the sort of thing that most people expect to see at a high school Nordic meet and that’s perfectly okay.  Amidst the pressure to succeed and the mental and physical toll racing takes on a body, sometimes it’s nice to relax and let it all hang out, even if it is in a samurai costume.

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com.

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In girls basketball: CA improves to 12-4 with win over Rochester

by Harris Kinsey

copyright the Chronicle 2-11-2013

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — Coming off a loss, the Craftsbury Academy girls varsity basketball team hoped to get a win at home against Rochester.  They played hard all four quarters, and came out on top in a 55-28 win.  Janet Bohannon led all scorers with 23 points, and Thaila Thomas added 16 points for the Chargers.  Phoebe Parrish led Rochester with 11 points but had no help, as the Charger defense was very good all game long.

The first quarter started well for Craftsbury with Sarah Dunbar connecting on a layup to go up 2-0.  It was very obvious after that first basket it was going to be a struggle for Rochester.  Craftsbury dominated the quarter on the defensive end.  They forced turnover after turnover on bad passes, travels, and out of bounds.  Craftsbury didn’t allow Rochester to score until the 1:30 mark on a free throw by Sierra Ostrow–Remy.  Rochester would only score five points in the quarter while Craftsbury scored 13 points.  The first quarter ended with the score 13-5 in favor of Craftsbury.

The second quarter started and no one scored until Savannah Shepard of Rochester connected on a jumper at the 6:50 mark in the quarter.  Craftsbury would finally score at the 5:40 mark on a layup by Bohannon.  Both defenses played well in the quarter.  Rochester forced some turnovers, as did Craftsbury.  Craftsbury would score 10 points in the second quarter while Rochester almost matched them with eight points.  At halftime the score stood at 23-13 Craftsbury.

The second half started fast as Craftsbury would score only 37 seconds in on a layup by Thomas.  Craftsbury 25, Rochester 13.  Their defense would be very good again and they held Rochester scoreless until the 5:10 mark when Parrish connected on a jumper.  Craftsbury’s defense forced many turnovers in this quarter. Mainly they closed the passing lanes and forced Rochester to throw passes into crowds, and force their passes.  Rochester couldn’t do anything right in the third quarter and scored only six points, while Craftsbury scored 14 points as a team.  After three quarters the score stood at 37-19 Craftsbury.

The Craftsbury girls seemed confident going into the fourth quarter, and they did not disappoint.  Rochester would get the first score of the quarter on a layup by Ostrow-Remy.  However, Craftsbury would answer right back when Bohannon scored on a layup to put them back up by 18.  Craftsbury 39, Rochester 21.  Craftsbury’s defense would continue to dominate as the girls showed no sign of tiredness.  They held Rochester to nine points in the quarter and Craftsbury scored 18.  The game ended with the score 55-28 in favor of Craftsbury.

After the game, Coach Rick Thomas said, “I am very happy with the way we played.  We played some of the best lock down defense I’ve seen us play all year.  We forced 21 turnovers, so we were great in all aspects of our defense.  It was a team effort.”

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In boys basketball: Chargers struggle, fall to Rochester

by Harris Kinsey

copyright the Chronicle 2-11-2013

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — Coming off a loss to Richford, the Craftsbury Academy boys varsity hoped to get a win at home against Rochester.  They tried but came up well short in a 74-27 loss.  Pavin Parrish of Rochester led all scorers with 31 points and he had well balanced scoring behind him as Rochester did a great job sharing the basketball.  Kyle Adams led Craftsbury with 14 points but the other players just couldn’t get anything done.  Craftsbury looked lost all game playing without their point guard Alex Vetere, due to injury, and this game was an indication that they badly need him.

The first quarter started out fast for Rochester as Parrish would score only 32 seconds into the quarter when he connected on a three-pointer to put Rochester up 3-0.  Craftsbury did not score until the 2:08 mark on a jumper by Brandon Locke.  Rochester would score 19 points in the quarter.  Craftsbury, not having Vetere, could not get organized, and scored only five points.  The first quarter ended with the score 19-5 in favor of Rochester.

