Wildcats blow out two opponents, but end on wrong end of score against MSJ
by Jack Deming
Jan 18, 2014 | 2879 views | 0 0 comments | 98 98 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Twin Valley’s Hannah Swanson breaks by two Poultney defenders on her way to the basket. She finished the night with nine points and seven rebounds.
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WILMINGTON- The Twin Valley Wildcat girls’ basketball team had a good week, beating two opponents by double digit scores, only to fall to Mount St. Joseph Academy in an ugly road loss. At the halfway point of the season, this team is finding success from their shooters, while playing solid defense against evenly matched teams. While free-throw shooting has seen some improvements game to game, the Wildcats are still showing weakness in their short game, a trait that must improve in order for this team to make a splash in the Division IV tournament. But with a 6-4 record, the Wildcats are showing they are for real, and ready to take on the second half of the season and capture a home playoff birth.

TV 57 Poultney 17

Some games are tough, others you can win by 40 points. The Twin Valley Wildcats found themselves completing the latter last Thursday night, playing a small, young team featuring only seven players in the Poultney Blue Devils.

Hannah Swanson led her team out of the tipoff by scoring seven of her nine points in the first quarter. Swanson was one of five Wildcats to get in the scoring column in the first quarter as they took an easy 17-0 lead. Colton Butler added another double-digit scoring game to her resume, while Sammy Cunningham-Darrah knocked down two more three-pointers on the night.

At halftime the ‘Cats had a comfortable 27-2 lead, but Poultney did not roll over, a trait that Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford said shows self-respect. “They’re winless, they’re young, and they don’t have much height, but I give those kids credit,” said Hayford. “How easy it would have been to pack it in and throw in the towel at the half, but they played all 32 minutes.”

In the remaining 16 minutes, the Wildcats scored 30 more points, while defeating the Blue Devils on the boards 27-17 on the night. The ‘Cats also knocked down 15 blocks, and with a lopsided game, Twin Valley found time to work on their zone offense and defensive play. “We got to work on our man-to-man defense because we have not had a lot of confidence in it, but this was a game where we could play a lot of man and get away with it. I hope they carry over some confidence that they can play it and do it right.”

Hayford also noted his team’s free-throw shooting is improving as his team went 8-11 from the line. Butler finished with a team-high 14 points and eight rebounds, while Swanson added seven rebounds to her nine points. Christina Moore recorded eight points and 10 rebounds, and Kirra Courchesne scored a career-high seven points and swatted three shots. Abby Lamberton finished with seven points for the Blue Devils.

TV 48 Mt. Everett 34

Playing an athletic, 4-1 opponent from the competitive ranks of Massachusetts is a mysterious challenge, a “trap game” as the professionals call it. But the Twin Valley Wildcats got their sixth victory of the season, keeping the Eagles scoreless for a 12:30 stretch in the second and third quarters, and rolling to a 48-34 victory.

Twin Valley came out hot, reaching a 9-2 lead in the first four minutes of play. The ‘Cats used backdoor passes to create scores under the basket while Savannah Nesbitt worked the rock around the three-point line to shooters Colton Butler and Sammy Cunningham-Darrah. Nesbitt scored six on the quarter while Butler added five.

The Eagles would find their way back into the game, using the last four minutes of the first quarter to make defensive adjustments and better execute their zone defense. Mt. Everett pulled the game back to a two-point match going into the second 13-11.

For the next two quarters it was all Twin Valley. The second quarter was a shutout as Twin Valley rolled on a 14-0 run. Cunningham-Darrah nailed two big three-pointers to let the ‘Cats pull away, while point guard Nesbitt added a three of her own and forced three big steals. The Wildcats continued to shut out the Eagles for the next 4:30 coming out of the half. Kirra Courchesne knocked down four points on breakaway layups in the third quarter while Cunningham-Darrah knocked down another three.

The Eagles came alive in the fourth quarter as Mt. Everett’s seventh-grader (in Massachusetts seventh- and eighth-graders can play varsity sports) Gwen Carpenter scored 16 of the Eagles 18 points, including four three pointers. The Eagles played a stifling press defense, but the Wildcats had a large enough lead and while only scoring nine points in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats cruised to a double-digit win.

“I never felt like the game was in jeopardy, but the fourth quarter was a little too interesting,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “We’re executing our offense, and whether it was man or zone we were playing against, they were more patient then they’ve been all season. That’s something we stress is be patient against zone defenses.”

Cunningham-Darrah, Butler, and Nesbitt all finished with double-digit points with 12,11, and 10 respectively, a statistic that makes it tough for a defense to focus on any one player. Twin Valley out-rebounded the Eagles 39-23, with Cunningham-Darrah and Butler combining for 14 boards, while Hannah Swanson collected 10 of her own. Carpenter led Mt. Everett with her 16 fourth quarter points.

MSJ 36 TV 16

After two double-digit wins, the Twin Valley Wildcats finished their week with a tough double-digit loss at Mount St. Joseph. While the ‘Cats were able to put together a solid defensive effort, their offense was simply not there, and committing a whopping 28 turnovers certainly did not help their efforts.

Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford said it was a road game his girls simply needed to forget. “ We haven’t played that poor in years,” said Hayford. “We were totally out of sorts, and it was an unacceptable performance. I told the girls after the game it would be best to forget we took this trip to Rutland.”

The Wildcats kept the game within reach going into the half. In the first quarter, the ‘Cats only allowed five points, but a measly two points on their end showed they were unable to take advantage of their strong defensive play. Twin Valley once again had trouble putting in easy shots under the hoop that could have changed the game’s landscape. The second quarter was no kinder to the Twin Valley offensive effort as the Wildcats only scrounged up three points while holding MSJ to 10.

In the third quarter, MSJ began to take advantage of their great defense and pull away, outscoring Twin Valley 9-2. The fourth quarter was slightly kinder to the ‘Cats offensively, but the damage was done, three quarters totaling seven points created an insurmountable deficit.

“They played very well defensively against us,” said Hayford. “MSJ is a better team, bottom line. This is the second time they beat us this year, and they really make us work and we didn’t help ourselves at all.”

Twin Valley refused to allow a double-digit scorer defensively, but Sally Hogan led MSJ with eight points. Savannah Nesbitt and Colton Butler each had four points for the Wildcats while Butler and Hannah Swanson combined for 14 rebounds.

Twin Valley is 6-4 on the season. The Wildcats host the Leland & Gray Rebels Monday night at 7.
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