FAIR HAVEN — Fair Haven threw a blanket of furious defense over Springfield and ran away to a 79-25 victory in Friday’s boys Marble Valley League season opener.
When the defense took away the ball, the Slaters went in for two of their 42 points in the paint. When it didn’t, one of five Slaters hit 3-pointers, with five of their nine coming in the first half.
There was little in between. There really didn’t need to be for the defending state champions.
“I told (Fair Haven coach Bob Prenevost) after the game that’s one of the best Division II teams I’ve seen in my time in Vermont,” said Cosmos coach Mike Ruppel. “One through 10, they get after you. And there are times we played good defense and they drove, kicked and shot 3s. They shoot the heck out of it.”
Springfield had 18 turnovers by halftime and trailed 43-15. An 18-0 run by Fair Haven to start the third period tucked the game safely away.
“We try to come out with some intensity and pace because we want to play fast,” Prenevost said. “We’re going to try to press all season if we can. Once our feet are going our offense flows and our quick break flows and our offensive sets go.”
Cam Coloutti had 17 points, Kohlby Murray 13, Parker Morse 12 and Aubrey Ramey 10 for the Slaters. Damian Warner and Noah Zierfus had eight apiece for the Cosmos.
Warner and Ziefrus returned early fire with a 3 apiece but little structure was evident in the Cosmos’ offensive end because the Slaters did everything in their power to make them uncomfortable all over the court. The Slaters had nine steals in the first half alone.
“I think our kids played hard but we’ve got to make better decisions,” Ruppel said. “I thought the defense dictated to us. We’ve got to be more composed when a team gets up in us like Fair Haven did.”
Ramey’s 10 points — with two treys — and the Slaters transition game defined the first eight minutes. Murray, last year’s JV point guard, had an impressive debut with his quickness, tenacity and passing but the Slaters as a whole were impressive sharing the ball with crisp passes.
Coloutti, the Slaters’ heralded scorer, imposed his will inside and out with 10 points in the second and Murray had 11 of his 13 by halftime as Fair Haven put a death grip on the outcome early.
The Springfield coaching staff was gentle in the postgame locker room, pointing out the good things they saw, while the Cosmos were quick to point out what they need to work out.
“We knew we weren’t going to be the best we can be on Dec. 7,” Ruppel said. “They’re feeling OK. They know what we have to work on. Now we go back in the gym and we try to get better.”