The second quarter would start off fast again for Rochester with Parrish connecting on a layup only 40 seconds into the quarter.  Craftsbury would not score until the 4:50 mark when Frank Spiese made a layup for Craftsbury’s first score.  Play was stopped for a little while in the second quarter when Parrish scored a basket for his high school career point number 1,500.  The game picked up where it left off, and Rochester scored 23 points in the second to 6 points for Craftsbury.  The first half ended with Rochester leading 42-11.

Coming out from the locker room, Craftsbury hoped to shake off the struggles of the first half.  However Rochester would score only a minute into the quarter on a layup by Parrish.  Rochester’s defense was dominant.  They forced turnover after turnover.  Bad passes and forced plays by Craftsbury continued to be the story of the game as they continued to struggle, not having an established point guard on the floor.  Craftsbury would score only four points in the quarter, while Rochester again scored in double digits in a quarter with 15 points.  The third quarter ended with the score 57-15 in favor of Rochester.

The fourth quarter started fast again for Rochester as they scored only 12  seconds into the quarter on a layup by Tanner Pratt.  Their defense again took over and took advantage of Craftsbury, who, without Vetere to calm them down and direct play, seemed scattered and rushed.  Rochester again dominated and scored 17 points in the quarter, and held Craftsbury to 12 points.  The game ended with Rochester winning 74-27.

After the game, Coach Rick Thomas said, “We are struggling right now and playing scattered because we don’t have Vetere.  He is our calming presence and not having him for the rest of the season is going to be a struggle.  We just have to figure out how to play without him.”

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In boys hockey: Essex defeats Falcons in comeback win

North Country Falcon Chris Bronson turns in a sterling glove save during the Falcons' match against the visiting Essex Hornets on Saturday night.  Flanking Bronson on the play are Hornet Joey Robertson (far left), Falcon Ben Pecue and Hornet Steve Jurkiewicz.  Photo by Richard Creaser

North Country Falcon Chris Bronson turns in a sterling glove save during the Falcons’ match against the visiting Essex Hornets on Saturday night. Flanking Bronson on the play are Hornet Joey Robertson (far left), Falcon Ben Pecue and Hornet Steve Jurkiewicz. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright 2-13-2013

JAY — The North Country Falcons (10-4-1) came out on the wrong end in a match-up of top five Metro Division teams in boys hockey action on Saturday night as they lost 3-2 against the visiting Essex Hornets (11-2-2).  The game featured solid goaltending on both sides as Chris Bronson patrolled the net for North Country and Brock Paquette manned the pipes for Essex.

Saturday’s contest at the Ice Haus in Jay displayed some of the finest hockey action fans for either side could have expected.  The game’s officials appeared content to let the teams play a physical — though far from goonish — game.  Hard hits, slick skating and dynamic playmaking kept the two sides close throughout the contest.

The Falcons have scored five or more goals in nine of their ten wins and have yet to be shut out by any opponent.  By contrast, and with only a few exceptions, Essex has proven itself a capable defensive team whose wins generally turn on low-scoring affairs including a 1-0 shutout win over top seeded South Burlington.  Saturday’s match would be a contest that would pit North Country’s high flying offense against the Hornets’ smothering defense.

Scoring opportunities would be at a premium on Saturday night.  As if realizing the enormity of the challenge, the Falcons took advantage of an early power play opportunity.  Ross DeLaBruere would record the power play goal at 7:06 of the first period to give the Falcons the early lead.  Nathan Marsh provided the assist.

The teams would remain dead even through the second period, as the two teams battled to a scoreless draw.  North Country had a few solid scoring chances on breakaways but were unable to beat Hornet net minder Paquette to increase their lead.

“We didn’t really give them a lot of quality scoring chances,” Falcons Coach Andrew Roy said after the game.  “We were able to keep them on the wings, out of the front of the net.  We played 30 minutes of good hockey and then got a little sloppy in the final period.”

