Assistant Sports Editor
MANCHESTER -- First, Devin Brown hit Hannah Nicholson in stride, streaking down the center of the lane, for a fastbreak layup and a two-point game. Seconds later, Brown stole the ball back, giving Burr and Burton Academy a chance to draw level for the first time.
With four minutes to go, it looked nothing like a game in which the Bulldogs once trailed Mount Anthony Union High School by as many as 14.
"They're scrappy and they fight, and teams like that will take leads away because that's what happens when you work that hard," said MAU coach Courtney Reif.
BBA made it that far, a basket away, but that was where the Patriots drew the line. Mount Anthony countered the dogged charge with a 15-4 surge to the final whistle to earn a 55-44 win in girls basketball on Tuesday night at E.H. Henry Gym.
Paced by Brinkley Legacy's 11 points and nine rebounds, four players hit double figures for Mount Anthony (5-9), which registered its first win against a Vermont Division I team this season.
With six games left, the Patriots, after a rash of injuries, are a win away from clinching a playoff berth.
"This is the second game all season I've had my whole team," Reif said. "This is the first time I've had the starting five I had during the summer scrimmages. It's promising."
BBA (7-7) was forced to fight back early, after 10 turnovers in the game's first seven minutes gave the Patriots a leg up on a 14-0 run to start the night.
"We got off to slow start and that's what does us in -- we're playing catch-up the whole game," BBA coach Terry Merrow said. "It was the same thing against Fair Haven [last week] and it was the same thing tonight."
Senior guard Rory Halligan kept the Bulldogs afloat in the first half, tallying all of her 11 points as BBA trimmed the margin to 30-22 at the break.
Her backcourt mate Brown finished with a game-high 13 points and five steals in the rally.
"Devin and Rory, they set the tone for us. They come out and when they play hard other kids feed off it," Merrow said.
But after Nicholson (six points, 13 rebounds, four blocks) made it a one-shot game, 42-40, with 4:30 to play, the Patriots' defense held the Bulldogs scoreless until the final minute.
Legacy knocked down back-to-back short jumpers and Nikki Harrington followed with an 18-footer and a putback to push the lead to 10 with 1:15 remaining, all the cushion needed to survive.
"The goal was to get a stop, get a score. Get a stop, get a score," Reif said. "We really worked hard on defense at the end and got stops when we needed to get stops."
Makayla Farrara, Lacy Parmenter and Morgan Hewitt each scored 10 points for Mount Anthony, which hosts the Bulldogs in a rematch on Feb. 21.