Girls' basketball teams start playoff campaigns
BENNINGTON >> Last week, the Vermont boys basketball playoffs began in earnest.
Tonight, it's the girls' turn.
After seasons of varying success, our local teams — Mount Anthony, Burr and Burton and Arlington — all get their playoffs going with games starting at 7 p.m.
In Division I, a late season 6-2 surge for the Patriots vaulted them into the eighth seed, where they'll host No. 9 Middlebury.
"It's good that we're peaking at this time," said Mount Anthony coach Brian Harrington. "Our defensive pressure has been much better as of late, which is turning into better offensive opportunities for us."
MAU is led in scoring by Madison Little, but she's closely followed by Brianna Legacy and Kathryn Frasier. Teams can't focus on those three, as every player on the Patriots roster can shoot the ball.
"Everybody's getting significant minutes, players like Kaity [O'Brien], Ally [White] and Brenna [Harris] are unsung, but they are doing their job two minutes at a time, that's key for us," Harrington said.
If the shot is falling, MAU can be dangerous, something rival BBA found out first hand with an 104-50 rout a couple of weeks ago.
"We have a luxury that other teams don't have, with three or four players that can do everything for us," Harrington said. "One of the keys the last couple weeks is that we're playing unselfish, distributing the ball. We're doing a lot better job with that."
Middlebury comes in at 11-9 and upset North Country in its final game of the year to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2010. Keagan Dunbar is the leading scorer for the Tigers, who faced MAU in the playoffs in 2012 in a 65-41 loss.
"We don't know each other very well," Harrington said. "I talked to [Fair Haven] coach [Kyle] Wilson, they don't have any big post players, but they have good guards. We have to stay out of foul trouble and we'll have to see if they can withstand the pressure."
The 15th-seeded Burr and Burton Academy girls basketball team is going the other direction and is 2-6 in its past eight games, although they ended the regular season with an upset of Rutland.
They will travel to face No. 2 Rice, a team the Bulldogs faced at E.H. Henry Gym on Jan. 2, a 57-50 loss.
The Bulldogs are led by Hannah Nicholson in the post, while Tessa Roberts, Emily Bleakie and Stephanie Boucher have all been the high scorer for BBA at points this season.
In Division IV, Arlington, playing a tough schedule against the top teams in the division, are the 11th seed at 7-13 and travel to face No. 6 Craftsbury tonight.
"We're playing well on defense, but it's still tough to get it in the hoop," said Arlington coach Larry Andrews. "They have a couple of good guards. We've tried to put a game plan together and let the chips fall where they may."
Before the pairings were released on Monday morning, Arlington was listed in 12th and would have played Whitchester, a team they've lost to twice this season, but after Trinity Baptist dropped out, it moved the Eagles to 11.
"We talked about that today," Andrews said. "Do you want to play the unknown or the known, it's tough to beat a team three times. But in the end, it's six of one, half-dozen of the other."
Andrews said the game plan is the same either way.
"We want to try to keep them in the low 30s and we want to pressure on defense," Andrews said. "If we have a solid outing, we should be in the game."
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