Bulldogs second in D-II
BENNINGTON -- The Burr and Burton Academy boys basketball team ended the season with an 18-2 record and carrying a 10-game winning streak into the postseason.
But for coach Dave Shehadi, what happens now is most important.
BBA earned the No. 2 seed in the Division II tournament, the highest seed of the Banner’s local teams. The Bulldogs will take on No. 15 seed Mount Abraham on Wednesday night, who come into the postseason at 3-17.
"I’m pleased. The kids have worked very hard," Shehadi said. "We have a lot of good senior leadership and have gotten good play from younger guys."
Burr and Burton is led by senior captains Jake Stalcup, Weston Muench and David Shehadi. Stalcup leads the team statisically with 12 points and nine rebounds per game. He also has more than half the team’s blocks, while Muench has averaged 10.8 points and two assists per contest.
"With Jake, we’re getting so much productivity from the center position," Shehadi said. "And Weston is our most consistent player, steady all year. His leadership is evident."
Dave Shehadi’s sons, David and sophomore Joey, have been the most profilic assist men on the squad, each averaging more than three per game.
Last year, BBA was the No. 6 seed, losing to Mount St. Joseph in the semifinals in Barre. The last time the Bulldogs were at least a 2-seed, they won the Division II crown in 2006 and finished 23-1.
"We would love the opportunity to play Vergennes," Shehadi said, referencing the undefeated top-seeded Commodores. "To go through the [Marble Valley League] undefeated, the kids are road tested and we’ve been in tight games."
In Division IV, Arlington joins BBA in hosting a playoff game. The No. 7-seed Eagles won eight of their final 11 games to finish the year 12-8 and face No. 10 Chelsea (11-9) on Wednesday night.
"Two of our goals this season were to host a playoff game and have a winning season," said first-year Arlington coach Chris Taft. "Now we’re resetting the goals. It’s going to be great playing in front of the home fans."
Arlington is led by junior DJ Jennings and senior Alex Hawley. Jennings has averaged nearly 16 points per game, while Hawley averages 11.5 per contest. Senior Olden Dwyer averages 9.5 points per game and has double figures in five of his last seven games.
"Getting them to the playoffs as a first-year coach is amazing," Taft said. "It’s nice to peak at the right time."
Last season, the Eagles were the 7-seed. They won in the first round before falling in the quarterfinals.
"We’re playing more as a team and guys have more defined roles," Taft said. "It should be a good matchup."
In Division I, Mount Anthony Union High School snuck into the playoffs, earning their spot two games ago with their sixth win of the season. The Patriots, at 6-14, are the No. 13 seed and travel to No. 4 Middlebury (15-5) to face the Tigers on Wednesday.
MAU coach Dan Sleeman said his team relishes playing the spoiler role.
"We’re looking to go up there and have some fun, settle down and run some of our offensive stuff," Sleeman said. "The last two years have been different territory for us, the pressure is not on us."
The Patriots are led offensively by senior Aaryngston Bibens, averaging nearly 20 points per game this season. But for MAU to pull the upset, Sleeman said other guys need to step up.
"We’ll need Aary and two, three, four to step in and get scoring," Sleeman said.
Some of the options include junior Sean Brundage, who has come back for the last six games of the year after an injury, and James Levin, a shooter who can put up good numbers from beyond the three-point line.
"Sean has made a big difference for us since he’s returned and I feel like James is due to go off for us," Sleeman said. "We have to try and take advantage of open looks and just hit some shots."
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