The BFA-St. Albans boys basketball team used stingy defense to come away with a victory at Missisquoi on Sunday afternoon.
The Bobwhites held the Thunderbirds to just three points in the second quarter to take a four-point lead at the half and held them off from there on their way to a 40-36 win over their in-county rivals.
“I was very pleased with our defensive effort in the first half and the fourth quarter,” said BFA coach Matt Toof. “Offensively, we have struggled putting consecutive possessions together where we are scoring, which is something we have been struggling with all year, and it happened again today.”
The Bobwhites held the tough duo of Patrick Walker and Gabe Unwin to just 13 combined points in the game. Charlie Yates did a bulk of the defending on Walker, while scoring 12 points.
“I thought Charlie did a great job guarding Walker all game long,” said Toof. “We didn’t want him to get going, and Charlie did a good job of keeping him uncomfortable.”
Case Ballard and sophomore Seth Richards took on the duties of defending Unwin. It was Richards’ first game at the varsity level on the season. He also chipped in six points and five rebounds for the Bobwhites.
“Seth did a great job for his first day at this level,” said Toof. “He has been playing well at the JV level, and had a player who was out today, and we have been thinking about bringing him up and the opportunity opened up today. We threw him in there, he traveled his first possession, but then he settled in nicely.”
MVU held a 10-9 by the end of the first quarter, but couldn’t find any rhythm offensively in the second quarter only scoring three points on three free throws.
The Bobwhites capitalized scoring eight points with four different players scoring to extend the lead to 17-13 at the half.
“We were point-blank over, and over, and over,” said Missisquoi coach Matt Walker. “We had wide-open layups, easy jumpers and we missed them.”
The teams played even in the second half with both of them scoring 14 points in the third quarter and nine in the fourth with Yates leading the way for BFA with seven in the half.
The score could have looked a little different if the Bobwhites capitalized on their free throws a little more. After not taking a free-throw shot in the first half, they were only 3-of-18 in the second half.
“Free throw shooting has certainly been tough this year,” said Toof. “We haven’t been trying to highlight it, but there are definitely some things we need to work on.”
In limited action, Matt Curtis gave the Thunderbirds a bit of a spark in the second half as he continues to deal with an injury that has limited him all season.
He finished the game with six points and three rebounds in the game.
“Matt certainly gave us a lift out there when he was able to play,” said coach Walker. “He’s emotional, he wears his heart on his sleeve and it’s been tough for him being his senior season and being limited and it gives you that feeling of what if? And you feel for him.”
Yates’ 12 points led the Bobwhites with Ballard and Richards each finishing with six. Justin Brown chipped in four.
Sean Power led the Thunderbirds with eight points in the game followed by Unwin and Caleb Johnston with seven, Curtis and Walker each had six.
The loss was MVU’s second in a row, as they fell to 3-3 on the year. They will look to get back in the win column on Wednesday when they host Mt. Abraham.
“We made some adjustments at the half, and I thought in the second half we got every shot we wanted,” said coach Walker. “But again, we just couldn’t make them.”
Playing on a Sunday wasn’t the only different part in the game, but also an empty gym between these two teams was something that really stood out to Toof.
“It’s unfortunate that COVID took away that experience for both schools,” he said. “I usually can’t hear myself in the gym when it’s packed for these games, so that was certainly different and unfortunate.”
The Bobwhites improved to 3-3 on the season, and also improved to 3-0 in road games.
They will go for two in a row and look for their first home win when they host North Country on Wednesday.