POULTNEY — The Poultney girls basketball team was in trouble, trailing Long Trail 27-24 early in the fourth quarter in a game where points were hard to come by. Grace Hayes and Emily Handley rescued the Blue Devils with long-distance shooting and Poultney left Capman Court with a 35-28 victory.
The Mountain Lions were looking good when freshman Camellia Marcy scored on a putback and their clever guard Charleigh Tifft rang up another hoop to put them in front 27-24.
Then came the H-bomb: Handley and Hayes.
Hayes knocked down a long 3-pointer with five minutes remaining to tie it and then Handley drilled another trey to put the Blue Devils in front for good.
“It felt good (when it left her hand),” Hayes said.
Handley had four 3s for her 12 points.
That wasn’t surprising to Hayes who sees the sophomore’s accuracy in practice.
“She is a very good shooter, one of the best,” Hayes said.
The Blue Devils (2-0) had not played a game or had a practice in a long time due to quarantining.
Yet, they came out strong, whisking to an 8-0 lead. Freshman Kaitlin DeBonis ignited the run by scoring the first six points of the game.
“I think when we got that early lead that we relaxed a little bit,” Poultney coach Todd Hayes said.
The Mountain Lions fought back and when Molly Luikart dropped in a free throw, it gave them their first lead of the night, 12-11.
The game was close the rest of the way. Molly Sanderson connected on a 3-point field goal to send the Mountain Lions into the fourth quarter with a 23-22 lead.
But once Hayes and Handley connected with the successive 3s, the Devils separated themselves from LTS.
Tifft’s free throw brought Long Trail to within 30-28 but then Hayes scored in the paint and Handley had one more 3 in her, extending the lead to 35-28.
“It feels very good,” Grace Hayes said of being 2-0.
The Devils have struggled during her previous four seasons (she started as an eighth grader) and now winning games is extra sweet.
Handley’s 12 points led the Blue Devils and Hayes followed with nine. DeBonis added eight.
Tifft led the Lions with nine points. The Blue Devils were playing without starter Hannah Welch who was home sick.
“It was close but I knew it would be,” coach Hayes said. “We haven’t been able to practice at all.”
Long Trail coach Sean Dillon was elated with the effort he got from his players.
“You can see the potential we have,” Dillon said.
That potential comes wrapped in a package of 10 freshmen. “They made some 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that hurt us and we had some turnovers that hurt us,” Dillon said.
The Mountain Lions will tangle with Mill River on the road on Friday, a game where both teams will be gunning for that first victory.
The Blue Devils have a tough test on Friday at Proctor.