BURLINGTON — The Rutland Raiders and the Mt. Mansfield Cougars will meet on Saturday afternoon for the 2018 VPA Division One Basketball Championship. That after a semi-final doubleheader on Thursday night inside Patrick Gym.
In game one the top seeded undefeated defending champion Raiders rolled to a 60-35 win over the fourth seeded St. Johnsbury Hilltoppers. The in the nightcap third seeded Mt. Mansfield fought off the second seeded Rice Green Knights 58-54.
Rutland came out hot, riding five points each from Noah Tyson and Keegan Bliss to a 15-5 point lead after a quarter. Tyson and Jacob Lorman added five each in the second as the Raiders built their lead to 13 at 27-14 at halftime.
Jamieson Evans threw down 14 points and Jared Nelson added ten in the second half as the defending champs roared away for the easy win.
Evans finished with a game high 19 points, while Tyson added a double/double with 14 points and 14 rebounds and Nelson chipped in 12 points. Logan Wendell led the Hilltoppers with 10.
In the nightcap MMU broke open a close game in the third quarter and went on to eliminate Rice.
The Cougars’ Asa Carlson and Rice’s Michel Ndayishimiye each put up seven as the two teams battled to a 15-15 standoff after a quarter. But key to the game, Rice’s Leo Chaiken picked up his second and third fouls in a ten second span just before the end of the quarter and sat the rest of the half.
In the second quarter Harrison Leombruno-Nicolson put up six points and Tyler Muttilainen added five and the Cougars opened a one point edge, 28-27 at halftime. Then in the third Mark Howland came off the bench to score six as MMU stretched the lead to eight at 44-36. The Cougars would push the lead to double figures in the fourth before Rice shaved the lead down to four at the end.
Muttilainen led the Cougars with a double/double 17 points and 13 boards. Leombruno-Nicolson added 14, Carlson added nine, Howland finished with eight and Zach Reinhardt chipped in seven. Overall the Cougars out rebounded Rice 49-33.
Ndayishimiye led Rice with 18 and Kam Farris added 17, but no other Knight had more than five.
MMU will take an 18-5 record into the Saturday afternoon title showdown with the Raiders. Rice ends their year at 19-4.