by Ken Brown
THETFORD – Thetford Academy clamped down on the Hazen Union boys’ basketball team’s high potent offense last week in their first road test of the season, dropping them to 7-1.
Boone Fahey scored a team-high 17 points to help the Panthers survive at home against the Wildcats last Wednesday 47-44. Hazen took a 26-25 edge into the break and it extended their lead to 42-38 after three quarters behind Tyler Rivard’s 18 points and 13 boards. The senior big man is averaging nearly 24 points and 15 boards for the Wildcats this season, but a stingy Panther defense fed off their home crowd, holding Hazen Union to just two points in the last eight minutes to help steal a pivotal divisional win.
“Thetford plays a unique man to man defense that kept us off balance. They are a strong well coached team and we just were not ready to play,” said head coach Aaron Hill.
Xavier Hill added 12 points for Hazen in the loss, including a pair of three-pointers. Dempsey McGovern complemented Fahey with 12 points and senior guard Jacob Gilman (nine points) knocked down a trio of long range shots down the stretch for Thetford to help secure the win. The Panthers have been a thorn in the side of Hazen Union the last few years, handing them playoff defeats on their way to back-to-back Division III titles from 2019-20. Their program looks to be back on the rise this winter with their only loss of the season coming to Division II Windsor, improving to 5-1 and a No. 3 ranking in the divisional standings. Hazen remains the second ranked team in division III behind undefeated Winooski, but Hill views this as a wake-up call for his talented team that averaged over 74 points per game in seven straight dominant victories to start the season.
“Hopefully this loss will spark us to increase our focus and preparation for all of our games. Overall, we are healthy and we’ll continue to work at adding a little more pressure to our defensive looks and keep improving our half court offensive execution,” said Hill.
Last Friday’s game at Randolph was postponed due to the weather and will be rescheduled. The Wildcats welcomed Lyndon Institute to town on Monday and will travel to Harwood on Friday night.