North Country's Adam Viens (center right) completes a mid-ice check against Essex Hornet Tom Vanzo as Hornets Brody Almeida (left) and Luc LeBlanc look on during Saturday night's match.  Photo by Richard Creaser

North Country’s Adam Viens (center right) completes a mid-ice check against Essex Hornet Tom Vanzo as Hornets Brody Almeida (left) and Luc LeBlanc look on during Saturday night’s match. Photo by Richard Creaser

The Falcons received a boost in the third period when Adam Viens wrangled the puck past Paquette to give North Country a 2-0 lead a mere 47 seconds into the period.  It appeared that the Falcons had the game well in hand until the Hornets struck at 5:03.  Tom Fogg snuck one past Bronson to cut the Falcons’ lead in half.

Four minutes later the wheels came off the bus for North Country.  Penalties to DeLaBruere and Viens 37 seconds apart gave Essex a 5 on 3 advantage.  Those penalties had a greater effect on the outcome of the game than fatigue brought on by a short bench, Coach Roy said.

“I don’t think it was tired legs or anything else,” Coach Roy said.  “We made some key mistakes out there tonight and it cost us.  It’s a tough loss to swallow.”

Though North Country would hang in and kill off the penalties, Essex took advantage of the post-power play confusion to strike.  A mere 16 seconds after Viens came out of the box Luc LeBlanc would deflect in a shot from Nate Foice to tie up the game at 2-2.

The collapse would be complete when, with 1:22 remaining to play, Steve Jurkewiecz buried a pass from Joey Robertson and Brody Almeida to cap off the Hornets’ comeback win.

Despite the heartbreaking loss Coach Roy was not discouraged with his team’s chances heading toward the post-season.

“If we can avoid making those mistakes we can play with anyone,” Coach Roy said.  “There’s no reason we can’t be the top team in the state.”

The Falcons play two more home games against BFA-St. Albans on Wednesday, February 13,  at 6 p.m. and Rutland on February 16 at 7 p.m. before finishing out the regular season with three road games against Rice Memorial, Middlebury and Champlain Valley Union on February 20, 23 and 26 respectively.

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

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In girls hockey: Falcons rally to beat U-32 Raiders

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girls hockey Morley

North Country’s Taylor Morley (left) bolts down ice past U-32 defender Rachel Ebersole during Saturday night’s varsity match-up at the Ice Haus in Jay. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 2-13-2013

JAY — Though the visiting U-32 Raiders may have struggled throughout the season, they certainly brought their A-game to the Ice Haus at Jay on Saturday as they took on the home town North Country Falcons girls hockey team.  In the midst of an ugly eight-game losing streak it seemed the Raiders (2-12) would prove little difficulty for the second-ranked Falcons (13-3-1).  Earlier in the season the Falcons had shut out the Raiders 2-0.

“I don’t think this was a bad game for us,” North Country Coach Claude Paul said after the game.  “They played a very good game as opposed to us playing down.  Their goaltending was excellent tonight.”

girls hockey scrum

Throughout the contest the Falcons continued to apply tremendous pressure on U-32 goalie Cheyenne Smith (kneeling center). Here Falcons Corrina Cota (left) and Savannah Alberghini-Giroux (far right) battle with Raider Rachel Ebersole for control of the puck. Photo by Richard Creaser

Not three minutes into the game the Raiders would go ahead on a worm-burner scored by Rachel Ebersole and assisted by Stacy Woolaver.  Backing up the early lead, Cheyenne Smith provided solid goaltending for the visiting team.

“We did have a lot of chances but we just couldn’t put them in,” Falcon Whitney Bernier said after the game.  “We put a lot of pressure on their defense and their goalie.  We just didn’t score.”

North Country did create plentiful opportunities, particularly on a pair of early power play chances in the first period.  Though the Falcons moved the puck precisely and efficiently, the resulting shots were unable to get past Smith and her defenders.

The situation would take a turn for the worst in the second period as Raider Emily George banged home another goal past North Country’s Mikaella Doran to give U-32 a 2-0 lead.  A game that had started as a North Country win all but for the playing was suddenly in serious jeopardy.

Twenty-two seconds later, Falcon Taylor Morley responded with a sweet wrap-around goal to cut the Raiders’ lead in half and steal momentum away from U-32.

