The first two meetings between the Mount Mansfield Union and Rice Memorial boys basketball teams probably left fans hoping there's a third.
After suffering a 13-point setback to Mount Mansfield on opening night, Rice strung together nine consecutive victories and won each of those nine games by at least 10 points. Rice then stretched that winning streak to 10 games by handing Mount Mansfield its first loss, 53-51, last Thursday.
“The game could have gone either way,” Rice coach Paul Pecor told Vermont Scoreboard. “They hit big shots and we hit some big shots. I would love to play that one again – very exciting.”
Rice trailed 51-50 with five seconds to play, but junior guard Casey Tipson made two free throws to give Rice the lead for good. Jake Maynard stole the ensuing inbounds pass and was fouled. He made one of two free throws to cap the scoring.
Tipson finished the game with 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half. He made each of his 3-point attempts. Jake Maynard also scored 16 points,and Tim Rensch added 14 points and 14 rebounds.
The loss dropped Mount Mansfield's record to 11-1. The Cougars beat the Green Knights 45-32 in the previous game between the teams this season.
Rice, last year's Division I champion, improved its record to 10-1.
Rice led 24-17 at halftime, but a 10-0 run handed Mount Mansfield a 33-30 lead – its first lead of the game – in the third quarter.
Rice led by five with 1:58 left, but Mount Mansfield used a 6-0 run to regain the lead. Tom Lacey's 3-pointer capped the 6-0 spurt and made it a 51-50 game.
Tipson's free throws followed, and then Maynard sealed the victory.
Lacey led all scorers with 19 points. He also grabbed six rebounds. Mount Mansfield received a 14-point performance from Eric Suder.
If the teams meet again it will be in the Division I tournament at the University of Vermont's Patrick Gymnasium.
“Even after we beat them earlier I still felt Rice would be the team to beat,” Mount Mansfield coach Jeff Davis said. “Rice is a much better team [now] than the first time we played them. We held serve in our gym and they held serve in theirs. Maybe we'll play Round 3.”
PLUNKETT NAMED TOP RUNNER
South Burlington’s Malcolm Plunkett has been named Vermont’s Gatorade boys cross country runner of the year.
Plunkett, a junior, prevailed at the Manchester (N.H.) Invitational, the Metro league championships and the Vermont Division I state championships during his first cross country season at South Burlington. He transferred from Mount Abraham after the 2010 fall season.
“I’m extremely proud of his accomplishments and looking forward to seeing many more good things in the future,” South Burlington coach Geoff Bennett said.
The Gatorade player-of-the-year awards recognize athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character.
Plunkett has a 3.93 grade-point average and volunteers to assist youth track programs. He also participated in a service-mission trip to Ghana.
CVU EXTENDS STREAK
The Champlain Valley Union girls' basketball team raised its record to 9-0 and remained the only unbeaten team in Division I by beating Burlington, 52-33.
Remi Donnelly led CVU with 10 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. The Redhawks also received 13 points from Kaelyn Kohlasch and 11 from Elana Bayer-Pacht.
ESSEX DOMINATING WITH DEFENSE
The Essex boys' hockey team improved its record to 11-0-1 by beating Stowe, 3-2, Saturday.
The victory stretched the program's regular-season unbeaten streak to 26 games (24-0-2). Essex hasn't lost a regular-season game since Jan. 5 of last year.
The Hornets have not allowed more than three goals in any of their 12 games this season.
STAYING ON TRACK
The indoor track and field state championships will be held Feb. 4 at Norwich University. South Burlington won last year's boys and girls titles.
Roger Brown has covered high school sports in New England since 1992. He publishes the New Hampshire Football Report and covers high school and college football in the Northeast for ESPN/Scouts Inc.