Devils Are State Champs Two Years in a Row
The Big Blue Machine kept on rolling last week. The Blue Devil Boys captured their second straight Div III crown, and they did it in an impressive fashion at their “second home court”-the Barre Auditorium. First the ‘Devils knocked off Archrival Rivendell 60-54, last Thursday, in a semifinal game that wasn’t really as close as the final score would indicate. Then on Saturday night the Williamstown Boys dispatched Thetford 63-39 in the championship game.
The Barre Auditorium is Vermont’s Mecca in March and an hour before game time the crowd stretched around the building as fans from both side waited for the doors to open. The Auditorium was packed. Both Williamstown and Thetford could have held their respective Town Meetings at the “Aud” last Saturday night and probably both would have had better attendance than at their official meetings last Tuesday.
In the opening minutes it was Duff 5, Thetford 0. That lead stretched out to 10 -2 and it looked like Williamstown would run away and hide. But the Panthers apparently didn’t get the memo. Thetford went on a 10-1 run and when the first quarter buzzer sounded Williamstown was on the short end of a 12-11 score.
That lead didn’t last very long. Thanks to an 8 point second quarter by Devin Duff and airtight defense by everybody the “Devils had a 26-14 lead at the break. To say the defense was outstanding would be a massive understatement. .“We just started pressuring the ball as much we could. We got some tips, deflections and traps, just put pressure on them. They couldn’t really breathe that well. We wanted to pressure the ball as much as we could so their decision making would be altered,” Williamstown coach Jack Carrier said.
With that pressure the Blue Devils held Thetford scoreless for the first 7:29 of the eight-minute quarter. The ‘Devils held a 12 point advantage at the intermission but the huge Williamstown crowd on hand at the “Aud” was restive to say the least. They had already seen the Panthers come storming back once and they didn’t want to see it again.
In the third period the Blue Devils put their fans fears to rest. Thanks to six more points from Devin Duff and six from Jason Manwaring (14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, an assist and a steal) the Boys of the Blue & White out-scored the Panthers 22-9 in the third to take a 48-23 lead into the final stanza. The lead stretched out to 30 a couple of times in the fourth but time seemed to stand still for the Williamstown faithful as the “Devils made trip after trip to the foul line. Once again free throw practice paid off. The Blue Devils went 9 for 13 in the fourth quarter from the charity stripe. Thetford did mount a comeback of sorts late in the fourth and managed to out-score Williamstown 16-15 thanks to three-ball shooting but the Horse had left the barn by then.
In addition to Duff and Manwaring, Hunter McLaughlin chipped in eight points and four rebounds. Garret Poulin had three key rebounds and Seth Atherton swiped three steals in the 63-39 Championship victory. But there was another player that didn’t show up in the scorebook but made a huge contribution the Williamstown fans. Ear -shattering chants of “I Believe that we will win” and “This is our house” rattled off the walls of the venerable edifice high atop Seminary Street as the Blue Devil fans shouted their support throughout the game. Williamstown was essentially closed from 6p.m. to about 10 p.m. on Saturday night as seemingly everybody made the trip to the Barre Auditorium to root for their beloved Blue Devils. The trip was worth it. When everybody got back and turned the light on they knew that the “Devils had clinched their second straight Div Crown with an impressive 63-39 victory over Thetford.
So the Blue Devil’s season comes to a successful conclusion. A 23-0 record, and their second-straight Div III Crown.