BRATTLEBORO >> With 14 seconds remaining and Brattleboro leading by one point, BUHS coach Paul Freed used a timeout to tell his players not to let Kayla Matte beat them.
But the sophomore guard wouldn't be denied.
The Saint Johnsbury varsity girls basketball team milked the clock using dribble handoffs and eventually got the ball to Matte, who sank a 12-foot jumper from the right baseline with 1.5 seconds left to give the Hilltoppers a 43-42 victory over the host Colonels on Tuesday night.
"I told them that anybody could take the last shot, just not No. 2," said Freed. "To her credit, she hit that shot."
The Colonels got steals from Kelsea McAuliffe and Hailey Derosia in the first half, along with rejections by Gabby Carpenter and Kai Boyd. The purple and white's in-your-face defense, had Devin Millerick, Boyd and Derosia hounding the Saint Johnsbury guards.
Both teams were relying on long-range shooting. Morgan Derosia and Millerick each delivered from downtown for the hosts while Neva Bostic and Matte hit trifectas for the green machine.
The score was knotted at 16-16 at the intermission.
"We went into the game wanting to be aggressive offensively and lean on Carp, who is a solid post player," noted Freed. "Defensively, we wanted to be patient and not be out of position."
The Colonels started going inside to their junior center in the third quarter. Carpenter often used her up-and-under move on the low block and had three quick layups in the second half.
It was back and forth at that point, with each team answering the other. A layup by Gunnhildur Atladottir, a putback by Carpenter, a 3 from Atladottir, a Carpenter drive, Sadie Stetson's bunny, a strong move from Carpenter, Matte's trey from the right wing, and then Hailey Derosia kind of stole the show.
Brattleboro's talented freshman made a layup, splashed a trifecta from the left wing and then blocked a shot. But a make from beyond the arc by Stetson and an Emilie Begin free throw gave the visitors a 30-27 advantage with eight minutes left.
"That's a patient team. It's a mental challenge to defend them," Freed told the Reformer, after watching Saint Johnsbury's pass-happy attack.
On the other side, Saint J had no answer for Carpenter. She completed a 3-point play and also made two layups as the Colonels battled back to a 39-39 tie with three minutes showing on the clock.
After Begin's chip shot gave the Hilltoppers a two-point lead, Hailey Derosia knocked down a 3 from the right wing to put the Colonels up 42-41 at the 1:30 mark.
Brattleboro would later pass the ball around in order to drain the clock, but a steal by Jessica Poulin gave the vistors the ball with 40 ticks left. That gave Matte a chance in the final seconds and the sophomore guard got the roll on her 12-foot jumper from the right baseline.
Carpenter (15 points, 10 rebounds), Hailey Derosia (12 points) and Millerick (8 points) paced the 1-2 Colonels, who will play at Burlington on Saturday. Stetson scored a game-high 16 points and Matte added eight points for the winners.