CHESTER — It was a pretty happy bus ride home for the Mount St. Joseph boys and girls basketball teams from the opening round of the Green Mountain Varsity Boys & Girls Holiday Tournament on Tuesday.
Both teams advanced to their championship games. The girls did it by demolishing an inexperienced Sharon Academy team, 60-23.
The boys were very impressive in a road win against Milton last time out, but MSJ boys coach Charbonneau wasn’t giving the Mounties as high of a grade this time against Springfield, 67-57
“I was very frustrated with our lack of energy and our lack of intensity,” Charbonneau said.
The Mounties came out breathing fire but then all of that intensity dissipated, allowing the Cosmos to get back in the game.
When Maddox Traynor connected on back-to-back 3-point field goals early in the third quarter, it jacked the lead up to 23 points, 42-19.
But the Cosmos never quit and kept chipping away. Late in the game, they even had faint hopes of coming all the way back.
The MSJ girls team was in a completely different situation. Whereas the boys were coming off a win over a Milton team that many consider to be a Division II Final Four team, the girls were humbled at home Saturday in a one-sided loss to Bellows Falls in which they scored just 14 points.
But they didn’t wallow in pity. Instead, they had a great practice and Tuesday they put Sharon Academy away early, leading 26-8 at halftime.
Sharon is a green team owing only to playing at the JV level last season and the Mounties went full throttle against the Phoenix.
“Some of the alumni home on Christmas break helped us with our communication and with getting back on defense. It was very helpful coming into this tournament,” MSJ senior Sophie Markowski said.
Markowski said bringing home the trophy on Thursday is important to the Mounties. They will play Green Mountain at 6 p.m.
“We want to get to Barre (the Division IV Final Four) and that would be a first step toward that,” Markowski said.
MSJ 60, Sharon 23
Markowski knocked a shot down from the outside to put the Mounties in front 4-2 and they never looked back. They scored the next nine points with a 3-pointer from freshman Tiana Gallipo in the middle of that run.
It just got easier from there as MSJ coach G.J. Garrow played his reserves and had his stars log plenty of minutes on the bench.
Freshman Megan Cole had 13 points off the bench and made three 3-pointers in doing it. Selena Wilber also came off the bench to score 12 points and Markowski added another 12. Gallipo had two treys on the way to an eight-point game.
Makenzi Edwards had eight points and Lydia Eastman seven to lead the Phoenix.
Those kids (the reserves) got a little boost by playing,” Garrow said.
Garrow knows the Phoenix is not a good team, still retreading themselves after not having a varsity squad last season.
Still, the win was good for the Mounties’ psyche after the bad loss.
“We needed to get the feeling back,” Garrow said.
MSJ 67, Springfield 57
If you are Charbonneau, you have a right to be irritated by a second-half letdown.
But if you are Springfield coach Michael Ruppel, you can hang your hat on the fact the Cosmos did not quit, turned up the intensity and made a big dent in that mammoth Mountie lead.
The early segment of the game was entertaining. Greg Otis drilled a 3-pointer to give the Cosmos a 7-6 lead.
But then the Mounties separated themselves from the Cosmos. They scored the next 10 points to take a 16-7 lead.
The beginning of that run was fueled by the defense feeding the offense as they piled up points off turnovers.
The Mounties had a 24-10 lead by the end of the opening quarter and led 36-16 at the half.
Then when Traynor nailed his consecutive 3s after the break, the Cosmos looked like they were done.
MSJ still led by 20 heading into the fourth quarter, but then the Cosmos showed their mettle.
Dylan Merrow nailed a 3 to pare the margin to 60-43. The Cosmos then made good at the line to cut it to 62-50.
MSJ’s Logan Starling then connected on a big 3 to push the lead back to 15 with under two minutes to play. The Cosmos simply did not have time to threaten after that but they never stopped trying.
Traynor was honed in from long distance, dropping in four 3-pointers on the way to a game-high 21 points. Starling and Logan Montilla added 11 each for the Mounties and Andre Prunty and Leo Carranza added seven apiece.
Leading the Cosmos was Damian Warner with 11 points. Brenden Dwinell and Noah Zierfus each contributed 10 and Otis had nine.
Charbonneau felt that one player who did maintain the intensity was freshman Prunty.
“He really showed something for a freshman,” Charbonneau said.
The Mounties’ freshman post player’s performance did not go unnoticed either. Jake Williams showed toughness inside with his 6-foot-3 frame, getting multiple offensive rebounds on a couple of possessions.
“Jake crashes the boards. He gets after it,” Charbonneau said.
Maddox, in addition to his long range shooting, had some highlight-reel assists.
All of that was well and good and so was the victory. But what Charbonneau would love to see in Thursday’s title game is intensity for all 32 minutes.