Saturday December 29, 2012

AUSTIN DANFORTH

Assistant Sports Editor

BENNINGTON -- In rhythm and looking destined for the bottom of the net, Aaryngston Bibens saw his choice 3-pointer from the left corner rattle in and out of the hoop with a minute to go.

At that point, the Mount Anthony Union High School senior guard could only grin in frustration. That it happened two more times in the final minute only reaffirmed the frustration.

In need of a break, the Patriots are still waiting for one six games into the season.

Friday night, it was Essex keeping Mount Anthony winless in 2012, taking advantage of its size on the offensive glass and using an early fourth-quarter spurt to top the Patriots, 73-63, in boys basketball at Kates Gym.

Essex improves to 4-0 on the year while MAU falls to 0-6.

"We come down here for a reason -- it's a great place to play, it's a good environment ... you know you're always going to get a good game down here," Essex coach Jeff Goodrich said. "That does not look like an [0-6] team."

Bibens, who led all scorers with 22 points to go along with eight rebounds and five steals, could have made it a 5-point game with the late trey that failed to drop. The Patriots' first win was that close.

"Ugh, in and out," Bibens said with a sigh. "That's a tough loss, especially when we're with them the whole game, we're close, got the shots off and they go in and out. It's tough luck.


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Down four points at halftime, Mount Anthony tied the contest, 40-40, with James Levin's 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.

But Essex fired back with a Luke Salerno (21 points) trey 10 seconds later to take the lead for good.

The Hornets led 47-42 to start the final stanza and opened the quarter on a 5-0 run to push their lead to double digits. All 13 players saw action for Essex, which also got 20 points and 16 rebounds from Tom Carton.

"We can go pretty deep, get a lot of guys off the bench, get a lot of guys involved, and I think that helped us," Goodrich said.

Levin finished with 15 points off the bench for MAU, while Ben Gelheiser added 10 points, going a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.

"I give credit to my guys, things can start to look ugly when you start off the season like we have but I have to honestly say we have continued to make progress," said MAU coach Dan Sleeman. "It's just unfortunate it hasn't shown up in the win column yet."

The trying 2012 portion of their schedule behind them, the Patriots want to take advantage of the new calendar year, which begins with a game against undefeated Burr and Burton Academy on Jan. 2.

"The strength of schedule, I hope, is going to prepare us for this new year that's approaching," Sleeman said. "People use it to get in an exercise routine or eat better or spend less money -- we're going to really take of the New Year's resolution, here.

"We've got to be a dangerous 0-6 team."