by Ken Brown
BRADFORD – The weather is making it difficult for the Twinfield-Cabot boys’ basketball team to get into the flow of their season, but they still managed to race past Oxbow on the road in their only game last week to improve to 4-2.
Sam Russell pumped in a career-high 26 points to lead Twinfield-Cabot to a 60-40 road win over the Olympians last Tuesday. Meles Gouge complemented with 13 as the Trojans sputtered to a 22-15 lead at the break before hanging 20 points in the third quarter to break the game open.
“We’ve talked and talked about starting faster, but we are still struggling in first half of games,” said head coach Chris Hudson. “Credit to Oxbow for coming out with a lot of intensity on their home floor. Credit to their effort and for us settling for too many three-pointers for a flat first half,” added Hudson.
Twinfield-Cabot was more balanced in the second half, with Tej Stewart finishing with 11 points and eight rebounds and T.J. Bernatchy chipping in with four points and 10 boards. The loss dropped Oxbow to 1-8 on the season. It was a breakout performance for Russell midway through his junior campaign as he controlled the tempo for the Trojans down the stretch on both ends of the court.
“Sam really stepped up and took control in that second half, he had a great game and his teammates were looking for him. We don’t have a dominant presence in the middle, so we need to move the ball, knock down good looks, and get out in transition when we can. The guys did a good job of doing all of those things after halftime and didn’t just settle for early three’s. The game has changed a lot the last few years. A team like ours has to hit three’s to be successful, but we have to continue to work on creating better looks,” said Hudson.
Twinfield-Cabot is currently third in the Division IV rankings, but they have struggled to get in multiple games in a week due to scheduling and weather. In contrast, the other top teams in the division (Long Trail, Mid-Vermont Christian, and Rivendell Academy) all have double digit games under their belt already. Games against Craftsbury Academy and Winooski this past week were postponed due to the weather. Hudson’s squad was forced to squeeze most of the second half of the season into a two week window last winter and he hopes to avoid the same scenario this season.
“It has been one thing or the other the last few years and trying to fit that many games down the stretch last season just wasn’t realistic. Hopefully we are able to sprinkle these rescheduled games throughout the season and we get a little more luck with weather and illnesses starting this week. The guys are healthy and working hard and we are ready to get into a flow and gain some momentum,” said Hudson.
The Trojans were scheduled to travel to Vergennes on Tuesday and they will stay on the road for a divisional clash with defending state champion Blue Mountain on Friday night.