Local roundup: Thetford boys edge Vergennes, off to Barre Auditorium

Staff Reports

Published: 03-04-2023 4:16 PM

THETFORD — A year after stumbling to a 4-16 record, the Thetford Academy boys basketball team is off to Barre Auditorium.

The No. 3 seed Panthers got all they could handle Friday night from sixth-seeded Vergennes, which eliminated them in last year’s first round, but came out on top with a 60-55 victory over the Commodores in the VPA Division III quarterfinals at Vaughan Gymnasium.

“It’s a big game, it’s a big stage,” Thetford coach Jason Gray said. “They pushed us to our limit of discomfort.”

The Panthers (16-5) trailed by five points after the first quarter, in part because Thetford’s book-keeper was assessed a technical foul for writing the incorrect number for one of the players in the scorebook.

But TA’s lone senior, Jacob Gilman, heated up in the second, knocking down three of his five 3-pointers and scoring 11 of his 19 points in the period. He hit back-to-back shots from long range in the final minute of the first half to turn a five-point deficit into a 29-28 lead.

Gilman’s final 3-pointer gave the Panthers a two-point lead early in the third, after which an unlikely hero emerged. Sophomore Dillon Vance came off the bench to score 18 points, 14 of them in the second half, and also came up with a big steal late in the fourth quarter.

“The last month, he’s been starting to put the pieces together and figure out what he has to do for us,” Gray said. “He’s doing really well. Offensively he’s stepped it up; defensively he’s come a long way, and he can handle the ball.”

Thetford led by six with one quarter to go, but Vergennes (11-11) quickly trimmed the lead back to one. Big buckets from junior Mitchell Parkman and sophomore Hunter Clay helped keep the Panthers in front, and while Thetford was just 8-for-18 from the free-throw line as a team, Vance was 7-for-9, and his foul shooting down the stretch was key to closing out the win.

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The Panthers will play No. 2 seed Hazen in the semifinals on Thursday, after the Wildcats walloped White River Valley, 101-62. Thetford split two regular-season meetings with Hazen, beating the Wildcats 47-42 at home on Jan. 11 and losing 74-55 on the road on Feb. 13.

“When you take a young team with nine freshmen (last year), it’s kind of a rebuilding year,” Gray said. “We were working in the offseason together, and the boys really came together playing hard.”

Mid Vermont Christian 42, Blue Mountain 31

QUECHEE — The Eagles used their strong team defense to punch their first ticket to the Aud in program history.

MVCS set the tone in the first quarter, building a 13-6 lead. Coach Erva Barnes praised the defensive work to hold BMU leading scorers Evan Dennis and Richard Fennimore to a combined 12 points as a key to the win.

BMU rallied to lead by three heading into the fourth quarter when the Eagles turned in an inspired effort to spark the comeback win, holding the visitors to just five points in the final frame.

Abel Goodwin led MVCS with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Roman Goeppner added 13 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks.

“Our guys played their best when it mattered most. Some good and timely shooting from Abel gave us the lead, and the boys executed well down the stretch,” Barnes said.

The fourth-seeded Eagles (17-5) now look forward to a date with No. 1 seed Long Trail on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Barre Auditorium in the VPA Division IV semifinals. The teams played on Jan. 7 in Quechee, a 54-48 win by Long Trail (21-1).

Montpelier 59, Hartford 33

MONTPELIER — The Hurricanes saw an impressive season come crashing to a halt against the Solons in the VPA Division II quarterfinals.

“It’s not the result we wanted tonigh,t as we just didn’t play like we had all year,” Hartford coach Mike Gaudette said. “However, the year we just had, I’m proud of the kids. We accomplished a lot, and the kids now fully understand the expectations.”

No. 4 seed Montpelier built a 31-15 lead at halftime over the No. 5 seed Canes (18-4). Brody Tyburski led Hartford with nine points. Brayden Trombly and Joey Beggs each had eight. The Canes will graduate Beggs and Ian Murphy, meaning the bulk of the core of this team — which set a program record for wins — will return for another run a season from now.

“The future is bright, and we will be back,” Gaudette added.

Hazen 101, White River Valley 62

HARDWICK, Vt. — The No. 7 seed Wildcats couldn’t keep pace with a potent Hazen team in the VPA Division III quarterfinals.

WRV (13-9) will lose Reid Penta, Zack Frary, Teddy Janczak and Dieter Seiling to graduation.

Girls Hockey Hanover 3, St. Thomas-Winnacunnet-Dover 1

WEST LEBANON — This rematch of last year’s state championship game followed a familiar script: a Hanover win, this time in the NHIAA Division I quarterfinals at Campion Rink.

Julia Lawe got the scoring started for defending champion Hanover in the first period with a second-effort goal, with Kali McDonnell and Faith Lindsay earning assists. St. Thomas answered in the second to knot things up at 1-1 before Maeve Lee followed just 26 seconds later with a goal to put Hanover in front for good. The go-ahead strike was set up when Rory Seelig won a loose puck before making a perfect pass to Lee for the goal.

Lee added some insurance with 2:06 remaining in the third period, blocking a shot in the defensive zone and then breaking away for the goal. Goalie Eleanor Edson made 15 saves for Hanover (14-3-2). The Bears will play in the semifinals at Everett Arena in Concord on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

“This was a great tournament hockey game in front of a loud crowd at Campion. I thought we played well. We had contributions from everyone, moved the puck with speed and generated some quality chances. Most importantly, we were solid defensively,” longtime Hanover coach John Dodds said.