Here in the WCAX Sports department, we covered a lot of great games in 2017. So we thought it would be fun to count down the very best of the year. On Friday, we started with the 15th through 11th best games of the calendar year, and Saturday, we get into the first half of the top 10.
Starting with number ten, the Division Three girls basketball state title game featured an I-91 rivalry matchup with Thetford taking on Windsor in Barre back in March. This one was all Yellow Jackets for the first three quarters, then-freshman Olivia Rockwood pacing Windsor as they built a 13 point lead in the fourth quarter. But that's when the Panthers mounted their comeback: Emily Emerson came up with the steal and pushed ahead to Danielle Robinson to cut the deficit to 8, and then Reagan Covey hit the baseline jumper as Thetford climbed back within one. They briefly took the lead before Rockwood drew a foul, and with ice in her veins, she gave Windsor the lead back with 12.5 seconds to play. But on their last possession, Thetford got the ball to Covey, and she made it count! She hit the layup, and the desperation heave for Windsor was no good, Thetford coming from behind to stun the Jackets, 53-52.
To SBHS we go for number 9 in November, cinderella Harwood taking on top seed Lake Region in the D-2 boys soccer final. This looked like a Ranger walk early on. Brady Perron banged one off the bar, but Jackson King was there on the rebound to stake Lake Region to an early lead. They'd tack on in the second, Riley Urie showing off the fancy footwork, the back heel to make it 2-0. But Harwood wasn't going down without a fight. In the final 11 minutes, Henry Drake drew iron on a pen, but followed to get the Highlanders on the board. Minutes later, Connor Wooley got it on the edge of the box and blasted home the equalizer to force overtime! But in the OT, Mathew Menard lofted one in for Perron who heads it low and in to win it for the Rangers! It was their second straight D-2 title.
At number 8, it was a charmed season for the Vermont Lake Monsters, who won their first division title since 2011. In their first home playoff game in September, the Monsters got out to an early 1-0 lead for the dominant Parker Dunshee. But then the unthinkable happened: the rookie who didn't allow a run all regular season was touched up for a pair, Ernie Clement hitting the chopper and Dunshee threw it away to give Mahoning Valley a 2-1 lead. It was 3-1 Scrappers in the 7th when Vermont loaded the bases for Logan Farrar and in a flash, that deficit was gone! Farrar crushed a first pitch grand slam to right to give the Monsters a 5-3 lead! Next batter, was Greg Deichmann...and HE went yard as well! Javier Godard would tack on a 2-run bomb in the 8th as Vermont won the game 8-3 and won the semifinal series two games to none.
At number 7, we head back to Barre for the D-2 boys basketball championship, undefeated Enosburg sought its first ever title against MSJ. It was looking good for the Hornets early, Calvin Carter helped them score the first 9 points of the game, and Caleb Laroche drained a jumper at the buzzer to give them a 7-point edge at the half. But the Green Wave rose up in the third, Deron Walter with the board, count the bucket and the foul to close it to 5, and when Frank Toney hit a triple with under three to go, MSJ had its first lead of the game! But with the game tied and 12 ticks on the clock, MSJ turned it over, and Carter drilled a pair of free throws to put the Hornets in front. Last chance for the Wave, and Carter sealed his hero status with the steal! 33 points on the night for him as Enosburg claimed its first state crown with a 56-54 win!
And that same day over the mountains to Middlebury we go for number 6. The Panthers women's hockey team hosted Norwich in an NCAA D-3 quarterfinal. Midd jumped in front 2-0, the second courtesy of Manchester native Maddie Winslow. But the Cadets struck twice in quick succession in the second period to tie the game at 2. Again, the Panthers built a 2-goal lead in the third, Rachel St. Clair made it 4-2. And again, Norwich proved that a 2-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey: Adelle Murphy the tally with under 3 to play as the rivals would head to overtime. No score in that first period, so they'd play another. In that second OT, Brynn Labbe went for the wrap around to win it for Norwich. She was denied, but Sophie McGovern was not on the rebound! A thriller at Kenyon went Norwich's way, as they advanced to the Frozen Four for the 6th time in 8 years.
We'll wrap up the countdown with the Top 5 games of the year Sunday.