BRATTLEBORO >> The Brattleboro Mallers AAU and Zero Gravity boys basketball team had its winningest season in the past 20 years, going 34-5, capturing a 5th straight Vermont State Championship, claiming eight tournament titles and placing second in their two other tourneys.
The Mallers concluded their season with another championship in Maine's largest tournament and a second place finish in Montreal, Canada.
Brattleboro travelled over Memorial Day Weekend to Montreal and came up just short in the Elite Basketball Tournament with a 62-53 loss to the defending champions, the Montreal Bi Bi team. With international rules in effect, Montreal broke out to a 20-8 lead in the opening quarter, The Mallers cut it to 23-21, but a 6-0 run had Montreal ahead at the half 29-21.
What might have cost the Mallers their ninth championship was having starting forward Tyler Martin leave with a sprained ankle midway through the third period. That left Brattleboro with just five players, having lost center Dylan Grover to a hand injury at the very beginning of the tournament.
Montreal would build two separate double-digit leads in the second half. Brattleboro then made one more gallant attempt to steal a win by cutting a 12-point deficit to 52-49 with 3:47 to go, but just simply ran out of gas.
Tucker Llewelyn was Brattleboro's high scorer with 18 points, followed by Jake Blaisdell's 12 and Calvin Lafland's season-high 11.
The first game for the locals was a hard fought 70-55 win over VKings of Montreal. Ian Fulton-Black threw down 27 points. Four other players scored double digits, with Llewelyn netting 13 and Blasidell 11. LaFland and Martin each chipped in with 10.
Still in pool play, Brattleboro defeated Laval 60-40 and then Team Brockwood of Montreal 77-50 in a semifinal game. Fulton-Black had 28 and Llewelyn 19. Fulton-Black was named the tournament MVP for Brattleboro.
At the New England-Canada Challenge Championship in Portland, Maine, the Mallers started off with a 73-41 victory over the Maine Bombers. Fulton-Black (25 points), Llewelyn (19) and Blaisdell (19) did the damage for the winners.
Brattleboro then suffered its worst loss of the season, falling 67-40 to the Maine Blue Wave. Blaisdell poured in 15 to pace the Mallers in that one.
Llewelyn and Blaisdell scored 17 and 15 points respectively as the Mallers took care of the Halifax Celtics 62-53. And that set up a rematch with the Blue Wave for all the marbles.
Brattleboro trailed 31-26 at the break in the title game, but started the second half with a 14-4 run to go up 40-35. Maine would battle back to take a five-point lead before the Mallers used an impressive 18-3 rally to win 60-50. Blaisdell led all scorers with 24 points.