BURLINGTON — Mo Awayle and Michel Ndayishimiye combined for 23 of Rice Memorial’s 27 second half points and the top seeded Green Knights completed a comeback from a nine point first half deficit, topping the defending champion St.Johnsbury Academy Hilltoppers 53-51 in the Vermont Principals Association Division One State Championship game on Sunday afternoon inside the Patrick Gymnasium.
The Hilltoppers came out strong, riding the shooting of Logan Wendell and Nick Guckin to build the Academy lead which peaked at 32-23 seconds before Ndayishimiye’s long three at the buzzer cut it to six at 32-26 at halftime.
Rice turned things around in the third, riding three three pointers from Awayle to a 17-9 edge and a two point lead at 43-41 after three. Ndayishimiye then scored six of the Knight’s ten points in the final stanza, including the game winning hoop after a Wendell layup had briefly given the Hilltoppers a one point lead.
Ndayishimiye led the scoring for Rice with 20 points. Awayle added 17 and freshman Mohammed Kanneh contributed nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Wendell led St.Johnsbury with 14. Guckin added eleven and Andrew Cowan contributed nine points, 14 rebounds and six blocks.
The state title was Rice’s sixteenth overall, and their first since 2015. They finish the season 21-2. St. Johnsbury ends their season at 17-6.