Colonels clinch league title
BRATTLEBORO — On Thursday evening, the Brattleboro Union High School varsity boys basketball team clinched its first league title in over 10 years.
The next mission for the purple and white is ending a 27-year state championship drought.
"It feels great to win the league title. It was well earned and well deserved. The kids worked hard and gutted it out," said BUHS coach Jason Coplan after his team's 64-53 win over rival Mount Anthony Union.
The 12-7 Colonels split with Rutland this season, but swept both BBA and MAU in league play to capture the crown.
"I was concerned with them playing their two bigs (Quintin McIntire and Gavin Johnson) at the same time, but I thought we did a good job of mixing up our defenses. We played two different angles, which is what I like to call it instead of zones, and one tight man defense," noted Coplan.
With the score tied 49-49 at the 5:20 mark, a 3 from the left wing by Greg Fitzgerald gave the hosts the lead for good in front of a packed house.
Charlie Galanes added a trey and a layup, Gabe Packard scored on a drive, and Fitzgerald recorded five more points as the Colonels pulled away late.
"We should have a home playoff game. It's shaping up like we will be in the sixth spot to face either Colchester or Essex," the Brattleboro coach predicted.
It will put the Colonels in position to win its first state title since 1993, when Sjoerd de Jong scored a game-high 16 points for BUHS during a 58-44 win over Rutland. Carl Anderson, who also played for that powerhouse, was on hand to watch his school clinch the league title.
Brattleboro seniors Tyler Millerick, Keegan Givens, and Galanes were all honored prior to the contest.
"They are going to be missed. Keegan can shoot, we will miss Tyler's leadership, and we will miss Charlie's toughness and determination," Coplan stated. "You don't get players like them very often. They show up before practice, they listen and pay attention, and they are great teammates."
Millerick had a couple of steals, Galanes pulled down an offensive rebound, and Givens made a reverse layup before a 6-0 run put the Patriots ahead 14-11 eight minutes in.
"Let's go Colonels!" repeated members of the fired-up student section who were all dressed in black.
The Colonels would battle right back and take a 10-point lead to the intermission. Millerick was in on both of the second-quarter highlights — Packard stole the ball and found the BUHS floor general, who passed to Sam Mattocks for an easy layup, and Fitzgerald later made a save at halfcourt before Millerick went baseline for a pretty reverse.
Johnson took over in the third quarter, powering his way to eight points in the paint. Jordan Gardner and McIntire added makes from downtown, helping MAU get within 43-39 with eight minutes to go.
Austin Grogan and Johnson each connected from deep early in the fourth, pulling the visitors even at 49-49 with 5:20 to go.
"De-fense, de-fense!" was the chant from the BUHS student section before the hosts pulled away.
Fitzgerald paced the winners with 23 points, Packard followed with 13, and Galanes pitched in with 11.
Johnson finished with 22 points to power the Patriots.
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