Patriots rally to advance to the final four
BENNINGTON >> Talk about comebacks. Last night's Mount Anthony Union High School boys basketball comeback victory over Champlain Valley to advance to the semifinals, was one of the best come from behind victories you would see.
Down 47-40 with seven minutes to play in the game, the No.4 seeded Patriots rallied to outscore No.5 seed CVU 29-22 down the stretch to earn a 69-62 victory and spot in the Division I final four.
"This was an unbelievable win for us," said MAU coach Dan Sleeman. "I am so proud of my players. They didn't give up and I am happy that we're all going to the final four."
The Patriots comeback began through senior Damon Burgess.
The tough nosed Patriots guard showed no quit, driving down the court to knock down a couple shots to help lower the Patriots' deficit to 3.
Then after MAU got a huge defensive stand, Burgess again came through, knocking down a three from the left wing to tie the game up 51-51.
"I looked up at the clock and saw that we were down and knew that I needed to do something to get the team back in the game." Burgess said. "It was now or never and I am happy I was able to come through for my teammates."
That was just the start for an epic fourth quarter by Burgess.
On the next MAU possession, Burgess this time drove the lay up and passed the ball off to Jonas Parker, who slammed it home to give the Patriots their first lead since the second quarter.
As the Patriots continued to get stops, Burgess continued to stay hot from the field.
The senior drove down the court, stopped on a dime and nailed two huge jump shots in a row and all of a sudden MAU had a 58-53 lead with 1:55 to go in the game.
"My defender was sagging off me, so it was an easy one, two move and shoot," Burgess said. "They were giving me an opportunity to score and I took advantage of it."
Leading 65-60 with 23 seconds to go, Burgess sealed MAU's ticket to the dance and great night for himself, by knocking down two free throws at the line and helping the Patriots advance to the semifinals.
Burgess finished with a game-high 21 points, 12 of those points coming in the fourth quarter alone. He also knocked down five three-pointers in the contest, four of them coming in the second half.
Making a huge contribution to MAU's win as well was senior Tyler Champagne.
The senior scored 19 points on the night and kept the Patriots in the game by scoring 14 points in the first three quarters of play.
"It feels great to be going to the final four," Champagne said. "All the four years of hard work paid off tonight with this comeback win and I am so happy that our team will get the chance to compete for a state title."
Senior Jonas Parker was also in double figures for MAU after dealing with foul trouble all night, finishing with 12 points in the win.
For CVU, Walker Storey and Adam Hamilton were the main reason the Redhawks were a quarter away from advancing to the semifinals.
Both players scored 19 points on the night, with Storey draining five three-pointers in the game that gave CVU the 47-40 lead early on in the fourth quarter.
The Redhawks overall were on fire from three-point range all night, hitting nine three-pointers in their heartbreaking loss.
With the win MAU improves to 19-3 on the season and advances to the semifinals for the first time since the 2010-2011 season.
"I am happy for my players that they're going to get to experience a final four, but it's now a whole new season for us," Sleeman said. "It's the third season now I always say and now we have a two game playoff in front of us to win a state championship."
MAU will now will face its biggest test in the semifinals when they take on the No.1 seed Burlington.
Their semifinal matchup will be next Saturday up at the University of Vermont. Time of game has yet to be determined.
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