WEST RUTLAND — Paige Karl freelanced off Green Mountain’s in-bounds play to ring up the winning hoop on a layup with 47 seconds left, giving the Chieftains a 38-36 victory over West Rutland in Saturday’s girls basketball game
The play was to have the ball go right back to the player in-bounding the ball.
“We have the same in-bounds play everyone else in Vermont has and West Rutland sniffed it out,” Green Mountain coach Terry Farrell said.
“We were trying to run a new play we had just put in but I just saw that the lane was open so I took it,” Karl said.
This is a senior heavy Green Mountain team. All five starters are from the Class of 2019 and there are seven from that class on the roster.
It is a group that Farrell has leaned on to retread the program after the school did not even field a team at the varsity level five years ago.
It has evidently worked because the Chieftains are 12-3.
“It’s been our goal to get to Barre (site of the Final Four). Last year we lost in the first round so that has really motivated us,” Karl said.
West Rutland has its own designs on getting to Barre for the Division IV tournament, something the Golden Horde has been able to do year in and year out. They are on course again with a 10-5 record.
The Horde burst out of the gate. Kasey Serrani scored two quick inside hoops and then Elizabeth Bailey knocked one down from the outside to make it 6-0, prompting Farrell to call a timeout.
West Rutland remained in control throughout the first stanza with Jenee McGee nailing two 3-point field goals and Kiana Grabowski another buzzer-beating trey. When it was over Westside was sitting atop a 17-10 lead.
The Chieftains were much better in the second quarter. Maya Lewis had two 3s in the period and the second one gave Green Mountain its first lead, 21-20.
Again, West Rutland beat the buzzer. Six-foot freshman Isabell Lanfear scored on a putback just before the half ended, sending the Horde to the locker room with a 24-23 lead.
Bailey is a 6-foot-1 sophomore and a dangerous weapon. But sometimes the Chieftains were able to pick off the lob pass intended for her near the basket.
But Kiera Pipeling’s soft entry pass was on the money and Bailey finished it off to pull the Horde into a 26-26 tie.
This would be the game the rest of the way with neither team able to separate itself from the other.
Annie Lamson drove for a layup off a turnover to recapture the lead for Green Mountain and the Chieftans were able to take a 31-27 lead into the fourth quarter.
“Annie was big for us today. She did a lot of things,” Farrell said.
The Chieftans took that cushion into the final quarter but they were also plagued by foul trouble. Hannah Buffum and Rachel Guerra wound up fouling out and Karl played with four personals for a lengthy amount of time.
The Horde took advantage. Pipeling drove the length of the floor for a layup and Lanfear scored on a putback to tie the score at 31 with 6:08 remaining.
Bailey caught another entry pass and was fouled in the act of shooting. She drained both free throws and the Horde was in front 33-31 with 3:42 to go.
Both teams were now in the double bonus and when Buffum was fouled, she made good on both free throws to tie the game.
Free throws would be precious from then on and Karl made three to give Green Mountain a 36-33 lead with 1:23 left.
Serrani made a free throw and Grabowski made both of hers to deadlock the game at 36 with 1:01 remaining.
That set the stage for Karl and her heady play that provided the winning field goal.
“We’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got the size and we aren’t taking advantage of it,” Westside coach Carl Serrani said.
Bearing him out was the fact the Chieftains held the edge in rebounds, 33-21.
Buffum led the Chieftains with 10 points. Lewis followed with nine, Lamson added six and Guerra and Karl contributed five apiece.
Bailey led the Golden Horde with 10 points. McGee, Grabowski and Serrani added six points apiece.
The victory gave the Chiefs the series sweep against West Rutland.
The Chieftains will try to improve their Division III playoff seed next week in games against Woodstock and Leland & Gray.
The Golden Horde has a key Division IV contest Thursday at rival Proctor.