BARRE — Fair Haven boys basketball coach Bob Prenevost scanned the sidelines and glistening hardwood floor of Barre Auditorium for the Division II state championship and found family in his every glance.
He could watch his grandson Sawyer Ramey giving Montpelier guards fits with his swift moves on the drive, or his passing skills well beyond his freshman years.
He could move his glance to see another grandson, Aubrey Ramey, battling for rebounds on the block or hitting a crucial corner 3.
If he needed a moment of calm, he could look to his son-in-law Eric Ramey, who sat on the Slaters’ bench watching his two sons try to finish out a magical season with their teammates.
When Fair Haven brought home its second state championship in three years, and the third in Prenevost’s tenure, with a 53-52 win over the Solons, the longtime coach could experience the elation alongside those he loves the most.
Prenevost coached Aubrey and the Slaters to a championship two seasons ago, but with Sawyer in the fold this time around, it feels special.
“I had a son who played for me for years, and to have two grandchildren being on the team is amazing,” Prenevost said. “It’s awesome. I can’t say enough for the whole team.”
The connection between Aubrey and Sawyer when they’re on the floor together is clear. All those years playing in the driveway truly paid off with the bright lights of ‘The Aud’ shining down on them.
A small glimpse of their inherent chemistry came at the end of the first half Saturday, when Sawyer drove into the paint and spotted Aubrey around the basket for a buzzer-beating hoop.
For Aubrey, winning state championships has become common in his high school career. This was his second in basketball, to go with a baseball and football championship.
Like his grandad, winning this one alongside his family has special feeling.
“It’s indescribable. You can’t put it into words,” Aubrey said. “The second time with my grandfather, having my dad on the bench and having my brother with me, it’s amazing.”
Aubrey hasn’t always been called upon to shoot the ball for the Slaters, who finished the season 23-1. Instead, he’s been tasked with providing effort and energy.
Saturday against Montpelier, he was put in positions where he had to be the guy to take the key shot, and when he did, he came through. Aubrey had 10 points, with a pair of crucial 3s, to go along with five boards.
While Saturday’s game wraps up Aubrey’s high school career, Sawyer’s is just getting started.
The speedy freshman took the state by storm with his basketball IQ and his skill level this season. He wasn’t scared of the big moment, and instead, he thrived in it.
The state of Vermont has a load on its hands as he only matures more and more on the court.
“This is a big stage. (Sawyer’s) been coming to Barre since like the third grade,” Prenevost said. “He knew what to expect. The first game he had some jitters, but today, he was a lot better and was more on his feet.”
Sawyer scored 15 points, trailing junior Zack Ellis’ 17 that led the Slaters. His ability to pick apart the defense with his deft passing touch was on display as well.
Even in the early stage of his high school career, the weight of Saturday’s win wasn’t lost on the freshman.
“It’s what we worked for all year and we got it, so it’s awesome,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer and Aubrey grew up around their grandad’s program. They had an inside look from a very young age about what he preaches to his players and the effort he expects every day.
“It helps so much, being my first year on varsity,” Sawyer said. “I knew what was going on and what to expect. It made the transition a lot easier.”
“I’ve been able to see what it’s like at a top level,” Aubrey said. “I came here when I was younger with my grandpa. Being able to play in this atmosphere and being with this team is a special feeling.”
Both Sawyer and Aubrey have come a long way since being ball boys for Prenevost’s teams as kids.
Eric Ramey has a unique experience as an assistant on his father-in-law’s staff. He gets to see the work his kids put in on a daily basis to achieve their dreams. It’s something he can’t fully grasp the gravity of now.
“I’m not sure I know how much it means right now,” Eric said. “I’m happy for my kids and I’m happy for Bob, they’ve put in a lot of time together. I think it will probably hit me a lot more down the road than it does now. This is about the boys and their high school experience.”