2017-03-16 / Sports
Devil Boys Are the State Div. III Champs
The 2016-2017 boys basketball season at Williamstown came to an exciting conclusion last weekend. The final game was played in the Division III championship at the Barre Auditorium, the 6th season in a row that a Blue Devil season has ended in such a manner. Unlike last year, this end result was a Blue Devil victory, and their 5th division three championship in the last 6 years.
In the semi-final matchup, Williamstown was able to keep the frequently deadly from long range Windsor team in check. The Blue Devils displayed a couple of the things, among others, that made them so dangerous all year long: transition offense out of a pressure defense, and superb ball movement. The offense never slowed down, cruising to a 71-48 victory to clinch the championship appearance.
Brandon Carrier lead the team in that matchup with 15 points and 4 assists, and Brandon Covey added 12. Scoring was spread across several other players, with Ben Bristow scoring 9 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, Nathan Poulin scoring 9 and rebounding 9, Cameron Flinn adding 8 points and 5 rebounds, and Jacob Tassie and Eric Hulbert each contributing 7 points.
Hazen survived a scare from Twin Valley in the other semi-final matchup, to guarantee basketball fans would have the rematch from last year that they all wanted to see.
The top two teams in division three had faced off twice during the season, with Williamstown coming out victorious in both games. There was never much doubt that this third matchup was going to lack excitement, if only based on the circumstances surrounding the game. Hazen of course won the championship last year, preventing Williamstown from winning a 5th title in a row.
In this year’s edition, Williamstown jumped out to an early advantage with a 6-0 run, and forcing turnovers on Hazen’s first 4 possessions. After forcing an early timeout, momentum was swaying largely in favor of the number 1 seed Williamstown. Hazen quickly fought back, and the quarter remained back and forth until the conclusion, ending at 14-14.
The Blue Devils continued to execute on the offensive end, but Hazen Senior star Denis LeCours seemed to have an answer for every score. This forced the Blue Devils out of their usual zone defense, and into a man to man. The game remained back and forth into the half-time intermission, but Williamstown managed a 33-28 advantage.
During the 3rd quarter Hazen erased the deficit and even took a lead at one point. The Blue Devils never gave in, and quickly regained momentum and the lead. Entering the final 8 minutes of play, it was a 2 point lead for Williamstown at 50-48.
Finally getting some separation in the early minutes of the final quarter, Williamstown was able to slow down the pace and control the game. This ultimately forced Hazen into having to foul, allowing Williamstown the chance to put the game away at the free throw line. They were able to do just that, lead largely by Brandon Carrier and Jacob Tassie. When the final buzzer sounded, Williamstown had won 66-54 and setting off a celebration by the team and crowd.
Nathan Poulin had a terrific championship performance, scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Ben Bristow continued his elevated playoff play with 13 points and 5 rebounds, and fellow Senior Cameron Flinn scored 10 points while grabbing 4 rebounds. Carrier scored 8 and assisted on 6. Tassie, a freshman who played a pivotal role all year long, had 7 points in the contest.
There could not have been an ending more appropriate for this team, a bunch that played as a coherent unit all year long. This group of kids never stopped working hard, and their determination to realize this goal was unmatched. Lead by a stellar core group of senior leadership, and supported by excellent underclass contributors, this team had the perfect blue print for success.
As a coach, this team was a privilege to be able to work with. Congratulations to the players, whose rewards are well earned. Thank you to my fellow coaching staff, who is like family to me and makes every day of the season such a joy.
Finally, thank you to all parents and members of the Williamstown community. Your support of our program makes everything possible.