BURLINGTON — The top seeded Hilltoppers of St. Johnsbury Academy and the second seeded five time defending state champion CVU Redhawks advanced to the 2018 VPA Division One championship game with semi-final wins on Wednesday night inside the Patrick Gym.
In Game One St. Johnsbury edged the fifth seeded Rice Memorial Green Knights 48-44 in overtime. Then in the night cap CVU rolled past the number four North Country Falcons 49-29.
In the first game St. Johnsbury and Rice struggled to a 7-7 tie after the first quarter before a 10-2 run early in the second gave the Green Knights an eight point lead. But the Hilltoppers finished the half on a 7-0 run of their own to trail by one, 17-16 at the half.
St. Jay carried their momentum into the third quarter, opening as much as a nine point lead before Rice regrouped to move within six at 30-24 after three. Rice carried the play over the fourth quarter, actually rallying to take a late lead. But a pair of late Academy
free throws tied the game at 39-39 after regulation.
The ‘Toppers then scored the first six points of the overtime and held on for the win.
Sadie Stetson led the Academy with 17 points and Josie Choiniere nailed four three pointers on her way to a 15 point night. Lisa Sulejmani had a double double with 13 points and 12 rebounds for Rice, while Kristen Varin added 11 points and Lizzy Lyman chipped in 10.
St. Johnsbury advances to Sunday’s title game with a record of 21-2. Rice ends their season at 16-7.
In the second game CVU roared out to a 17-3 first quarter lead and built it to 24-6 by halftime. The Redhawks used all 14 of their players and 12 of them scored. Lindsey Albertelli led the very balanced attack with eight points, Meghan Gilwee added seven, Catherine Gilwee chipped in six, while Nicole Eaton and Emma Bissonette each contributed five.
North Country’s Kylie Wright lead all scorers with 17.
CVU will head into Sunday’s pursuit of their sixth straight state title with a 21-2 record. North Country, which saw their 14 game winning streak snapped, ends their season at 18-5.
St. Johnsbury and CVU will tip it off for the championship on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm.