“The start is what doomed us,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “We didn’t get out of the gate strong.”
Twin Valley’s Abbi Molner scored the first basket of the game, Bit Aekus’ three-point shot gave the hosts a 5-4 lead early on. But that was the last time the Wildcats would hold the lead. Rivendell, led by senior sharpshooter Kathlenn McCarty’s three three-point baskets, held Twin Valley to only one more field goal the rest of the period.
The Wildcats found themselves down 16-7 at the end of the first eight minutes.
Things didn’t fare much better in the second quarter for the hosts, as they could only muster eight points through the period, and at the half Rivendell held a 28-15 lead.
“At halftime we were down 13,” said Hayford. “I thought it was going to be interesting to see which way it all went. Either we were going to get blown out, or make a game of it. We made a game of it.”
The Wildcats came out for the second half with quite a bit more energy, especially on the defensive end of the court. Their full-court trapping defense led to some Rivendell turnovers.
Throughout the third quarter Twin Valley narrowed the gap. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around the Rivendell lead had been cut to 10 points.
“We outplayed them in third and fourth quarters” noted Hayford. “We had a nice run in the fourth quarter.” The Wildcats managed to pull within six points, as Sammy Cunningham-Darrah, Hannah Swanson, and Jordan Niles all made buckets to help bridge the gap.
But Rivendell is a veteran team, and they were able to hold off the Wildcats down the stretch and come away with the road victory.
“We made it interesting,” said Hayford. “You take away the first quarter and we outscored them the rest of the game. This is a a good lesson, we’ve got to come out and be ready to go.”
Overall, Hayford was happy with how the Wildcats recovered from the poor start. “They showed a lot of character, and showed that this is a team that is going to fight to the end.
Hayford added he was very pleased with the defensive effort, as the Wildcats only gave up 17 points in the second half.
Molner led Twin Valley with eight points, seven rebounds, three steals, and two blocked shots. Swanson notched seven points and nine rebounds. Lexi Renertson chipped in with six points and three rebounds, and Cuningham-Darrah added five points.
Point guard and floor leader Savannah Nesbitt was held scoreless, as Rivendell keyed in on shutting her offense down. Nesbitt had six rebounds and four assists.
Hayford noted that Rivendell played strong defense on Twin Valley’s other good-shooting perimeter players as well. Shannon Lozito and Bit Aekus were held in check, scoring only three points each.
Despite the first loss of the season, Hayford was looking for something positive to take out of the game. He might have found in the fact that all eleven of his team’s players spent time on the floor. “We have good depth and play a lot of players,” he said. “I hope that experience will pay off come the end of the season.”
TV 57, Poultney 49
WILMINGTON- The Twin Valley girls’ varsity bounced back for a tough loss with a strong showing against defending D-IV state champion Poultney on Wednesday, taking a 57-49 win at home.
“It was a really great win against a seasoned team,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford.
The Wildcats came back from an early deficit to hold a five point lead at halftime. In the fourth quarter, Poultney made a run that trimmed the lead to three points. But the Wildcats continued to play with poise. Sophomore guard Jordan Niles scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, and the team made six of nine free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Niles lead Twin Valley in scoring, busting loose for a career high 22 points. She dropped in four three-pointers as part of that scoring barrage. Senior guard Bit Aekus also nailed four treys on the night. Her twelve points was also a career high.
Junior forwards Abbi Molner and Lexi Reinertson gave the Wildcats a strong inside presence, combining for 18 rebounds. Hannah Swanson added four points, three rebounds, and two assists.
Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford said that one of the keys to the game was limiting Poultney’s top scorer, Ali Jones. Niles and Sammy Cunningham-Darrah combined to put the defensive clamps on Jones, limiting her to nine points.
Hayford also cited the play of point guard Savannah Nesbitt, who played a steady game and had four points, eight assists, and seven steals.
Twin Valley ran its record to 3-1 with the win. They travel to Chester on Tuesday to take on Green Mountain in the school’s annual Holiday Tournament. Tipoff is at 7:30. They’ll play again at Green Mountain on Thursday at 6 pm. Mount Saint Joseph Academy and Springfield High School make up the other side of the bracket. After the holiday break, they travel to Proctor on Wednesday, January 4, for a 6:30 pm game against the host Phantoms. The JV squad will also be back in action at Proctor, with a 5 pm start.