Twin Valley dropped its final game of the regular season Friday evening, falling to rival Arlington 38-45 in a Marble Valley League game.
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for the Twin Valley players, coaches, and fans, as it dropped the Wildcats out of first place in the Marble Valley League C Division, and sent the Wildcats on the road to Winooski for a first-round playdown game. A win would have handed the Wildcats the division crown, and given them a home playoff game as well.
“We played a perfect first quarter,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford, “and an imperfect middle two quarters. They were our undoing, especially the third.”
Indeed, Twin Valley played its best ball in the first quarter. The Wildcats used their pressure defense to force a number of Arlington turnovers. Shannon Lozito grabbed a number of loose balls and knocked in a couple of baskets. Lozito’s running mate at guard, Svannah Nesbitt, also forced some turnovers and had some eary baskets on layups off the Eagles’ turnovers. Together, the pair accounted for all of the Wildcats’ points, as Twin Valley led 14-4 at the end of the quarter.
“We were knocking down shots and we played good defense,” said Hayford. “That was a really great start.”
However, Arlington was not going to lie down in this game. In the second quarter, the Eagles turned up their own defensive intensity and started making shots. They outscored the Wildcats 14-7 in the quarter.
“They knocked down some threes,” said Hayford of the second quarter. “Our defensive intensity dropped at the start of the quarter.”
Despite the rough period, Twin Valley still held the lead at halftime, 21-18.
But that lead was short lived. Jennan Lacoste scored down low to pull Arlington within one at the beginning of the third quarter. Twin Valley’s Lexi Reinertson countered with a layup to put the Wildcats back up 23-20. But for the rest of quarter, the Eagles outplayed the Wildcats, going on a 13-2 run to build a 33-25 lead.
Micah Andrews, daughter of former Twin Valley boys’ varsity coach and current Arlington girls coach Larry Andrews, led the way with nine points in the quarter on three three-point shots.
“The third quarter was the crucial quarter,” said Hayford. “We told the girls at the break that the first two to three minutes would be pivotal. We wanted to grab control of the game. Unfortunately, it was Arlington who took control. They picked up their defensive intensity and we looked uncomfortable. ”
Twin Valley picked up the pace in the fourth quarter, and tried to reel the Eagles back in. A three-pointer by Lozito narrowed the margin to 33-36 with about four minutes left in the game. But Andrews nailed another three, a bank shot from the right side that proved to be the dagger. The teams traded baskets down the stretch, but Twin Valley couldn’t get any closer, despite outscoring Arlington 13-12 in the quarter.
“It was difficult to guard her,” said Hayford of Andrews’ shooting display. “She was in a zone. I’ve never seen her shoot like that, and I’ve seen her play since she was a young kid.”
Andrews lead the Eagles with 16 points, coming on five three-point shots and a free-throw.
Nesbitt led Twin Valley with 17 points. Lozito had 10 points and four steals. Abbi Molner had three points and nine rebounds. Hannah Swanson had two points and four boards. Reinertson had four points, four rebounds, and two steals. Twin Valley had 11 steals as a team.
Before the game, seniors Lozito and Bit Aekus were recognized for their contributions over their high school careers.
The Wildcats finished the season 11-9, and in second place in the Marble Valley C Division. Green Mountain won the division. The Wildcats' record also earned them the ninth seed in the Vermont Principals’ Association Division III state tournament pairings.