From then on the Terriers were able to generate limited offense as the Wildcats created more and more separation, as each eight-minute period ticked off. The ‘Cats outscored the Terriers 14-10 in the second quarter, propelled by Colton Butler’s hot hand, knocking down three three-pointers in the quarter.
Despite a significant Wildcat 24-13 lead at the half, the Terriers would continue to hang around, knocking down 13 points in the third quarter. But just when Bellows Falls needed a big quarter, the Wildcats were there to match it with 16 points of their own. Chelsea Wilder kicked her game into a higher level for the Terriers, scoring all of her 14 points in the second half, including three buckets from beyond the arc in the third quarter.
Five Wildcats would score in the third quarter, while the fourth quarter provided smooth sailing and another 11 points. Coach Buddy Hayford relied on his Wildcat bench players in the fourth quarter for some good defensive play to close out the Terriers, while Skyler Pronovost and Kirra Courchesne helped to extend the lead with late buckets.
Hayford said that his girls are hitting their stride defensively. “These kids are capable of playing a variety of defenses,” said Hayford. “Whatever is necessary on any given night, they are able to defend. Our full-court press was really good and our half-court zone was good. Bellows Falls is a perimeter shooting team so we extended our zone and that caused them issues.”
Cunningham-Darrah led her team with a career high 16 points and 12 rebounds for her first double-double of the year. Butler had a big night as well with 14 points, seven rebounds, and five steals. Savannah Nesbitt added nine assists and six steals, while Hannah Swanson recorded 10 of her team’s 39 rebounds.
Wilder led the Terriers with 14 points followed by Jen Debois with 10.
TV 33 Rivendell 30
WILMINGTON- The Wildcats won their fifth game in six tries Saturday evening, ending what was a tough four-game week with four wins, a goal that coach Buddy Hayford said his girls had set for themselves. “I’m excited that they were able to pull that off,” said Hayford. “That was grueling and the girls were tired, but they’re happy with how far they’ve come, and overall how they’ve been playing.”
It’s hard to describe Saturday’s 33-30 victory for the Wildcats. There was no real offensive flow for either team, no edge could be found, and defensive schemes would contribute more than the scarce buckets that found their way to the net.
The first quarter set the pace for the game as both teams showed sloppy, turnover-laden play. Sammy Cunningham-Darrah knocked down a three-pointer and Savannah Nesbitt hit two shots to put the ‘Cats in front 7-6 at the end of the quarter, including a buzzer-beating layup. Twin Valley played a great zone defense, shutting down shooter Teyo Amidon, while keeping Rivendell’s shorter forwards from being effective inside.
Rivendell came out hot in the second quarter, however, scoring the first six points while holding Twin Valley to no points for the first four minutes of play. Buckets from Hannah Swanson and a pivot foot jumper from Nesbitt got the game tied up again at 12. A Raptors foul shot put Rivendell back on top by one with seconds to go until the half. This time it was Kirra Courchesne coming through with a buzzer beater shot to put the ‘Cats up 14-13 at the end of two.
The Raptors’ Tayo Amidon and Jen DeBois hit three-pointers right out of the second-half gate, but Nesbitt was there to answer with a three of her own, followed by two-pointers from Courchesne and Colton Butler. Rivendell played tough defense in the third quarter, and with a 25-23 lead at the end of three, the Raptors were once again primed to run away from their weary opponents. But like steel, the ‘Cats would bend but not break.
The last frame was tough going, and neither team would score within the first two minutes. Nesbitt found Courchesne for a long bomb breakaway layup to tie the game at 25 and four lead changes would follow. Two big free throws from Megan Perkins put the Raptors up 28-27, but Butler hit the shot of the week, nailing a three-pointer for the lead, one that the ‘Cats would refuse to let go of. Swanson and Nesbitt finished off the game with a combined three points and the ‘Cats held off a last second shot by the Raptors to ice the game.
Nesbitt said that while the game was close, she felt confident, a trait that has been built up as Twin Valley has racked up wins. “Even when they had the ball for the final shot with 10 seconds left, I felt good,” said Nesbitt. “Compliments go to my team for getting that stop. This game showed how tough we are.”
Nesbitt, who finished with 10 points and six assists, attributes this year’s success to the chemistry on and off the court that she and her teammates share. “We’re playing well as a unit lately, and everyone’s been contributing and putting together some really good games. We’re going to keep working hard at practices while also keeping it light-hearted.”
Swanson added seven points and seven rebounds while Courchesne had six, and Butler and Cunningham-Darrah combined for 10. DeBois had eight for the Raptors.
TV 51 Arlington 35
WILMINGTON- Following the last-second heroics of their home win against Rivendell on Saturday, the Twin Valley Wildcats played their fifth game in eight days on Monday at Arlington. But once again the Wildcats didn’t look worn out by their schedule, coach Buddy Hayford said, to the contrary, his girls played their best game of the season.
One player who certainly had her best game of the season was Hannah Swanson. A regular double-digit contributor to the rebound column of the stats sheet, Swanson went off inside the paint, dominating the offensive boards, finding her touch, and racking up 22 points. Swanson’s first six points came in an offensively explosive first quarter for both the Wildcats and the host Eagles. Julia Lacoste and Molly Elwell were dominant for the Eagles while Sammy Cunningham-Darrah knocked down six points to compliment Swanson’s, and Colton Butler added four.
With a 16-16 tie, the second quarter cooled both teams off a little with the scoring in spurts. In the first five minutes of the quarter, the Eagles outscored the ‘Cats 7-0, and as the game slowly slipped away from the Wildcats, Swanson snatched it right back with another six points.
Tied at 23 after two, the Wildcats came out hot in the third, outscoring the Eagles 14-4. Part of this success was due to defensive readjustments. While Lacoste and Elwell had success in the first half combining for 21 points, Hayford switched his defense to man-to-man at the top of the key while keeping zone play inside. This good old-fashioned man-to-man defense by Butler, Cunningham-Darrah, and Savannah Nesbitt proved to be effective, as they held Lacoste and Elwell to seven points in the second half.
Swanson had another six points in the third quarter and Butler and Cunningham-Darrah both knocked down treys. Up 10 at the start of the fourth quarter, the ‘Cats were red hot, knocking down another 14 points over the last eight minutes. .
“In the back of your mind you think about at what point these kids will hit a wall,” said Hayford. “They were due for a bad night, they were ripe for the picking, but they came through with flying colors. They didn’t look like they had played five games in eight days, they looked fresh.” Swanson added 12 rebounds to her big night of scoring, while Cunningham-Darrah finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. Butler had nine points and four steals, and as a team, the Wildcats out-rebounded their opponents 44-23.
This was the seventh win in eight games. “There’s no limit to what they can do when they bring their A game,” said Hayford. “They’ve been playing their A game, and Monday night was one of those games. We’ve been getting good bench support, the chemistry is really great, and they are putting it together, playing hard and unselfish. As Phil Jackson says, selflessness is the soul of teamwork.”