BRANDON — Otter Valley senior post player Livia Bernhardt rang up 22 points with an assortment of inside power moves but she was quick to deflect credit to her teammates, particularly Alice Keith, in Tuesday night’s 54-31 victory over Middlebury in girls basketball action.
“I definitely couldn’t have done that without Alice. It was because of her I had those points,” Bernhardt said.
The Tigers applied the press and Keith thrived on it, breaking it with some deft ball handling and pinpoint passing.
One play early in the fourth quarter showcased Keith’s skill set better than any other. She maneuvered around a defender with a behind-the-back dribble, kept her head up and after advancing the ball, spotted Bernhardt and threaded a perfect pass enabling Bernhardt to cash in.
“When they continued to press, I think it helped us,” said Otter Valley coach Kelly Trayah. “Alice would get the ball down low for us and Livia continues to get stronger.”
The Division III Otters are 2-3 with both wins coming against the Division II Tigers.
The first win in Middlebury was by a score of 51-25 in the season opener.
Bernhardt said there was no way the Otters were taking the Tigers lightly because of the previous victory.
“We definitely know we can’t take any team for granted,” Bernhardt said. “We have to play every game.”
Middlebury freshman Elle Sellers scored with a mid-range jumper to tie the score at 4-4 but Keefe put the Otters ahead with the next hoop and they led the rest of the way, extending the score to 24-12 by halftime.
The Tigers have a couple of talented freshmen. Sellers had 19 points and nailed three 3-point field goals.
The other ninth grader is Cady Pitner who did not play against the Otters in the first game but was coming off an 18-point performance in Middlebury’s recent win over Randolph.
Middlebury coach Jen Heath believes the program has a bright future with that kind of youth.
“I thought we played hard and did some good things,” Heath said. “We did some good things but didn’t capitalize on them.”
The Tigers take a 2-3 record into Saturday’s game at Vergennes.
The Otters have a tough task with 1,000-point scorer Olivia Rockwood and her Windsor High teammates coming to Brandon on Friday evening.
Julia Eastman and Keith added seven points each for the Otters and Mary Kingsley added five.
After Sellers’ 19, the scoring fell off for the Tigers with Ivy Doran next with six points.
Bernhardt had the last four points of the opening quarter to send the Otters into the second stanza with a 10-4 lead.
When freshman Anna Lee knocked down a 3-pointer it ballooned OV’s lead to 23-10. They were in complete command the rest of the night.
It was the first game back for Otter Valley’s Alia Edmunds after being injured at West Rutland.
“Alia looked good and didn’t have any pain so that was good,” Trayah said.
Trayah had to like the production he got from the bench with nine different Otters scoring. The contributions from the bench included some hard-nosed defense from Mallory Lufkin.