Vermont has 75 boys' high school basketball teams, 74 girls' high school basketball teams and, technically speaking, one co-ed high school basketball team.
The Stowe boys basketball team became a co-ed program when senior Hannah McNulty joined the team earlier this month. McNulty, a 5-foot-6 guard, began the season on Stowe’s girls basketball team, but that team was disbanded due to a lack of players.
“We knew in the summer that the girls team was iffy because of numbers,” Stowe boys' basketball coach Evans Bouchard said. “They had enough girls sign up, but there was a point where they had only six or seven healthy players and the parents decided to disband the team for one season.
“Hannah had asked me if I would consider taking her on the (boys) team if the girls team was disbanded. She’s a go-getter. She’s not afraid.”
When her team’s season came to a premature end, McNulty tried to join the girls team at nearby Peoples Academy in Morrisville, but was told Peoples had a full varsity roster and didn’t want to take playing time away from anyone already on the team. At that point, McNulty asked the Vermont Principals’ Association for permission to play for the Stowe boys' team.
The VPA approved her request on Jan. 4, and that night she played 10 minutes in Stowe’s Division III loss to Hazen.
McNulty, who plans to play college basketball at Suffolk University in Boston, had been practicing with the boys' team after the girls' team disbanded, and Bouchard said he had no reservations about adding her to the boys' roster.
“With Hannah I didn’t think it would be a problem,” he said. “Had it been anybody else I would have had some concerns.
“She told me she’d change in the girls bathroom. Then she sits with me until the boys are dressed. Once I make sure everything is OK, we go into the locker room.
“Defensively, she’s probably the most solid player I have. She’s gonna end up helping us. The boys have been very accepting of her. The parents seem to have accepted her as well.”
McNulty played just over a half and scored five points in her second game, a 57-42 victory over Richford. Stowe (1-5) will play at Danville on Friday.
McNulty, who was a goalkeeper for the Stowe girls' soccer team that beat Green Mountain Union for the Division III state championship last fall, is not the only girl who is suiting up for a boys athletic team in Vermont this winter. Nikki-Lyn Lauziere is in her fourth season as a goaltender on the Milton boys' hockey team.
“She’ll probably end up starting some games for us,” Bouchard said. “She’s like one of the boys to me.”
RUTLAND SUFFERS FIRST LOSS
The Rice Memorial boys basketball team overcame a nine-point deficit with 3:10 to play and defeated previously unbeaten Rutland, 61-58, in overtime Monday.
Rice’s Austin Robinson sparked the comeback by sinking back-to-back 3-pointers down the stretch and Marcus Willingham made a three-point play to tie the game with 13 seconds remaining.
Willingham scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help Rice raise its record to 5-1. Mike Triller scored a team-high 17 points for Rutland, which dropped to 8-1.
Ross Mandigo surpassed the 100-point plateau for his high school career when he collected two goals to help the Stowe boys hockey team defeat Peoples Academy 4-0 on Jan. 4. Peoples entered that contest with a 7-0 record.
BFA-St. Albans guard Nick Swim scored the 1,000th point of his high school basketball career when he tossed in a team-high 19 points during a 51-42 triumph over Champlain Valley on Jan. 8. Swim, who entered the game 16 points shy of 1,000, also led his team in steals (10) and rebounds (eight).
BERNARD, BIANCHI EARN TOP HONORS
Colchester’s Lauren Bernard and Essex’s Paul Bianchi have been selected as Vermont’s high school All-Americans by the National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America.
Bianchi, who led Essex to the Division I boys' soccer title last season, will continue his soccer career at the University of New Hampshire. He holds the Essex records for career goals (46) and career points (108). He scored 21 goals last season.
Bernard, a junior, collected 18 goals and 11 assists last season. She has made a verbal commitment to play at Boston College.
Roger Brown has covered high school sports in New England since 1992. He currently covers high school and college football in the Northeast for ESPN/Scouts Inc.