BRATTLEBORO -- The school buses took children home as usual on Friday afternoon, but a few fifth and sixth graders were still learning in the evening.

You know, how to box out, how to run the break, and how to play team defense.

The Brattleboro boys varsity basketball team put on a clinic, with a couple of Sr. Pro squads and many other fans in attendance, and outscored visiting Essex 58-40.

After Tim Johnson sang the national anthem, the Colonels started taking high-percentage shots -- including six layups -- and opened up a 23-13 lead in the first quarter.

Center Chris McAuliffe had 10 of those 23, thanks to three bunnies and 4-for-4 shooting from the line. The senior was also in on a couple of Brattleboro’s highlight plays: 1)Sam Siegel stole the ball and passed ahead to Conner Elliott-Knaggs who found McAuliffe inside for the finish, and 2)Siegel later yanked down a defensive rebound and threw an outlet pass to McAuliffe who fed Bobby Righi in close for an easy bucket.

Righi also had a layup and drilled a 15-footer, while super sub Tanner Freeman splashed a trifecta, as the WTSA tandem of Bill Holiday and Charlie McLoughlin called the action.

Brattleboro’s in-your-face man defense set the tone in the second quarter, holding the Hornets scoreless for the first 3:24 of the period. Kyle Patno took a charge, McAuliffe ran out at Eli DiGrande to force an air ball, and the Colonels got steals from Freeman, Siegel and Elliott-Knaggs.

The 9-0 run that put the purple and white ahead 32-13 included a couple of makes inside by McAuliffe and five points from Isaac Roach -- a strong take, a mid-range jumper and a free throw.

DiGrande completed a three-point play and Brad Snow delivered from downtown before Essex went to the break trailing 43-19.

That’s when the players from the two Sr. Pro teams -- Hotel Pharmacy and Newton Business -- took what they had learned from the varsity players to the court for the halftime special. The league’s two other squads, Auto Mall and Dead River, are expected to play in the future.

Each team scored 11 points in the third quarter, with Siegel’s hoop in transition and another trey from Snow wowing the crowd. Righi had the best defensive play in the quarter, when he rejected a shot by Joe Galati of Essex.

Brattleboro’s Kevin Tao, Lynden Bunker, Freeman, Roach and Elliott-Knaggs played a little Hot Potato to begin the fourth quarter, milking 60 seconds off the clock. After Elliott-Knaggs followed his own miss, the Hornets went on a 9-0 run to get within 56-39 late in the contest.

McAuliffe had a game-high 18 points to pace the 5-3 Colonels. Roach and Righi added 11 and 10 points respectively.

Brattleboro will play at Rutland on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Shane Covey can be reached at scovey@reformer.com or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.