BENNINGTON — The Mount Anthony girls basketball team is hoping for a late season playoff push.
While Vermont allows all teams –regardless of record – to participate in the playoffs, MAU has a self-policing policy that requires teams win at least 25 percent of its games to enter the postseason. In a 20 game basketball season, that sets the Patriots’ magic number at five.
The 2-12 Patriots welcomed a 3-win Woodstock team into Kates Gym Thursday night, a great opportunity to secure a much-needed victory. The Patriots didn’t just win, they did so in a dominant fashion – holding a lead for all but 28 seconds on their way to a 44-32 victory.
MAU started out strong. After Grace McQueeney won the opening tip, Alle George splashed in a 3-pointer from the left wing just on the game’s first possession just 13 seconds into the action. George’s shot provided a signal of how the game would go, as MAU rained in nine 3-pointers on the night. Five different Patriots made at least one 3-ball, led by George’s four.
MAU followed that possession with pressure on the defensive end. Madi Moore was glued to a Woodstock guard on the perimeter, forcing a 5-second violation that gave the ball back to MAU.
Following a Patriots miss on the other end of the floor, Abby Sekora grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled on the put back attempt. The MAU sophomore made both attempts at the line and MAU raced out to a 5-0 lead less than a minute into the game.
“We needed to come out strong,” said MAU coach Daemond Carter. “The last few games, I think we’ve been able to come out pretty decent in the first quarter and continue to grow.”
Woodstock took its lone lead of the contest, 9-8, with 4:18 left in the first quarter on a Georgia Taleton 3-pointer. That’s when MAU showed its growth.
Instead of letting the Wasps build on that momentum and stay competitive, MAU answered immediately. Moore sank a 3-pointer on the following possession to give the Patriots the lead once again. MAU then forced a Woodstock turnover, and this time it was George connecting from range on the left wing.
MAU coupled the make with another defensive stop, and George hit yet another three, her third of the quarter, in the same exact spot as the previous possession just 25 seconds later. That jumper stretched MAU’s lead to 15-8 and served as a turning point in the game.
George’s makes didn’t even graze the rim. There was no doubt they were going in from the second they left her fingertips.
“When it’s on, it’s on, and she knows it,” Carter said. “And she has to continue shooting, through the misses. Us real shooters, we don’t even calculate that stuff. They already know the next one’s going in, so it doesn’t even matter.”
When there were misses, Sekora was there to attack the offensive glass in the first. She came away with four offensive rebounds in the quarter, resulting in three second-chance points as MAU closed the quarter with a 17-10 lead.
Senior Grace Kobelia filled that role in the second quarter, grabbing three offensive rebounds and extending MAU possessions on that end of the floor. The extra chances helped MAU build its lead to double digits, 26-16, by halftime.
Carter said the production throughout the lineup is a product of everyone buying into their role on the team.
“Everybody’s job is different, I ask all of them to do different things,” he said. “When they’re there mentally, everything else falls into place.”
There was no let down in the third quarter, MAU won the quarter 13-6 to build its lead to 17.
Woodstock opened the fourth quarter on a 10-2 run to cut its deficit back down to single digits. George halted the Wasps’ momentum with her fourth and final 3-pointer of the night with 1:37 remaining. The MAU forward finished with a game-high 13 points. Woodstock was led by Norah Harper, who finished with 11.
MAU (3-12) travels to Plainfield Saturday for a 1 p.m. tip against Twinfield/Cabot. A win this weekend would put the Patriots one away from their magic number of five.