Saturday December 22, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- On Friday, the world didn’t come to an end, but St. Johnsbury’s 3-point barrage did.

Eventually.

The Hilltoppers buried 10 trifectas, with the last of those coming late in the third quarter, and crushed the Brattleboro boys basketball team 73-31.

"I thought we played well. We got it going up-tempo and got off to a quick start," said winning coach Tom O’Shea, whose team improved to 4-0. "(Tristan) Ross was making shots from everywhere."

Ross scored 23 points in the first half and finished with a game-high 27. He showed off his smooth stroke right after the opening tip, swishing a 15-footer from the baseline. He followed that up with five makes from downtown, a pretty drive, and couple of burials from just inside the arc.

But it wasn’t like the sophomore shooting guard was a one-man show in the early going. Vlad Cobzaru, a tall and athletic center, made a strong move inside and then completed the three-point play. Ultra quick guard Taeshon Best had three layups. And floor general Brendon O’Shea sank a pair of 3’s.

The St. Johnsbury squad, which is a mix of foreigners and natives, had a couple of BUHS fans feeling like it was the Yugoslavian National Team against the Colonels.

"We have four international players on our team," noted coach O’Shea. "Three of them are new."

With the game sped up by the visitors’ 1-3-1 full-court press, the Colonels made a habit of turning the ball over. Even when they got chances to run plays, shots were often changed or rejected by Jacob Grinsburg and Cobzaru.

"It’s not something that we always do," said coach O’Shea of the press. "We kind of pick our spots."

Brattleboro’s Chris McAuliffe and Tyler Higley each scored six points in the first 16 minutes, as the big man had a couple of layups and a half-hook while the QB knocked down two mid-range jumpers and also came through on an inbounds play.

The Colonels went to the break trailing 50-16. But on the bright side, the Mayan calendar was not accurate.

St. Johnsbury opened the third quarter with a 10-2 rally, behind a layup and 3 from Grinsburg. Bob Righi then tried to spark the hosts with some in-your-face defense and a pretty pass, while Higley contributed with a takeaway.

The Hilltoppers extended their lead to 63-18, thanks to O’Shea’s make from deep. That was the team’s 10th trifecta, and the visiting coach decided to call of the dogs.

Brattleboro was held to just four field goals after that. Isaac Roach got a hoop and harm, McAuliffe drained a 15-foot jumper, Kyle Patno scored on a darting move, and Righi delivered in transition.

Ross and Cobzaru finished with 27 and 11 points to pace the winners. McAuliffe scored a team-high eight for Brattleboro, which got six each from Higley and Roach.

The 1-3 Colonels will play at Spaulding on Thursday at 7 p.m. The undefeated Hilltoppers will face Rice next.

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