“Her goal was huge,” Bernier said.  “Taylor came back and got us a goal.  It really pumped us up.”

The euphoria was somewhat short-lived.  North Country had regained momentum and gone on the offensive when first Savannah Alberghini-Giroux and then Emily Doty took trips to the box.

“We got into a little penalty trouble in the second,” Coach Paul said.  “That was really the only bad thing I had to say about how we played out there tonight.  I talked to the girls about it in the locker room.”

“We had a big conversation about it,” Bernier said.  “We knew if we wanted to win we had to stay out of the box.  If we did that we’d get our chances.”

Those chances came soon after.  At 1:10 into the third period Bernier converted passes from Jenna Moss and Adrianna Fournier into the equalizing goal.  Time and again the Falcons would swarm the Raiders’ zone only to be turned aside.  In a conclusion worthy of the caliber of hockey both teams presented, Bernier took a pass from Corrina Cota and buried it in the net with 12 seconds left on the clock to put North Country ahead for the first time in the game.

“Getting that goal felt great,” Bernier said.  “They really made us work for the win.”

The Falcons return to action on Saturday, February 16, at 5 p.m. with a match against Brattleboro in their final home game of the regular season.  The Falcons conclude their regular season with away matches against Rice Memorial on February 20 and Harwood Union on February 23.

contact Richard creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com.

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In girls basketball: LR Rangers fall to 5-2 with loss to Hazen

by Harris Kinsey

copyright the Chronicle 1-23-2013

Coming off a disappointing loss at home to Lamoille, the Lake Region girls varsity team hoped to get back to their winning ways vs. Hazen Friday night, January 18.  They fought hard for four quarters but came up just short in a heartbreaking 48-45 loss.  Alyssa Whitney led Hazen with 13 points.  Jordan Manning and Renae Hall each added 11 points for Hazen.

Tyrah Urie led Lake Region with 11 points, but like her teammates, she just couldn’t consistently get her shots to go in.  Lake Region struggled to score as they got good shots, but just too many failed to fall.

The first quarter began with Hazen scoring the first basket early to go up 2-0.  Ashley Locke then answered back with two of her nine points to tie the game at two.  Ally McAllister answered with a score of her own.  Hazen 4, Lake Region 2.  Sabrina Roberge then hit a three pointer to give Lake Region the lead.  Lake Region would score again on a steal and a three-pointer from Drew Neal.  Lake Region would also get a three-pointer from Urie, and a score from Michelle Thibeault.  The first quarter ended with the score 16-9 in favor of Lake Region.

The second quarter began with Locke hitting a free throw for the first score.  Hazen then took over the quarter as their shots began to fall and Lake Region’s shots didn’t.  However, the second quarter was a very low scoring quarter.  Hazen got well balanced scoring as Whitney was the high scorer of the quarter with four points.  As a team, Hazen would score 11 points, while Lake Region scored just five.  At halftime the score stood at Lake Region 21, Hazen 20.

Nobody scored in the third quarter until the 6:50 mark when a layup by Whitney gave Hazen the lead 22-21.  Lake Region didn’t score until the 4:15 mark on two free throws by Locke to take the lead back 23-22.  Hazen then scored seven unanswered points on a three-pointer and a three-point play by Manning, and a layup by Whitney.  Hazen 30, Lake Region 23.  Lake Region would only get four more points in the quarter on jumpers by Locke and Urie.  Hazen would again outscore Lake Region in the quarter 10-6.  After three quarters the score stood 32-27 in favor of Hazen.

Hall got the first score of the fourth quarter on a layup.  Hazen 34, Lake Region 27.  Sarah Burnham answered back with a layup of her own to pull Lake Region back to within five.  Lake Region would score six more points to pull within one, 36-35.  The quarter went back and forth.  Hazen would go up by seven again 43-37.  However, Lake Region came roaring back to pull within two with two minutes left, 43-41.  Hazen had the answer again by scoring five more points, while Lake Region was only able to score two more.  Each team scored 16 points in the quarter but the final score was 48-45 in Hazen’s favor.

