by Ken Brown
MONTPELIER – The Hazen Union boys’ basketball team took their frustrations out on U-32 last week after a much anticipated rematch with Thetford Academy was postponed, improving to 10-1 on the season.
Senior big man Tyler Rivard poured in 30 points and pulled down 15 rebounds to lead the Wildcats to a 61-30 road win over U-32 last Friday. Xavier Hill knocked down three 3-pointers on his way to an 11- point seven-assist night and Lincoln Michaud chipped in with seven points and 10 rebounds in the win.
“We are starting to get into the part of our schedule where we’ll start playing the best teams in the Capital League the next few weeks. We will be going up against some very strong competition and it should help us prepare the way we need to for the upcoming tournament,” said head coach Aaron Hill.
Hazen Union took a 27-15 advantage into the break and backed that up with a 21-10 third quarter to break the game wide open. Aiden Boyd and Caelan Zeilenga led the Raiders with seven points apiece and Luke Page pulled down a team-high nine rebounds in the loss. U-32 falls to 2-9 on the season in what has been a rebuilding year after reaching double digit wins last winter. Rivard set the tone early with a breakaway dunk to end the first quarter (his second of the season) and was unstoppable the rest of the way, scoring 20 or more for the seventh time this season. Rivard is averaging over 24 points and 15 rebounds a game, putting him in rarefied air from a historical school perspective. Only three players in program history have averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds or better for an entire season: Bruce Putvain in 1966 for Hardwick Academy and Hazen Union’s Tim Shedd (2001) and Brad Mader (2005). Rivard is on a mission to lead the Wildcats to their second straight division III state championship and his greatness isn’t lost on his legendary coach.
“Tyler is a special athlete who is having a tremendous season. I feel so blessed to be able to be his coach,” said Hill.
Hill has had a litany of Wildcat greats come through a program that he has led to six state titles. He is fast approaching 400 career wins and still not 50 years of age, could go down as the standard of Vermont High School basketball coaches. His coaching tree is starting to grow as well, with former Wildcat Eli Appleton in his first season as head coach of the boys’ varsity team at Lyndon Institute and Randy Lumsden in his first season on the sidelines for the girls’ varsity team at Hazen Union. Lumsden has the Lady Cats on a 12-game winning streak after dropping their season opener and is ranked No. 2 in the current division III standings.
“I am so incredibly proud of what Randy is doing with the girls’ program. He is creating an awesome culture of dedication and hard work that is going to result in a lot of wins in the coming years. It is so exciting to see how well his team is playing. They are putting in the effort and dedication that is required to be successful and it is so fun to watch. I’m just so proud to see what Randy and Eli are doing with their programs in their first year,” said Hill.
The Wildcats were back on the road on Monday night for a match-up against Randolph and will travel to Division II Spaulding on Wednesday to wrap up their week. The Crimson Tide sit atop the Capital League with a perfect 9-0 record.