When the Rutland boys basketball team is playing within a flow, it can be one of the most dangerous teams in the state.
The Raiders found their offensive flow late in Tuesday night’s matchup against Burr and Burton and pulled out a 53-44 win at the College of Saint Joseph.
Rutland led for much of the contest, but found itself trailing heading into the fourth.
Some careless possessions from the Raiders and strong play from the Bulldogs, led BBA to a 9-0 run out of the half, giving them their first lead of the night.
Rutland battled back and a block by Malik Hendrickson led to a contested transition lay-up for Eli Pockette on the other end.
“That play was huge,” said Rutland coach Mike Wood. “I thought that play kind of changed the momentum.”
Down one point heading into the fourth, the Raiders dominated the early stretch of the quarter to take control of play. A 7-0 Rutland run gave it a lead it would not surrender.
“We were really sluggish in the second and third period. We didn’t get into anything defensively, we weren’t playing fast and we weren’t moving without the ball,” Wood said. “We talked about sustaining energy for four quarters. We found a good rhythm and a group that was hot, so we rolled with them.”
A few dagger 3’s down the stretch by Maddox Traynor and John Foley created separation and sealed the Raiders’ win.
Traynor was deadly from 3-point range all night, knocking down six treys in his 20-point outing.
As a team, Rutland knocked down 11 long-range shots.
“Give Rutland credit, they made some long 3’s,” said BBA coach Seth Rice. “I thought a couple of them were really well-contested, but they just made them.”
Rutland came out with a ton of energy from the opening tip. The Raiders jumped out to a 5-0 lead midway through the quarter, forcing the Bulldogs to call a timeout. Out of the stoppage, Rutland scored five more points in the ensuring minute to force another timeout.
Rice wanted his team to settle down and just play their game in that moment.
“These guys have played against each other in AAU and I think we were a little too hyped up and we needed to settle down,” Rice said.
BBA quickly whittled down the Rutland lead to five by quarter’s end and matched the Raiders in stride as the half progressed. The Bulldogs’ stingy defensive play keyed their resurgence.
Guards Tommy Baker and Dom DeRita both were ballhawks and had five steals apiece to lead the effort.
“We’re not very big, but that’s how we try to generate points, off our defense,” Rice said.
“We were a little careless with the ball,” Wood said.
Baker and DeRita did the most offensive damage for BBA as well. Baker hit a trio of 3’s and DeRita had nine points, getting to the basket at will.
“They are good players and they were a point of emphasis going in,” Wood said. “They did a nice of getting to the rim at times. Going into the fourth quarter, we felt like those were the guys we needed to slow down to come back and win the game.”
The bench stepped up in a big way for the Raiders throughout the night. Whether it was Foley’s clutch 3, Eli Pockette’s energy or Jevan Valente’s work on the boards, the Raiders relied on their second unit and were rewarded for it.
“John Foley hit a big 3 and Jevan played well throughout the game,” Wood said. “(Jevan) hit a really big 3 and made a lot good passes. He continues to get better. We’re really throwing him into the fire.”
Rutland improves to 5-3 and travels to St. Johnsbury Saturday afternoon.
BBA falls to 4-6.