by Ken Brown
MARSHFIELD – The Twinfield-Cabot boys’ basketball team protected their home court with a win over Proctor in the opening round of the Division IV playoffs last week, but couldn’t solve a red-hot Danville team in the quarterfinals, ending their season at 11-10.
Freshman Tej Stewart poured in 25 points to lead the Trojans to a 64-56 win at home over Proctor last Wednesday in the opening round of the tournament. Meles Gouge (15 points) and Sam Russell (13) helped Twinfield-Cabot build a 47-26 lead late in the third quarter before the Phantoms mounted a furious comeback in the last eight minutes. Carter Crossman’s 17 points and Aaron Brock’s 13, combined with some untimely Trojan turnovers, made it a two-possession game late in the fourth quarter. Russell calmly knocked down a pair of free throws late to quell the rally and help the Trojans advance. Twinfield-Cabot swept the season series with Proctor, dropping them to 8-13.
“We played a really good three quarters of basketball and then things got very chaotic,” said head coach Chris Hudson. “Give them credit, they sped up the game, hit some three’s, caused some turnovers, and made it more interesting than it should have been down the stretch. We’re young and inexperienced and we just didn’t slow down when it got chaotic out there. We’re asking a lot from 14- and 15-year-olds and in the end they got it done and I’m proud of them for finding a way,” added Hudson.
Third seeded Danville denied the Trojans of any hopes of a Final Four berth early, as senior Christian Young led the way with 18 points (three 3-pointers) in an emphatic 72-33 quarterfinal home win over the weekend. After a tight first quarter, the Bears ended the second half on a 21-8 run and the rout was on. Arius Andrews was stout inside for Danville with 15 points and Andrew Joncas knocked down a pair of three-pointers for 12 points on the night in the win. Tej Stewart led Twinfield-Cabot with nine points and Brayden Cushing and Sam McLane combined for four 3-pointers and 14 points in the loss. It was the third win in three weeks for the Bears over their cross-town rivals as they won their tenth game in 11 tries. Danville improved to 16-6, with their only loss the last five weeks coming to undefeated Division III power Winooski to end the regular season.
“You can try to explain the environment and the intensity of a road quarterfinal game like this to a young team, but unfortunately they have to experience it for themselves and hopefully learn from it going forward. Give Danville credit, they out-rebounded us, out-hustled us, and flew to every loose ball. We got rattled and made some mistakes and just didn’t respond to their runs. The belief and the toughness to win games like this at this time of year has to come from them and I believe our young guys will go back to work this summer and develop that mindset. We have seven freshmen on this team and I’m proud of what we accomplished this year. Kris Bador is doing a great job of developing our young talent at the JV level and I think we’ll come back next year a more physical and experienced team. I’ve enjoyed coaching this young group and watching them develop throughout the season. We’ll miss TJ Bernatchy’s leadership next season and he did everything you could ask from a lone senior on a young team and more. I’m excited for the future of our program, I’m proud of these kids, and I look forward to watching their growth,” said Hudson.
Danville punched their ticket to the Barre Auditorium and will square off with second seeded Rivendell Academy in the Division IV semifinals on Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m.