BRATTLEBORO -- The Mount Anthony Union boys basketball team used full-court pressure and mass substitutions on Friday night at a packed BUHS in hopes of wearing out their rivals.
But the fan-fueled Colonels looked fresh during all 12 rounds and earned a 77-64 decision over the visiting Patriots.
"It’s always fun when MAU comes to town. It’s always fun to play for this crowd and this school and this community," said Brattleboro’s Sam Siegel, who looked something like Rocky Balboa on the court.
The senior guard dove after an errant pass, chased down a loose ball, and continually broke the press with his dribble.
"We knew what was coming, so we practiced against the press," added Siegel. "I like playing up-tempo and a half-court game. You have to take what the defense gives you."
In a game between the 8-4 Patriots and 7-5 Colonels, everyone in attendance had to be surprised that the purple and white were ahead 30-10 with 3:30 left before the break.
The student sections started yelling across the gym at each other, beginning with a Hail Brattleboro cheer.
"We can’t hear you," responded the boys in blue.
"M-A-who?" asked the Colonel Crazies, sarcastically.
The Patriots buried six trifectas during a rally that allowed them to pull even at 56-56 with 4:08 remaining in the contest.
But with their student section and fans behind them and the Vernon Tornados jump ropers looking on, the hosts finished with a 21-8 run.
Center Chris McAuliffe had five points during the late surge, including a pretty layup that turned into a three-point play. Isaac Roach attacked along the left side and dished off to a posting McAuliffe, who passed back to Roach, who then went back in to the big man for the hoop and harm.
McAuliffe (18 points), Siegel (16) and Roach (13) were the leading scorers for the 8-5 Colonels. Hao Guo and Sean Brundage paced 8-5 MAU with 16 and 11 points respectively.
After Tim Johnson sang the national anthem, Brattleboro opened up a quick 8-0 lead. McAuliffe assisted on layups by Siegel and Conner Elliott-Knaggs, and then scored inside himself before Roach went 2 for 2 from the charity stripe.
Playing man-to-man defense, the hosts got steals from Siegel, Kyle Patno and Bobby Righi, a block by Lynden Bunker, and lockdown D from Elliott-Knaggs as they opened up a 20-point lead.
Siegel had the home crowd going crazy. He burned the MAU press with consecutive layups, kissed one home high off the glass on a runner, and later blew by Justin Burgess for a chip shot.
The hosts also used a give-and-go from McAuliffe and Roach, and a huge 3 from super sub Kassidi Ramirez as they pulled away.
MAU got makes from downtown by Guo and Brundage as they stormed back to within 46-43 late in the third quarter. But Siegel answered with a four-point play that brought the noise.
However, Tyler Champagne connected twice from beyond the arc and Guo also made a 3, helping the visitors pull even at 56-56 with 4:08 to go.
Siegel gestured to his teammates to settle down. They did, and then they went on a 21-8 run down the stretch as the BUHS students began the "we-believe-that-we-will-win" chant.
Shane Covey can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.