We are now just a few days away from the dawn of a new year, but before the calendar flips to 2020, we are counting down the top 15 games involving our area teams in 2019. Today we kick things off with 15 through 11.
At number 15, a crazy game down in Manchester as Burr and Burton hosted St. Johnsbury in a battle of Division One football unbeatens. The Toppers would seize the initiative in this one with David Hutchison busting through the Bulldog defense as St. J would take a 16-6 lead. Burr and Burton flipped the game on its head after that, scoring the next 19 points, Joey McCoy finding Jack Morrison who somehow hauled it in to give the Dogs a 25-16 lead. But the star of the day would prove to be Hutchison. His six scores on the night allowed the Toppers to rally for the 50-38 victory, though BBA would get revenge in the state title game.
At number 14, quarterfinals of the Men's NCAA D-III hockey tournament. Host Norwich would go behind UNE early in this one, as the Nor'easters broke the ice just 4 minutes in on a tally by Brendan Donahue, but the Cadets would respond: Coby Downs pounced on a rebound in front, his backhand going top corner to tie it at one later in the first. It remained that way through regulation, but a stroke of brilliance in OT would prove the difference as Felix Brassard stole the puck behind the UNE net, stopped on a dime, and beat the keeper short side to win it 2-1. The Cadets would make it all the way to the title game.
Number 13 takes us to Middlebury for the D1 high school field hockey semifinals, MMU doing all they could to hang with top seeded Rice. The Knights would seem to score the game's first goal late in the second, but it was waved off for hitting a defender's leg on the way in. Marcelle Barber was spectacular in net for the Cougs, denying Kate McKenzie and then Kate Buckley in the dying moments to deny Rice a winner, but eventually the Knights proved too strong as Buckley blasted the one-timer by Barber to send Rice on to the final where they would defeat Bellows Falls.
More from Rice at number 12, and this one was absolutely nuts. Boys basketball from February at CVU, and the eventual top seed found themselves down as many as 18 in the second half after this and-one from Bennett Cheer. Sophomore guard Michel Ndayishimiye would lead Rice back into this one, a three and a steal leading to an easy bucket trimmed it down to 5. Again CVU would throw a punch, with Mason Otley driving the lane to push the lead back to double figures. Rice would even the game on an and-one from Ndayishimiye and take its first lead of the half on a scoop and score from Bila Bogre. But a foul and free throws from Ethan Harvey put the Redhawks back up by one with 4 seconds to go. Cue Ndayishimiye, who took it down court, pulled up, and drained the three to give Rice a 67-65 win. More from them later.
And at number 11, a grudge match in the girls volleyball final between the only two schools who have ever won a state title. Essex entered the title match unbeaten, having handed CVU its only two losses. The Redhawks would take two of the first three sets, putting them on the precipace of a championship. But Essex rallied to take the fourth set 26-24 after CVU's Taylor Detch hit one wide...but she'd make up for it. Up 15-14 in the fifth, it was Detch's serve that the Hornets couldn't handle, giving CVU a 3-2 victory and their second volleyball title in four years.