How does the Champlain Valley boys basketball team build a 14-1 record and vault towards the top of the Vermont Principals’ Association Division I rankings?
The clues are in the scorebook.
In Monday night’s 39-34 win over Rice – a team that has won six of the last 10 D-I titles – seven CVU players scored, two hit double-digits and the visiting Green Knights were held under ten points in two of the four quarters.
“We knew we would be up near the top if we put in the work and the effort,” said CVU co-captain Josh Bliss. “It’s definitely paying off now.”
A well-balanced, experienced team playing suffocating defense and using that to trigger an opportunistic offense seems to be what the scorebook reveals.
The Redhawks will take that.
“Our defense is where everything is starting,” Bliss said. “We have come out of the half in almost every game holding teams to under 10 points in the third quarter, which has really sparked our offense.
“Our offense, a lot of it comes from our defense.”
That defense, which held Rice standout Kam Farris to 11 points in Monday’s game, has allowed opponents to score over 50 points just four times this season –- one was the team’s only loss, a 57-49 loss to Burlington.
The other key to the CVU success so far this season has been the veteran presence that the team’s eight seniors are bringing to the court every night.
“Having eight guys that can be leaders at any time is really helpful,” said Redhawk co-captain Walker Storey. “The togetherness of the overall group, whether it’s talking on the court or knowing each other’s tendencies has been really helpful.”
In addition to the team’s eight seniors, CVU also had four juniors and just one sophomore, making this a group that is driven by its upperclassmen.
“The experience, added up, is beautiful,” said CVU coach Michael Osborne. “The continuity together is even better…We’re really used to playing with each other now.”
With such an experienced group, the Redhawks can rely on everyone on the roster to make an impact on the game. While everyone knows Storey, a Burlington Free Press All-State second team pick last season, CVU has seen a number of players step to the forefront on offense this season.
“It’s spread out upon five guys on the court, no matter who they are,” Storey said. “Every night someone can put up 20, someone might only get a few but as long as we get a win, that’s all that matters. “
From Bliss to seniors Matt Spear and Colin Monsey to junior Jack Scotnicki, multiple players have scored double-digits this season, making the group a hard one to game plan for.
“I don’t have to score 30 a night to win, someone else can score that much and we can still get the win,” Bliss said. “Everyone’s unselfish play has led to that.”
As the regular season enters the final stretch – CVU has five games remaining – the Redhawks are focusing on finishing the season the same way as the last 11 games: on the winning side.
“We have a chance to do something great here,” Bliss said. “We knew that it would be our last year to play together so I think there is just that much more effort into each play, each loose ball.”