BRATTLEBORO -- The Patriots prevailed in overtime in early February.
It was Paul Freed’s NFL dream back around wild-card weekend, but not exactly the way the Brattleboro girls basketball coach wanted Tuesday night’s game to go.
The rival Mount Anthony Union Patriots made 9 of their 12 free throws in OT to defeat the host Colonels, 68-61.
Freed could only shake his head in disbelief each time the visitors made a 3 -- they did it 10 times on the night and held a 13-point lead early in the third quarter.
"We could have folded at that point," said the BUHS coach. "I couldn’t be more proud of the way we clawed and scrapped our way back into it against the No. 3 team in the state."
Brattleboro’s 32-19 run that tied the score at 54-54 with 2:35 left in regulation started with a trifecta by Kayla Savage and ended with a Savage layup.
The excited BUHS student section encouraged the rally with chants of "de-fense" and "let’s go Colonels!"
After Keira Goodell’s putback gave MAU a 56-54 advantage, Brattleboro center Ari Harrison was forced to exit the game and trade her bloodied 21 jersey for No. 23.
And she would look a lot like Michael Jordan with 3 seconds left, when she kissed home a runner that sent the home fans into a frenzy and sent the game into overtime. There were just two field goals made in the extra period, including a scoop shot by Brattleboro’s Abbie Lesure and a triple from MAU’s Kate Goodell.
The Colonels, who also got a free throw from Harrison and two more from Savage, trailed 62-61 with 1:30 remaining. But the Patriots went 6 of 8 from the line the rest of the way to pull away.
Harrison (21 points, 13 rebounds) and Savage (18 points, 10 rebounds) had monster games for the purple and white. Lesure chipped in with 11 points.
"Wow! Ari and Kayla each had a double-double in their final regular season game at home. A great job by both," stated Freed. "A huge kudos to the fans. It was a great environment to play in."
Harrison often used a baseball pass to burn MAU’s full-court man press early on. She also had a rejection and eight points in the first half, including a pretty hook shot and a runner.
"Ari’s leadership has been tremendous. She is positive and encouraging. Her game speaks for itself," noted Freed. "She has taken it to another level over the last five games, averaging about 14 points and 12 rebounds."
It was MAU makes from downtown that had Freed frustrated and the visitors in front. Maddy Main and Morgan Hewitt each drained a couple of shots from beyond the arc in the first 16 minutes, helping the Patriots take a 33-22 lead to the break.
A layup by Brinkley Legacy put the visitors up by 13 early in the third quarter. And then the comeback began.
Savage drilled a 3 from the right corner to start a surge that included 10 other BUHS buckets: Maddy Derosia scored in transition, Harrison had a putback and a mid-range jumper, Derosia finished in traffic, Taylor Bird had a follow, Lesure attacked the rim, Harrison added a bunny and later completed a three-point play, Lesure buried a 3 from the top, and Savage scored inside to deadlock it at 54-54 with 2:34 remaining.
Shane Covey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.