What began as an evenly matched struggle between rival schools turned into a landslide victory for the Twin Valley Wildcats as Savannah Nesbitt and Sammy Cunningham-Darrah combined for 31 points to help defeat the Leland & Gray rebels Monday night, 52-32.
The Rebels looked sharp in the first quarter, scoring first on a Jordan Gouger three-pointer. But Cunningham-Darrah knocked down three three-pointers in the first to set the tone for the rest of the game. The Wildcats were able to establish a rebounding game early with Hannah Swanson and Kirra Courchesne controlling the boards and scoring in the paint. While the Rebels were able to find baskets in their own paint, Courchesne had four points in the first frame off offensive rebounds to help the ‘Cats take a 15-12 lead.
The second quarter saw aggressive play on both sides of the court, but the Rebel turnovers began to stack up as Nesbitt seemed to be everywhere to intercept passes. Nesbitt seemed to do it all in the second quarter. Along with creating turnovers, Nesbitt set the tone early with a tough hook shot and multiple assists, one to Teya Johnson, back from injury, who knocked down a big three-pointer to put the Wildcats up by nine.
With a 31-22 lead at the half, the Wildcats’ goal was to lead by 15, then 20 points. They did just that as they came out firing on all cylinders. It seemed like nothing could stop the ‘Cats as their half-court zone press created turnover after turnover. Twin Valley outscored the Rebels 19-3 in the quarter as Cunningham-Darrah and Nesbitt each hit three-pointers and Courchesne, Swanson, and Christina Moore contributed from underneath the basket. Nesbitt scored on a three-point play at the end of the quarter to put her team up 50-25. Twin Valley took a back seat in the fourth and finished with the win.
Nesbitt ended the game with 15 points, four assists, and five steals. Cunningham-Darrah had 16 points, three assists, and four steals, all gathered in the second half. Courchesne finished with a career-high eight points and five rebounds. Twin Valley defeated the Rebels 45-22 on the boards while only committing 16 turnovers. Rachel Borgesen scored a team-high 15 for the Rebels.
“We have to shoot well like we did in that game,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “We have to defend and rebound like we did, and take care of the basketball like we did.” One thing Hayford said his team needs to work on down the stretch is committing fouls. “ We commit too many fouls,” said Hayford. “My girls are a pretty hands-on team and they get fouls early on. We need to make sure there are not enough to hurt us.”
TV 42 Mid-Vermont 28
While the Wildcats defeated Mid-Vermont Christian Academy by 14 points Wednesday night, the score doesn’t tell the whole story. With six players to their team Wednesday night, Mid-Vermont should have been an easy foe to defeat, but in the first half of play, this match was anything but a cakewalk.
Sammy Cunningham-Darrah was able to get the first of her seven steals and knock down a layup for an early lead. Savannah Nesbitt would add four points in the quarter, and Hannah Swanson added three. But Mid-Vermont hung around as Rachel and Phoebe Seale combined for five points to keep the Wildcats from running away. Twin Valley was sloppy with their transition and fast-break opportunities in the first quarter, and while their full court press defense was effective, they racked up early fouls.
In the second quarter, Kirra Courchesne would score four straight points to put Twin Valley in the driver’s seat 14-7, but four straight scores by Mid-Vermont once again made the game a one-point bout. Phoebe Seale had eight of her 11 points in the second quarter as her height, mixed with her left-handed shot, made for a tough challenge under the hoop. While Twin Valley was outscored 13-10 in the quarter, their defense continued to look strong and force turnovers. At times, Mid-Vermont would have trouble even getting the ball inbounds, or advancing past the first line of full-court defense.
With the score tied 18 at the half, the Wildcats needed to pull away, but, for one more quarter, Mid-Vermont hung around as Rachel Carlson scored six of her eight points in the quarter. Twin Valley figured out how to stop the six-foot Seale sisters, Phoebe and Anna, and Colton Butler knocked down a big three-pointer to get her scoring back on track. The fourth quarter is where the Wildcats finally pulled away. The Twin Valley defense finally wore down Mid-Vermont and a slew of turnovers allowed for big breakaway buckets, and fast-break layups. Nesbitt had six of her 12 points in the quarter, while Teya Johnson knocked down a huge three-pointer to put her team up by 10. Twin Valley held their opponents to just five points on the quarter and eight overall in the second half.
Nesbitt led the ‘Cats with 12 points, four rebounds, four assists, four blocks, and six steals. Courchesne continued her steady upward climb with another career-high night with 11 points and five rebounds. Swanson added seven points and 10 rebounds, and Cunningham-Darrah contributed seven steals.
Phoebe Seale led Mid-Vermont with 11 points, while Carlson added eight. With their toughest matchups behind them, the Wildcats will still be battle-tested come playoff time, with matches against Arlington and Rivendell ahead to test their grit. Coach Buddy Hayford says that his girls need to continue playing as a team in order to continue winning in the second half of the season.
“That was a rough game at times and that was OK,” said Hayford. “We’re not a bunch of wallflowers either. You have to compete, play as a team, and work hard, and that goes without saying. We have to keep winning with defense and rebounding. We’ve been hitting boards hard and if we defend like we did last night well be OK.”
The Wildcats travel to Bellows Falls today for a 7 pm matchup.