Since Rutland won its Division I state crown in girls basketball in 2005, the Raiders have wallowed in a lot of mediocrity. Haven’t been bad, haven’t been real good. Plenty of .500 or so seasons in recent years.
But this year’s edition of Raider basketball isn’t mediocre. Rutland has brought plenty of excitement to the city and Keefe Gym with its 11-5 record and challenge for a top-four seed.
The excitement continues. The Raiders travel to Manchester on Thursday with Elise Magro within striking distance of the 1,000-point milestone. Eight more points and she becomes the first in program history to achieve the cherished mark.
Then, Rutland hosts Brattleboro in what could be a telling game. The Raiders lost to the Colonels on the road and would make an emphatic statement by turning the tables.
But all of the excitement in Rutland County is not confined to Division I. Fair Haven is also challenging for a top-four seed in D-II.
Then, there is that Rutland County triangle that we have come to love featuring West Rutland, Proctor and Mount St. Joseph. Those three teams all have realistic notions of making it to the Final Four in Division IV at Barre Auditorium.
That makes Thursday night’s game in Proctor so special. West Rutland is in town and seating in the matchbox gym will be at a premium.
The Phantoms stunned the Golden Horde in West Rutland and the Horde will have the intensity ratcheted up to a new high this year.
Proctor coach Chris Hughes knows the Phantoms had better match that intensity if they are to have any chance at the season sweep.
Despite the loss to Proctor, West Rutland still occupies the No. 1 spot in Division IV in this week’s Rutland Herald / Times Argus power rankings.
And Rutland and Fair Haven each made a move up.
Here is the latest installment with last week’s rankings in parentheses.
1. CVU 16-0 (1) Deee-fense! In the last nine games, the highest point total against the Redhawks was the 29 put up by Rice on Feb. 4.
2. St. Johnsbury 15-1 (2) If everyone else is playing for second place in Division I, that’s a battle the Hilltoppers could win.
3. BFA-St. Albans 13-3 (3) The Comets made a powerful statement with a convincing win over a good Rice team.
4. Mount Abraham 14-2 (5) The Eagles, the first Division II team in the rankings, are flying high with 13 consecutive victories.
5. Rutland 11-5 (6) Raiders might be hitting their stride. In order to prove they deserve to wrestle a top-four seed from the likes of Rice, they need to reverse that loss to Brattleboro on Saturday.
6. Rice 11-6 (4) Green Knights have lost two of last three.
7. Fair Haven 11-4 (8) The Slaters are coming off a double-digit road win against Division I Burr and Burton Academy.
8. Thetford 15-1 (9) The Division III Panthers have reeled off 15 straight wins. Some of those have a wow factor like the 47-19 road win over Lamoille, a very solid D-II team.
9. Hazen 16-1 (UR) An eight-point loss at Thetford is all that stands between the Division III Wildcats and perfection.
10. Springfield 12-4 (UR) The Cosmos have won the last five and before that fell to Fair Haven by just four.
Our top fives:
Division II: 1. Mount Abraham 2. Fair Haven 3. Springfield 4. Harwood 5. Enosburg
Division III: 1. Thetford 2. Hazen 3. Windsor 4. Green Mountain 5. BFA-Fairfax
Division IV: 1. West Rutland 2. Proctor 3. Blue Mountain 4. Mount St. Joseph 5. Danville