BY GENE DELORENZO
BRANDON — The Mount Abraham boys basketball team took a trip down Route 7 for a clash with Otter Valley in a Saturday afternoon matinee at the “House of Noise” and used their size and speed to claim the win, 57-42.
The Eagles were able to dominate the Otters on both the boards and interior scoring under the coaching of Coach Martin Clark and his staff.
Nine players entered the scoring column for the Eagles, led by senior Henry Cogswell, a rangy 6’3” point guard who directed an offense that was geared towards getting the ball inside to Gavin Banister, Ian Funke, and Noah Gargano.
Otter Valley, playing its characteristic 3-2 zone, had difficulty denying entries into the post and would have needed a 60+ scoring effort to stay with Mt. Abe. It wasn’t to be.
“It is hard to win when you only get 41 shots and the ball doesn’t move enough” cited Otter Valley coach Michael Stark after the game. He also indicated that the team had played several good, solid games in a row where things were really clicking. Saturday was just not their day.
The first quarter was close as neither team could establish dominance. A 9-8 deficit for OV was mainly a result of 4 for 12 shooting. The only hoops came on dribble drive isolation action from Logan Letourneau, Hayden Bernhardt, Elijah Tucker-Bryant and Aiden Decker. Mt. Abe also struggled from the floor on 3 for 9 shooting with three turnovers.
The Otters shooting struggles continued (4 for 12 again in the second quarter) sprinkled in with six turnovers. Mt. Abe, on the other hand, shot 50% in the quarter and that included a trey from Norm Benoit, taking a 22-16 halftime lead.
OV could not do much better in the third quarter. An early flurry put Mt. Abe on top 30-17 before back-to-back threes by Owen Thomas gave the House of Noise faithful a chance to exult as the lead was cut to seven at 30-23. But OV could get no closer as Cogswell continued to direct an offense that was finding interior shots to their liking. Banister would connect on two quality inside hoops while Dom DiNapoli and Norm Benoit added buckets just before the third-quarter buzzer to give the visitors a 40-32 lead after three.
As has happened several times recently, OV came out pressuring to try and gain a fourth comeback, but it was not to be. Mt. Abe scored on six of their first eight possessions in the quarter and built an insurmountable 57-39 lead with just over two minutes to play. OV scored on a couple of foul shots late, but that was all they could get to.
Cogswell led the Eagles in scoring with 14, while Banister chimed in with 8, Benoit had 7. OV was led by Letourneau with 13, Owen Thomas, and Tucker-Bryant chipping in 8 apiece.
But, through a quirk of re-scheduling, OV will have a chance to redeem themselves on Monday night with a trip of their own up Route 7 to take on the Eagles in their own nest-a gym of equal noise and fan excitement in Bristol.
“I would like to think we can learn from this one and give them a heck of a game up there,” said Coach Stark. Mt. Abraham improved to 13-4 with the win, Otter Valley dropped to 3-15.