Essex — The Essex Hornets fought off a ferocious second half comeback, toppng the St. Johnsbury Academy Hilltoppers 57-55 in an opening night matchup on Thursday night on Jean Robinson Court.
Riding the hot hand of senior Eli DiGrande, the Hornets opened up a nine point lead, 29-20 at the break. But the Academy outscored the home team 35-27 over the final 16 minutes, missing a three point look at the end that would have given them the win.
DiGrande led Essex with a game high 19 points. Freshman Reilly Smith added 13 and Eli Baez chipped in nine for the winners.
Antonio Carlisle led four Hilltoppers in double figures with 16, while Alex Carlisle, Nate Yatesand Codron Cobzaru each added eleven.