Sawyer Ramey

Fair Haven guard Sawyer Ramey drives toward the hoop during a boys basketball game.

There’s not much that compares to the moment of cutting down the nets at the Barre Auditorium.

Every small piece of the cut down net represents each small step a team has taken to getting to that stage.

The two Division IV boys basketball teams in the driver’s seat to experience that elusive moment aren’t familiar with that stage, but surely are starting to see how viable those dreams are.

Long Trail and Mid-Vermont Christian have a combined one trip to the Barre Auditorium between them, but they have looked like the class of Division IV boys hoops this winter.

LTS made its lone trip to Barre last winter, where they were upset in the state semifinals by eventual runner-up White River Valley. It was easily the most successful year in the short history of the sport at the Dorset school.

Mid-Vermont has yet to experience the aura of The Aud. The Eagles had a breakthrough winning season last winter and have continued to build momentum this year.

The Mountain Lions and Eagles met earlier in the month in what was one of the most competitive games they’ve played all season. On that day, it was LTS escaping with a six-point victory.

Long Trail was unbeaten at that time and that has since changed with the Mountain Lions falling to Division III Springfield this past week. Like elite teams do, LTS quickly shook off that loss and looked great in its game against Proctor on Friday.

There are a lot of competitive teams in Division IV this winter. Danville is strong once again, defending champion Blue Mountain is back with a vengeance and teams like Rivendell, Twinfield and Arlington can’t be ignored either.

But there’s nothing like a chip on your shoulder to motivate you. Long Trail and Mid-Vermont Christian have that, so it’s hard to bet against them.

Long Trail and Mid-Vermont top the list of Division IV teams once again in the divisional rankings of this week’s Rutland Herald/Times Argus boys basketball power rankings.

Let’s jump into the rankings, which were constructed before Tuesday’s games. A team’s previous ranking is in parentheses.

1. Rice 9-0 (1). The Green Knights were idle since the last rankings and remain the top dog in Division I. A matchup with St. Johnsbury after these rankings were constructed on Tuesday is a tough challenge.

2. CVU 10-1 (2). It was another standout week for the Redhawks that look like more and more of a lock to get back to Patrick Gymnasium for the state semifinals once again. Colchester and Burlington gave them good games, but CVU prevailed.

3. Spaulding 9-0 (3). The Crimson Tide made another statement this week, finishing a regular season sweep of rival Montpelier. Not many teams can claim they’ve done that over the last couple years.

4. Fair Haven 9-0 (5). The Slaters keep rolling, finding a way to beat a scrappy Woodstock team last week, once again with multiple guys stepping up A showdown with one-loss Hartford looms on Thursday, if incoming snow doesn’t have a say in the matter.

5. Montpelier 6-3 (4). The Solons have faced more adversity this year than they have in the last couple of seasons and it will be interesting to see how they respond. There is a lot of young talent on the squad that is growing up quick.

6. South Burlington 6-3 (7). The Wolves have proven to be an upper-echelon club in Division I. A double-digit win against a very competitive BFA-St. Albans club is another impressive feather in SB’s cap.

7. St. Johnsbury 5-3 (8). The Hilltoppers bounced back nicely from a loss to BFA by beating Mount Mansfield later in the week. The middle of Division I has so many tough teams, so no game will ever be an easy victory.

8. Mount Mansfield 6-4 (6). The Cougars had a very similar week to the Hilltoppers that slot just above them in the rankings, but get edged by St. Johnsbury due to the head to the head-to-head matchup this past week.

9. North Country 10-2 (9). It was a perfect week for the Falcons, who pushed their win streak to five games. The closest margin of victory during that run was 13 points.

10. Hartford 9-1 (UR). The scheduled matchup with Fair Haven will arguably be the Hurricanes’ biggest test of the season and it doesn’t get any easier with D-I Brattleboro following that, but Hartford has yet to back down from a challenge.

On the bubble: BFA-St. Albans, Brattleboro, Mount St. Joseph, Winooski.

TOP FIVESDivision I: 1. Rice; 2. CVU; 3. South Burlington; 4. St. Johnsbury; 5. Mount Mansfield.

Division II: 1. Spaulding; 2. Fair Haven; 3. Montpelier; 4. North Country; 5. Hartford.

Division III: 1. Winooski; 2. Hazen; 3. Thetford; 4. Richford; 5. Bellows Falls.

Division IV: 1. Long Trail; 2. Mid-Vermont Christian; 3. Blue Mountain; 4. Danville; 5. Rivendell.

adam.aucoin

@rutlandherald.com

Follow on Twitter: @AAucoin_RH

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