In both games, the key proved to be hanging tight with Poultney’s best player Leanna Mason, who is close to eclipsing 1,000 points in her career. Fortunately the Wildcats were up to the task, holding Mason to 19 in the first game and shutting her down for five points in the second.
Twin Valley relied on Tatyanna Bowman and Leah Putnam to defuse Mason, who’s proven too much for most defenses, and with their excellent defense the rest of the team could focus on locking down the rest of Poultney’s offense.
“Mason’s a handful, but we got a great defensive effort from the team,” coach Buddy Hayford said. “The first game was really close, but the girls showed great composure in a tough road win. In the second game we just put a great game together overall.”
Tayler Courchesne led the way in game one with a 21-point, five-rebound, three-steal night, as Maria Page and Sadie Boyd added six points apiece and Bowman and Boyd each grabbed eight boards.
Boyd, a freshman, paced the Wildcats in game two, with career-highs in points (18) and rebounds (11) to collect the first of likely numerous double-doubles. Courchesne chipped in 17 points to go with six steals and two blocked shots.
“I was really pleased by these games,” Hayford said. “They’ve shown great improvement. I hope we can sustain this type of play because things won’t get any easier from here. We’ll have to keep playing like we did that last three quarters (Tuesday) night.”
Hayford would like to forget the play of Tuesday night’s first quarter, although he’ll likely never shake the memory. Twin Valley led, 2-0, after the first frame — something he’d never seen in more than 30 years of coaching high school basketball. But the rest of the game was nearly flawless for the ‘Cats.
“We only allowed four points in the entire first half, and we scored 54 points the rest of the way,” he said. “I was thrilled, but it was an odd game.”
It’s a busy week upcoming for the Wildcats (3-6), who visit Woodstock tonight at 7 pm, then play host to Arlington Memorial at 2:30 pm Saturday, and Bellows Falls at 7 pm Monday.
“It’s long trip up to Woodstock, but it’s a winnable game,” Hayford said. “Arlington at home will be difficult, but I’m excited by our level of play.