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<B>Southern Vermont College freshman Rayshawn Taylor (pictured) was honored as the New England Collegiate Conference Rookie of the Week on Monday. (Geoff Smith)</B>
Southern Vermont College freshman Rayshawn Taylor (pictured) was honored as the New England Collegiate Conference Rookie of the Week on Monday. (Geoff
Southern Vermont College freshman Rayshawn Taylor (pictured) was honored as the New England Collegiate Conference Rookie of the Week on Monday. (Geoff Smith)

GEOFF SMITH

Assistant Sports Editor

BENNINGTON -- The Southern Vermont College men's basketball team is off to its best start in recent memory, with the Mountaineers holding a 6-1 record entering the week. The team celebrated another victory on Monday as freshman guard Rayshawn Taylor was named the New England Collegiate Conference Rookie of the Week.

Taylor played an instrumental role in the team's takedown of RPI in the Tri-State Shootout Championship game on Saturday, scoring 21 points while adding four rebounds, four assists, and four steals, and for the week Taylor averaged 20 points while shooting 62.5 percent from the field. He also averaged three assists, two steals, and just over three rebounds a game last week.

"Rayshawn is one of our most talented players," coach Dan Engelstad said. "He is an offensive weapon for us, and he comes in the game and gives us a spark. He lit it up versus Elms and RPI, and he did a good job of working within the offense and not forcing anything."

Besides RPI, Southern Vermont also dispatched St. Joseph's in the first game of the Tri-State Shootout, a 74-64 win, and NECC foe Elms 85-79.

"It was a good week," Engelstad said. "I was really happy with the guys and how they responded from the Elms game. We didn't have the most energy, it wasn't ‘wreckage' as we like to call it. Going into this weekend, we got back into what was seccessful for us."

But with the Tri-State Shootout trophy now at the Mountaineer Athletic Center, the team turns its attention to the one game it has this week: A road trip to Union College for a Thursday night showdown.

"Union has bee a really good team the last few years," Engelstad said. "I know their record (2-4) says they are struggling a bit, but they have some good players. It would be a great way for us to finish out the non-league play around this area."

Union heads into the contest averaging 77.7 points per game, just under 10 points less than SVC has averaged (86.9). Union is led by guard Terell Winney, who is averaging 21 points coming into Thursday's game.

SVC WOMEN

The Southern Vermont women's basketball team was thrown right into the heart of NECC play last week, but the Mountaineers were unable to walk away with a W.

The team fell to Elms (62-44), Daniel Webster (74-61) and Regis (73-41), giving the Mountaineers a 1-7 record heading into this week.

Coach Mike Quinn said after Saturday's loss that he was happy with how the team came out to start the game, but the Mountaineers were unable to sustain the energy over the 40 minutes of play.

SVC will play one game this week before heading into the winter break, with a home game against Morrisville State schedule for Friday. SVC will be off after the game until Jan. 4, when the team travels to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to kick off 2014.

Sophomore Amber Flagg continues to lead the Mountaineers in most statistical categories. Flagg is averaging 15 points, three assists, and .5 assists per game over the start of the year. Fellow Sophomore Sarah McDonald is averaging 11 points and just under six rebounds a game. Another sophomore, Javasha White, leads the team in rebounding, averaging 7.8 rebounds per contest.