BRATTLEBORO >> In what Paul Freed referred to as the most foul-filled game of his coaching career, his Brattleboro Union High School varsity girls basketball team was money at the charity stripe when it mattered the most.
The Colonels made eight out of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter and held on for a 48-36 victory over Springfield in Wednesday's season opener.
"The refs were calling the game as tight as I've ever seen it before," said Freed. "We had to go deep into our bench because of it."
After trailing by 10 points at the break, the visiting Cosmos fought back to within two (36-34) with five minutes remaining in the game.
But Brattleboro's full-court pressure held Springfield without a field goal the rest of the way. Kelsea McAuliffe, Morgan Derosia and Megyn Ayotte combined for six made free throws late in the game, while Derosia and Ayotte each hit a back-breaking 3 as well.
"I'm pleased with the way we regrouped, scrapped and got the win. We played enough decent defense down the stretch to get the win," noted Freed.
Devin Millerick scored a game-high 13 points to lead the purple and white. Derosia netted nine points and Ayotte finished with seven.
"Devin is our heart. I told her before the fourth quarter to lead us and take us home. I told her that I trust her," stated the BUHS coach.
When the dust settled, Freed felt sorry that the fans didn't get to see a monster game from Hailey Derosia. Still, the freshman did just fine in her varsity debut.
She hauled down four defensive rebounds in the first quarter and then pushed the ball up the court each time. In one instance, the talented rookie dished off to Millerick for an easy layup.
But a bunny by Kai Boyd and a 3-point play from Meghan Sargent were the only other first-quarter field goals for the Colonels, who trailed 11-9 after eight minutes of play.
With members of the student section chanting "De-fense" and then clapping several times, the purple and white used a 9-0 run in the second frame to go ahead 22-15. Millerick had a couple of layups during the rally, while Gabrielle Carpenter, Ayotte and McAuliffe combined for five makes from the line.
"The student section gave us a lot of inspiration," said Freed of the BUHS backers wearing black and cheering in one corner of the gym.
Down by 10 points at the intermission, the Cosmos got five third-quarter points from Elizabeth Mackenzie — a layup off of a steal and then a trifecta — to claw back to within 34-28.
The whistles continued to be blown in the fourth quarter, with Springfield cashing in four times to cut Brattleboro's lead to 36-34 with five minutes remaining. The Cosmos seemed to believe up until Morgan Derosia delivered the dagger — an open trey from the left wing — with 2:45 showing on the clock.
Mackenzie paced the visitors with nine points. Diamond Bruso added a crazy eight and Hannah Crosby pitched in with six of her own.
The 1-0 Colonels will play at South Burlington on Saturday.
Brattleboro roster: Coaches — Paul Freed, Meghan Pacheco. Manager — Gigi Purcell. Seniors — Alexandra Livanis, Meghan Sargent, Jaida Henry, Morgan Derosia. Juniors — Devin Millerick, Shenise Taliaferro, Danielle Wood, Kelsea McAuliffe, Gabrielle Carpenter. Sophomores — Kai Boyd, Megyn Ayotte. Freshman — Hailey Derosia.