After the game LR coach Mark Tinker said, “We need to work on getting up and down the floor.  We like a faster tempo, but we also need to work on our execution in our half-court offense.  We aren’t getting the best shot, and that is hurting us as well.  On defense we are not communicating, and we are fouling way too much.  That has been our biggest problem, is the fouls.  We are trying multiple defenses, which is nice to have a variety, and we are getting better.  We played better than we did against Lamoille, but we need to improve more.”

The Rangers next game is at Windsor on Saturday, January 26.  They will play at home on Monday, January 28, against BFA Fairfax at 7 p.m.

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In Alpine skiing: Race shortened due to cold temperatures

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North Country Falcon Justin Berthiaume tucks into a tight corner on the slalom course at Jay Peak on Friday.  Photo by Richard Creaser

North Country Falcon Justin Berthiaume tucks into a tight corner on the slalom course at Jay Peak on Friday. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 1-20-2013

JAY — The sun may have been shining, but it was the only weather effect working in anyone’s favor on Friday morning.  The North Country Union High Falcons held their Alpine ski meet at Jay Peak’s Stateside facility in freezing cold temperatures.

The race was originally slated to allow racers two runs down the grand slalom course.  The bitter cold quickly reduced the race to a single run each for both male and female varsity skiers.  The decidedly unpleasant temperatures offered no particular advantage or hindrance to racers, North Country Coach Mark Rappold told the Chronicle.

“The hill and the weather are the same for all competitors so training, natural abilities and the will to get to the finish is what drives them all,” Coach Rappold said.

The will to finish was perhaps never greater than it was on Friday.  A brisk wind coupled

North Country Falcon Evan Clarke slides into one of the few patches of sunlit slalom course during Friday's alpine ski contest at Jay Peak's Stateside facility.  Clarke would finish the slalom course with a time of 58.22.Photo by Richard Creaser

North Country Falcon Evan Clarke slides into one of the few patches of sunlit slalom course during Friday’s alpine ski contest at Jay Peak’s Stateside facility. Clarke would finish the slalom course with a time of 58.22.Photo by Richard Creaser

with temperatures in the single digits presented its own unique problems.  Many of the racers, and even Coach Rappold himself, reported minor cases of frostbite.  Coach Rappold said that the frostbite he sustained was still painful more than 24 hours after the race.

“Shortening the race may have saved some fingers and toes from severe frostbite,” he said.

Justin Berthiaume was the top Falcon racer on the day taking sixteenth place with a time of 52.56 behind event winner Ryan Susslin of BFA-St. Albans.  North Country’s Jed Wheeler, Evan Clarke and Braxton Birchard finished twenty-ninth, thirty-second and thirty-third respectively with less than two seconds separating them on the clock.  North Country’s only female competitor, Jani Masi, finished with a time of 1:15.59.  The top female racer was Mount Mansfield Union’s Darcy Patnode.

Coach Rappold spoke highly of the development of the team since the start of the season.  Though it is a young squad, with enough training he feels confident that North Country might again return to the state meet later in the season.

“I’m very pleased,” Coach Rappold said of his squad.  “They have come a long way since the first day of on-hill training.  Miles and miles of skiing are what make great skiers and racers, so commitment to anything will make you better at it.”

The Falcons travel to Hard’ack for a BFA-St. Albans hosted event on Friday, January 25.

Contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

Colchester's Margaret Rodriguez bends into a turn during Friday's Alpine meet at the Jay Peak Ski Resort hosted by North Country Union High School. Rodriguez would finish in nineteenth spot.  Photo by Richard Creaser

Colchester’s Margaret Rodriguez bends into a turn during Friday’s Alpine meet at the Jay Peak Ski Resort hosted by North Country Union High School. Rodriguez would finish in nineteenth spot. Photo by Richard Creaser

 

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In boys basketball: Lake Region improves to 6-0

by Harris Kinsey

copyright the Chronicle 1-9-2013

After playing three consecutive games on the road, the Lake Region boys varsity hoped to get a win at home. They played hard and came out on top 75-65 over Missisquoi Thursday night, January 3.

