SOUTH BURLINGTON — After better than three quarters of back and forth even basketball, The Rice Memorial Green Knights finally took control in the 4th quarter, outscoring the Essex Hornets 16-8 down the stretch to win their Vermont Principals Association Division One quarterfinal 70-62 on Friday night on Bernie Cieplicki Court.
It was dead even most of the night as the clubs were tied at 14 after the first quarter and at 33 at the half. Rice outscored Essex 16-10 in the third quarter to carry a 49-43 lead into the final eight minutes, but the Hornets scored the first six points of the fourth to tie it again, and it was 54-54 midway in the fourth before Rice put on their final run to secure the win.
Michel Ndayishimiye led the Green Knights with 27 points, while Mo Awayle and Leo Chaikin each contributed 18, Chaikin getting ten of those in the final quarter.
Sophomore Aiden Paquette led a balanced Essex attach with 12 points, while seniors Robbie Meslin and Stephen Astor each chipped in 11, with six other Hornets making it onto the scoring sheet.
With the win Rice improves to 19-2 as they head to the Patrick Gym for the VPA semi-finals on Monday night. Essex ends their season at 13-9.