The Rice Memorial High School boys’ basketball team proved it deserved the top seed in Vermont with a convincing 72-38 victory over Champlain Valley Union High School in the semifinal round of the 2021 basketball playoffs on March 24.
After the Green Knights scored first, on their home court, CVU responded with four free-throws from Logan Vaughan and a 3-pointer from Alex Provost to take a 7-2 lead after just two minutes of play.
Superior quickness led the home team to go on a 14-4 run in the remaining six minutes of quarter one.
Deng Dau scored on a pretty feed from Devin Rodgers, and two from the charity line by Oliver Pudvar was all the offense CVU could muster from the 11 players who saw action on the hardwood, before the scoreboard read “Home: 16, Away: 11.”
Rice’s players switched to a tough zone defense, causing the visitors limited scoring opportunities, and while Rice was successful on seven shots of eight from the line, the Redhawks missed on the front end of three “one and one” tries in the second frame of action.
This helped the home team to outscore their opponents 24-8 in those eight minutes of play.
Redhawks hoops were recorded by: Ethan Murphy; Rodgers on an assist from Turner Elliott; and a running one hander from Zach Doane; while Tucker Tharpe sank both of his freebies at the line, to make the score 40-19, Rice, at half-time. Fourteen players in red saw time in the second quarter trying to slow down the Green Knight stampede.
Rodgers made one of two from the 12-foot line to start out the third period, and Rice decides to slow things down with a 20-point lead, being very patient on its offensive attack.
This resulted in the Green Knights adding only 14 points to its total. CVU received: a basket from downtown by Doane, Rodgers connecting on two free throws after getting hacked, and a layup from Turner Elliott after receiving a full court pass from Pudvar, that pushed the home team advantage to 54-27, with eight minutes left for the winner to get invited to the finals in Barre.
With victory no longer in doubt in the final period, it allowed Coach Mike Osborne to break his season-long tradition of getting all the teammates into the action. Instead he rewarded the five seniors for their dedication to the program by letting them play the first six minutes of action together as teammates. Rodgers performed his typical drive and pop for two, Dau put one back from an offensive rebound, then drained one from beyond the arc that brought the bench to its feet. This was followed by a soft ten-footer from Doane, and a successful drive by Dau that put the finishing touches on the offense for the seniors: Doane, Henry Bijar, Dau, Ethan Czarny and Rodgers.
The underclassmen finished the game, which saw Rice connect on 20 of 26 free throws in the 72-38 win. Dau was the high scorer for the Redhawks with nine and Rodgers contributed seven.
The Redhawks finished the season with a respectable 8-4 record.