BRATTLEBORO >> The Brattleboro Mallers 11th grade AAU boys basketball team won the Vermont State Zero Gravity Championship for the fifth straight year.
The Mallers were undermanned as they entered the tournament during vacation week and had two starters out with injuries. The opening game placed the locals against old rivals, the Barre Swish. The Mallers had a very lackluster start offensively. but they played well defensively and the game was tied at 18-18 at the half. Brattleboro found its shooting touch in the second half, scoring 44 points en route to a 62-46 win. Ian Fulton-Black led the way with 13 second–half points of his game-high 19. Tucker Llewelyn and Tyler Martin chipped in with 12 and 10 points respectively.
Fulton-Black had four first-half trifectas as the Mallers stole a 32-29 halftime lead over the Colchester Lakers. Brattleboro would extend its advantage to eight points, but a couple turnovers and some missed foul shots down the stretch gave a Laker player a final running right-hander from the baseline at the buzzer to tie it at 61-61. At the end of the first overtime, with the game tied at 65-all, Brattleboro's Tony Martinez's shot from the corner at the buzzer rattled all around, halfway down and then popped out. In the second overtime, with the locals down by three with four seconds left, a Martin trey was nothing but net. However, a last-second foul and two free throws gave Colchester a 73-71 win over the defending champions.
In Game 3, Brattleboro blitzed the Enosburg Elite 71-42. Fulton-Black drained seven shots from beyond the arc and scored a season-high 27 points to pace the winners. Martin followed with 19 points.
Four teams went 2-1 in pool play, but the Mallers seeded first because of their plus-minus of +34 points and earned a rematch with the Lakers. Calvin Lafland returned from a foot injury and netted four points in the first half to help the Mallers stretch out a 26-13 lead. And Brattleboro continued to dominate in the second half, eventually prevailing 71-42. Blaisdell was the team's top scorer with 14 points, while Troy Felisko and Martinez played solid defense for the Mallers, who also have Brendan Emond and Dylan Grover on their roster.
The champs have a couple more events before travelling to Montreal, Canada for a Memorial Day Weekend tournament hosted by Elite Basketball Association of Canada. If you would like to help with the costs associated with this trip, the players, parents and coach Dave Arakelian thank you in advance. Contributions can be sent to the Brattleboro Mallers, C/O VSECU (Vermont State Employees Credit Union), 499 Canal St. Suite 12, Brattleboro, VT 05301.