TV 40 Green Mountain 33
The Wildcats began their year with a test. After missing all of last year due to injury, Savannah Nesbitt would prove that she was ready to command the offense once again, scoring a team-high 12 points. But a fifth foul early in the fourth quarter would mean an early departure from her first game back. Luckily, the experience of the Wildcats’ roster made the team able to adjust to the situation and come up with a formidable win on the road.
While Twin Valley won by seven, the game was close for all 32 minutes. Twin Valley jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, opening up an 11-6 lead behind scoring from Nesbitt, Colton Butler, and Jessica Fox. Defensively, the Wildcats came out strong, but would be outscored 13-10 in the second quarter, as Twin Valley only knocked down seven of 16 free-throw attempts.
Twin Valley continued a downward spiral offensively in the third quarter, scoring a measly two points, and allowing the Chieftains to pull in front, 26-23. But in the fourth, the Wildcats took the game back, exploding for a 17-point quarter behind scoring from five players, and big shots from bench players. With six minutes left, Nesbitt would incur her final foul, and Butler would run the point, only to exit with an injury at the four-minute mark. For the remainder of the game, senior Sammy Cunningham-Darrah took over command of the offense, leading the Wildcats to a strong finish. The Wildcats’ depth at the guard position is something that coach Buddy Hayford says not every team is lucky enough to have.
“Having three kids who can handle the ball, that’s a rarity in high school basketball,” said Hayford. “I’m impressed with the fact that without two of our best players on the floor, we hang on. We have people back at positions where they belong this year, and it’s great having Savannah back running the show. She’s capable of taking over a game and it adds a whole new dimension. Having Colton and Sammy forced to play point last year helped us win this game, because there were no jitters when I told them they had to run the offense.”
Along with Nesbitt’s 12, Butler scored eight points and recorded seven rebounds. Jessica Fox added eight points, while Hannah Swanson added six points and had a monster day on the boards with 17 rebounds.
Kristina Knackenhauer had 12 points for Green Mountain, while top scorer Madi Huntley was held to eight points.
TV 52 Woodstock 31
Playing in their first home game of the season, the Wildcats wouldn’t let down the hometown crowd, blasting off to an early 14-0 first quarter lead, that never dipped below eight for the remainder of the game and securing a 2-0 start on the season.
Sammy Cunningham-Darrah had a career night for the Wildcats. Helping to spark a 20-10 first quarter lead, the senior captain knocked down five points, including one of three bombs from beyond the arc. Hannah Swanson and Savannah Nesbitt would add 11 combined in the first quarter as well. Twin Valley used a full-court zone defense in the first half as well as their height advantage to deny the Wasps an opportunity to get back into the game.
Woodstock managed to sting the Wildcats in the second quarter by jacking up three-pointers. Twin Valley’s aggressive zone defense would leave Woodstock’s shooters open, and the Wasps made them pay with 11 second-quarter points to cut the halftime lead to eight, 29-21. Twin Valley made the right adjustments at the half, coming out of the locker room to dominate the second half with 23 points over the next two quarters.
The Wasps wouldn’t hit another three-pointer as Twin Valley dialed up a full-court man-to-man defense. Hannah Swanson alone would outscore Woodstock in the third, as the Wasps were only able to muster four points, while Swanson put in five. Savannah Nesbitt would score six in the fourth and Twin Valley cruised to victory.
Nesbitt ended with 16 points and six rebounds while Cunningham-Darrah scored 13 and Swanson scored 10. Colton Butler had another great game off the bench, scoring seven, collecting six boards and four steals, and dishing out three assists.
TV 41 Sharon Acadmey 18
Twin Valley defeated Sharon Academy Monday night, wrapping up their first week of games with a perfect 3-0 start. The Wildcats dominated the Phoenix from tipoff, maintaining a double-digit lead halfway through the second quarter to the end of regulation.
Savannah Nesbitt got the Wildcats off to an aggressive start, scoring six of the team’s 10 points in the first quarter. Twin Valley came out with an aggressive full-court press defense, one that Sharon Academy had neither the answers nor the ball handlers to counter. The Wildcats are defensively dominant in their aggression, to the point that Sharon only got one field goal off in the first three minutes. That same defense allowed the Phoenix to score only on free-throw attempts in the first quarter.
The Wildcats could have completely run away with the game, but inside shooting in the paint has been their Achilles’ heel. While Twin Valley’s entire team shows strength in offensive rebounding, often the put-back is hurried and wastes an opportunity. This is something coach Buddy Hayford knows his girls will need to work on, especially with their toughest two opponents ahead this week in West Rutland and Mount St. Joseph. “We probably could have put up 80 points on Sharon,” said Hayford. “We’ve been very bad from the free-throw line and from underneath, and that’s been a bit of frustration for the kids. I think it’s due to a lack of focus, and I hope it’s something that corrects itself with hard work.”
Twin Valley outscored the Phoenix 15-4 in the second quarter, and guard Colton Butler kept knocking down shots in the second half to pile it on and earn a record career-high 14 points. Nesbitt once again scored double digits with 10 points and seven assists, and Sammy Cunningham-Darrah scored seven. Christina Moore collected a season-high 13 boards, while forward Kirra Courchesne grabbed seven. Suzie Morris led Sharon with seven points.
Twin Valley travels to Chester to wrap up the Green Mountain Holiday Tournament against MSJ on Friday.