TV 49 Twinfield 46
It was a close game, but Dal Nesbitt had ice water running through his veins. Neither the Wildcats nor the Trojans had led by more than eight since the first quarter, and with two stingy defenses hammering away at each other, the game was destined to come down to the last minute. Down 45-40 with the clock winding down, the Wildcats needed a spark, and Nesbitt stepped up to the challenge.
Their day had been marked by a lowly 33% shooting percentage, and with Twinfield playing a tough 3-2 zone, the Wildcats had not been able to establish any presence in the paint. Nesbitt had only hit one of his 10 three-point attempts.
But with the game, and the Green Mountain Tournament on the line, Nesbitt threw his game into a new gear. First he put in a layup to bring the score to within three, then knocked down a three to tie the game on the Wildcats’ next possession. But Nesbitt wasn’t done yet. He hit another huge three-ball, as well as three foul shots to put his Wildcats up 49-45. Twinfield could only muster a foul shot, and missed on a close three pointer at the buzzer to tie. Twin Valley sealed their second straight Green Mountain Tournament championship, and remained undefeated on the season.
Nearly half of Twin Valley’s points came from Nesbitt, who led the team with 24 points. Being a team that relies on outside shooting instead of play in the paint, Twin Valley would take a total of 58 shots on the night. Colin Lozito and Cade Nesbitt each pitched in seven points, while Sam Molner was the team’s second highest scorer with nine points. The Wildcats’ aggressive rebounder, Eli Park, led his team with nine boards, while Lozito recorded six assists.
There are definite takeaways from the Wildcats’ first four games. Coach Chris Brown relies heavily on his starting five, but is slowly finding ways to incorporate his bench players. The Wildcats are also a team built on their defensive play, and using an aggressive half-court man-to-man defense has helped them stifle Division IV opponents like Twinfield and Rochester, who both made it to the Barre Auditorium last year. But the Wildcats must improve their shooting to continue their success.
Being a team that takes an enormous number of low percentage shots, due in part to their size, the Wildcats have no choice but to hope their shots start to fall with more consistency. The Wildcats are playing as a cohesive unit, and no one is more pleased to see that than Brown. “It feels good for the boys,” said Brown. “They’ve been working hard the last two to three years, but it hasn’t shown up in the win column. The close games are going our way, and that shows their grit and maturity.”