TV 72 Poultney 56
The Blue Devils rolled into the Twin Valley gym with bragging rights. The only team to beat the Wildcats this season, Poultney wanted to avoid a loss to the Wildcats, which would result in having to share the Marble Valley League Championship. The Wildcats were determined to not be outdone a second time.
Colin Lozito led the charge, scoring 25 points, including nine in a runaway third quarter and 17 in the second half. Cade Nesbitt had nine points, but dazzled defensively. Seemingly everywhere at once, Nesbitt racked up six steals on the night.
Twin Valley came out with zone defense in the first quarter and went down a quick 5-0 on shots from Poultney’s Sam White and Joe Brown. But Twin Valley gradually found their bearings and steals from Nesbitt and Eli Park, and a three-point play from Dal Nesbitt, put them up 7-5. Park, Sam Molner, Skyler Boyd, and DJ Lazelle kept Poultney’s big man White bottled up inside, and TJ Felisko, Lozito and the Nesbitt brothers worked hard on the perimeter harassing Poultney’s shooters.
The Wildcats used a halfcourt press in the second quarter, springing rushed shots on the Blue Devils as well as steals. The aggressive nature that has defined the Wildcats’ season once again allowed them to run away with the game, outscoring Poultney 22-4 in the second quarter.
“This game was a test to see what we had for the playoffs,” said Cade Nesbitt. “This was the toughest game of the past three and if we play like we did in the first half, it’s like Coach told us, no one will be able to match up against us in the playoffs.”
The scoring onslaught continued in the third quarter as Lozito and Nesbitt lit up the scoreboard, combining for 16 points. Poultney scored seven straight at the end of the quarter, but Twin Valley now held a 26-point lead. Wade scored 15 for Poultney as they tried to scrape their way back in the fourth quarter, but it was too late, and Twin Valley finished with their fourth straight 70-plus-point game.
Since losing to Poultney, at the beginning of the month, the Wildcats have averaged just over 77 points per game, and according to coach Chris Brown, the key to his team’s success has been their focus, keeping their eyes on the big prize. “Since their loss, they’ve been refocused, and put together a great string of dominant wins,” said Brown. “We’re now the #1 seed, and some may say we’re the team to beat, but we have a lot of work to do. The boys are extremely motivated, and have one thing in mind, and that’s winning a championship.”
“Its really good to have the #1 seed and have two home games,” said Nesbitt.” That’s going to be nice for the fans and us too.”
Nesbitt said this was his first season playing on an above .500 team, and the biggest piece in the puzzle has been the team chemistry. “It took us a while to bond together as a team even though we had three years to do it,” said Nesbitt. “This year you can really see it meshing and everyone’s worked on their individual game all year and that’s what put us where we are now.”
TV 65 Green Mountain 52
After beginning their matchup with Green Mountain from behind after the end of the first quarter, four Wildcats turned in double-digit scoring to key the Twin Valley Wildcats to their team-record-tying 19th win of the season. Colin Lozito led all scorers with 16 as Twin Valley defeated Green Mountain 65-52.
The Nesbitt brothers, Cade and Dal, scored 14 and 12 respectively, and Sam Molner added 11 points and 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the year. Twin Valley ended the season with the #1 seed in the Division IV playoffs, and remained undefeated at home with a 10-0 record on their home court. Thirteen of Twin Valley’s wins this season have been double-digit victories.
TV 72 Websterville Baptist 29
Colin Lozito looked determined after Tuesday’s first round playoff victory over Websterville Baptist. From his demeanor, you couldn’t tell he had just entered the 1,000-point club, or had just a few weeks ago become the team’s all-time assist leader. It’s not to say he doesn’t enjoy the personal glory, but for Lozito, the competitive fire is so strong that his focus is on one thing, and one thing only, getting to the Barre Auditorium. “It means a lot to me but I’m glad I got it out of the way for the playoffs,” said Lozito. “Now we can focus on winning and getting to the Aud. The credit goes to every other player, they’re all there for me and made it happen for me.”
Lozito joins Dal Nesbitt in the 1,000-point club this season, after Nesbitt achieved the mark against West Rutland earlier this month. In both soccer and basketball, Lozito and Nesbitt have created a one-two scoring punch, playing off each other with a natural fluency. To score 1,000 points in the same season as Nesbitt makes the mark even more special for Lozito. “We work well together, somehow, some way, we just make it happen, and it means a lot. I saw Dal score his 1,000th point and I said ‘Man, I want to be just like Dal, I want that to happen.’”
Lozito needed 25 points to reach the 1,000-point mark, and he got off to a rip-roaring start in the first quarter, scoring 10 of his team’s 21 points. Twin Valley outmatched the Warriors in every offensive facet except inside shooting where the Warriors 6’5” center Hayden McIntyre had a field day swatting away layups. So the Wildcats relied on their outside shooting, and got plenty of it from Lozito and Nesbitt. In the second quarter, Twin Valley had trouble nailing down shots, but had little to fear as their defense greatly outmatched and outsized Websterville’s guards and forwards. Noah Johnson was able to get a few buckets to fall however, along with Wyatt Morrison. Twin Valley was held to only six points in the quarter, holding a 27-14 lead at the half.
The Wildcats stormed out of the locker room with an 18-2 run and used a multitude of rotations to get 17 points from their bench players. A team made up of mostly freshmen that won one game all year, Websterville played with heart, and McIntyre kept his team as close as he could, earning a resounding applause from the Twin Valley crowd as he finally exited the game with a minute to go. The Wildcats would cruise through the second half, outscoring the Warriors 43-15, and recording 42 rebounds and 19 steals in the game.
The Wildcats will host Twinfield Friday night at 7. With their easiest game behind them, Lozito said the Wildcats have to focus on what they do best. “From here on out, we have to utilize our strengths. We’re a fast team so if we can create turnovers on defense and get on the break that will be key.”
Coach Chris Brown said the Wildcats will need to play with everything they have, no matter who their opponent is Friday night. “We’re going to have to be on our game for the full 32 minutes. We can’t slack at all. I hope the boys are up to the task and play their best basketball of the season in all aspects.”
Brown also said he was proud of his point guard for reaching 1,000 points. “It speaks to his work ethic and the time and effort he’s put into his game. It’s a great accomplishment for him, I’m extremely proud of him, and I’m especially proud of how he plays with heart.”