Drew Gallup paced Lake Region with 20 points.  Clint Provoncha and Caleb Prue added 17 points apiece to guide the Rangers.  Matthieu St. Amour of Missisquoi led all scorers with 39 points but didn’t get much help, as the other players for Missisquoi just couldn’t get it done against Lake Region’s defense.

In the first quarter Missisquoi scored first on a shot by R.J. Machia to go up 2-0. Then a steal and a layup by Drew Gallup tied the game at 2.  Then St. Amour hit a three pointer.  Missisquoi 5, Lake Region 2.

Lake Region scored again to pull within one, but St. Amour hit two more threes.  Missisquoi 11, Lake Region 4.

Lake Region then came back with strong defense and timely scoring.  The first quarter ended with the score 15-13 in favor of Missisquoi.

Lake Region came out with a great showing in the second quarter.  The first score of the second quarter came on two free throws by Provoncha to tie the game at 15.

Then Lake Region’s defense took over the quarter.  They forced turnover after turnover.  Mainly on steals, but they forced bad plays.  Their defense was so good that Missisquoi didn’t score until the 1:55 mark of the second quarter on two free throws by St. Amour.  They only hit a three and a two-point shot for a total of seven points in the entire quarter.  Lake Region turned many of those turnovers into baskets, and scored 18 points in the quarter.  At halftime the score stood at 31-22 in favor of Lake Region.

Lake Region came out in the third quarter and picked up where they left off.  Caleb Prue scored the first points of the quarter for Lake Region.  Lake Region’s defense was just as good as in the second quarter, and held Missisquoi scoreless until the 4:33 mark of the third quarter, when St. Amour made a free throw.  Missisquoi was held to 14 points in the third while Lake Region also scored 14 points.  After three quarters of play Lake Region led 45-36.

The fourth quarter turned out to be the most exciting quarter.  Matthieu St Amour took over the quarter with 16 points to lead a hard charge by Missisquoi.  However, Drew Gallup contributed ten points of his own in the quarter for Lake Region.  Caleb Prue scored the first bucket of the quarter and Alex Larose answered back a minute later for Missisquoi.  The game went back and forth the whole quarter.  Missisquoi pulled close, but Lake Region made key free throws and hit timely shots down the stretch to put the game away.  The final score was Lake Region 75,  Missisquoi 65 .

After the game LR coach James Ingalls said, “We played very well tonight.  Our calling card is our defense, and again our defense was very tough.  Our defense leads to offense for us as we like to run the floor, and tonight was no different.  Everybody contributed tonight.  It was a real team effort.”

Lake Region’s next games are January 5 at Lyndon, and then Monday, January 7, against Winooski at home.

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NC Falcons host Nordic ski meet at Mount Hor

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North Country's Sam Brunette (right) moves to pass Brattleboro Union High's Oliver Pomanzi in boys' varsity Nordic ski action on December 28.  Brunette's time of 20:29 was tops among the Falcons on the day. Photo by Richard Creaser

North Country’s Sam Brunette (right) moves to pass Brattleboro Union High’s Oliver Pomanzi in boys’ varsity Nordic ski action on December 28. Brunette’s time of 20:29 was tops among the Falcons on the day.
Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 12-30-2012

WESTMORE — Thursday evening’s deep blanket of snow created much improved conditions as North Country Union High School held its first home Nordic ski meet of the season atop Mount Hor on Friday, December 28.  Conditions this year were a far cry from last year’s opening meet.  Last season volunteers repeatedly threw shovels full of snow over bare patches and some of the larger rocks in an effort to maintain passable trail conditions.

“We had a lot of trouble finding snow last season,” North Country Coach Alex Gratton recalled.  “It’s tough to keep up morale, to get excited about the season when you barely have a chance to get on the snow.”

So far, the 2013-2013 season has promised much greater things.  The team has taken advantage of man-made snow on the trails at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center hitting their trails at least once a week.  In addition the team traveled for a three-day skiing getaway at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Quebec.

“We weren’t able to take that trip last year because they didn’t have any snow either,” Coach Gratton said.  “This season is shaping up much better, snow-wise.”

