Milton grinds out win over Enosburg

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ENOSBURG – Friday’s girls’ basketball matchup between Enosburg and Milton was a back-and-forth contest with both teams giving themselves a chance to win at the end.

Both teams had good runs throughout with seven lead changes through the first three quarters, but in the end it was the Yellowjackets that went on a 5-0 run to end the third and never looked back on their way to a 47-42 win over the Hornets.

“Our gameplan coming in was to set the tempo playing our game out there tonight,” said Milton coach Nicole Colantoni. “We got discombobulated at times and shot ourselves in the foot, but battled back from that. Overall it was our effort and hustle that made the difference tonight.”

Enosburg never went away quietly getting the game to within one score on four different occasions in the fourth quarter, but the Yellowjackets were in the bonus by the end of third quarter and they hit their free throws and clutch shots down the stretch.

Milton ended the fourth quarter going 6-for-10 from the foul line and finished the game 16-of-26.

“We just had too many unforced turnovers out there tonight with the ball slipping through our hands and had four or five open layups that we just missed,” said Enosburg coach Gary Geddes. “In a tight game like this, those mistakes will come back to haunt you. And (Milton) shot their free throws well in big moments.”

Both teams had a balanced scoring attack going all night, as they both had eight players each scoring in the game.

Sophomore Cassidy Button had a game-high 14 points for the Yellowjackets to also go along with six rebounds, as she had a good game in the post getting to the hoop and playing aggressive to get to the free-throw line.

Milton’s Madalyn Leggett was the only other player in the game to put up double-digit points, as she finished with 10 points.

She scored two quick buckets early in the first quarter with back-to-back steals that went in for layups.

With Enosburg putting on a full-court press almost the entire game, the Yellowjackets found an inbound play that couldn’t be stopped, as they would get a player in space downcourt and would inbound the ball over halfcourt for an easy layup.

“(Enosburg) didn’t have a safety down the court and we have a girl that can bound down the court,” said Colantoni. “We figured it kept working, might as well keep doing it until it gets stopped.”

Enosburg played the entire second half without one of its top players, as Bri Serverence hit the floor hard at the end of the first half and never returned.

“Bri is a leader out there for us, so it definitely hurt losing her,” said Geddes. “No one is going to outwork her on the court and she’s another offensive option for us and can handle the ball for us, so that was a big blow for us.”

Both teams played to a tightly contested first quarter with three lead changes, including two big 3-pointers from Enosburg’s Jenyssa Yates to give the Hornets a 13-12 lead.

Enosburg kept rolling into the second quarter going on a 6-0 run to extend the lead to 19-12 before a smart timeout taken by Colantoni seemed to get the Yellowjackets back on track.

After the timeout, Milton ended the half on an 11-3 run with five different players scoring in that span to hold a slim 23-22 lead.

Both teams played strong defense through the first three minutes of the third quarter with a pair of free throws from Enosburg’s Jenna Bessette (six points) and a strong drive from Mariah Archambault (six points) put Enosburg up 26-23.

Enosburg’s foul trouble started to come back to haunt it, as Milton finished the third quarter on a 11-2 run with seven of those points coming on free throws, as it took a 34-28 lead into the fourth.

The Hornets never quit, as Kalie Chamberlain scored all of her team-high eight points in the fourth quarter.

Midway through the final quarter, Chamberlain hit a big 3 to reduce the deficit to 39-37. Madison Chalmbers (eight points, seven rebounds, six assists) hit a pair of free-throws to make it a four-point game.

From there, the Yellowjackets made their free throws down the stretch and Megan Reilly (six points) hit a big jump shot to give the team a two-score lead late, as Enosburg couldn’t find the big shot it needed.

“We saw some good spurts out there tonight,” said Geddes. “We just couldn’t find any consistency, which is something you need to come out with wins in close games like tonight.”

It was a tough game for the Hornets, who couldn’t get their shots to drop throughout the night, as they fell to 0-2 to start the season facing a pair of quality opponents in Lamoille and Milton.

They will look to regroup with a long layoff before their next game at Lamoille on Jan. 4.

“We’re still trying to figure some things out with this team and working with different rotations,” said Geddes. “It’s only our second game with some new players on the team, so still working on things. Hopefully we can work on some things before our next game. We’re going back to square one and get back to working on the fundamentals. We haven’t had a lot of time to practice before these two games, so this break will be nice to get back to practice and figure things out.”

Friday was a good test for the Yellowjackets after they blew through Montpelier in their regular-season opener.

They will take their 2-0 record when they face off against BFA-Fairfax at home on Tuesday.

“What was nice about tonight is we stayed composed even when things weren’t going our way,” said Colantoni. “That was one of our goals coming into the year was to keep that composure, so I was really pleased we did that tonight. If we didn’t keep that composure like we did tonight, we wouldn’t have come out with the win tonight.

“I think the team can take a lot of confidence out of this win tonight. It was nice to have a tight game and come out on top. This is a really nice team-building game because it showed if they can come together like they did tonight, good things will happen.”

— Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyLabor for live game updates and updates throughout the season.

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