by Joseph Gresser
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 [email protected]