Skiers from nine different schools in Vermont and from Lebanon High in New Hampshire traveled to Westmore for the Falcons’ home meet.  Though North Country did not fare so well in the standings on Friday afternoon, it did little to dampen their enthusiasm for their team or their chosen sport.

North Country Falcon Bradley Dopp digs deep as he races toward the finish line during the Friday, December 28 Nordic ski meet at Mount Hor in Westmore. Dopp would complete the course in 23:22. Photo by Richard Creaser

North Country Falcon Bradley Dopp digs deep as he races toward the finish line during the Friday, December 28 Nordic ski meet at Mount Hor in Westmore. Dopp would complete the course in 23:22.
Photo by Richard Creaser

“We’re a pretty tight group,” varsity skier Bradley Dopp said after the race.  “Most of us run cross country or track too.  So we’ve known each other for quite a while.”

That camaraderie is what distinguishes this Falcons’ team from most other squads, varsity skier Brianna Grimm said.  The fellowship among the athletes is what enables them to push themselves onward.

“We’re basically one big family,” Ms. Grimm said.  “We encourage one another a lot.”

Encouragement is something that all athletes needed to tackle the challenging Mount Hor course.  The initial stages involve a sprint over relatively level ground followed by some twists and turns and then The Wall.  The Wall is an imposing vertical ascent in the middle of the course.

“That big hill was a real challenge,” junior varsity skier Zachary Charbonneau said.  “That was probably the toughest part.”

The Wall is an imposing obstacle that requires that skiers conserve enough energy to tackle it.  The tendency might be to take off at speed through the early part of the course but that could leave you stranded once you hit the hill, Mr. Dopp said.

“It’s easier to go faster than you ought to,” Mr. Dopp said.  “But if you’ve skied this course before and you know that hill is coming, you save a little something.  You can make back a lot of time coming down.”

Timing and pacing are crucial skills to master for both Nordic skiing and cross-country running, Ms. Grimm said.  As a result athletes spend a lot of time running and working out their cardiovascular system to develop endurance.

“There’s really no way to prepare yourself for a hill like that,” Ms. Grimm said.  “You just do it.”

“It just goes straight up for like a quarter of the course,” Mr. Dopp said.  “It’s a bit rough and you gotta work hard but it’s so worth it when you get to the top.”

That work ethic and a willingness to support and encourage one another makes this team a pleasure to work with, Coach Gratton said.  The 17 members of this year’s squad are as close to a family as any group could be, he said.

“They are just so positive,” the coach said.  “I’d take these kids anywhere.  We might not be a big team but we’re very close.”

Coach Gratton took a moment to congratulate Alex Cotnoir and Sam Brunette on strong runs.

“You were lookin’ good out there,” he told Mr. Brunette.  “You had a lot more energy.”

“I thought I went a little slower than I ought to,” Mr. Brunette replied.  “But I felt good going up The Wall.”

Mount Mansfield won the team varsity girls title while Mount Anthony edged U-32 for the varsity boys title.  North Country finished in sixth and seventh place in the girls’ and boys’ divisions respectively.

Annavitte Rand was the top girls’ finisher completing the course in 18:25, 12 seconds ahead of Burlington High’s Halie Lange.  Haley Jo Tetreault posted the top time among the Lady Falcons cruising in to a finish time of 22:30 and only eight seconds out of a three-way tie for twelfth place.  Jade Dandurand was NCU’s next top finisher with a time of 26:11.

U-32′s Ben Merrylees was the top boys’ skier finishing with a time of 17:12, a full 16 seconds ahead of second place skier Luke Johnas of Mount Anthony.  Alexander Cotnoir held North Country’s fastest time landing in a three-way tie for eighteenth place with a time of 19:54.  Falcon Sam Brunette finished in a two-way tie for twenty-seventh overall with a time of 20:29.

Falcon Adele Woodmansee finished second in girls junior varsity action only four seconds behind event winner U-32′s Audrey Oliver’s time of 9:17.  Alexander Cope had the fastest time among the Falcons’ junior varsity racers finishing in seventh place overall with a time of 9:57.  Teammate Fred Petzoldt finished 20 seconds behind to take ninth place overall.

Contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

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