S. Burlington Tuesday, May 19th
BURLINGTON, Vt. - WCAX Sports Director goes into the Channel Three archives and looks back at the 2004 America East men's basketball championship game with UVM Athletics Hall of Famer Taylor Coppenrath:
It's game day...March of 2004. Patrick Gym is packed to the rafters for the America East men's basketball championship game between Vermont and Maine. UVM junior standout Taylor Coppenrath has been out a month with a fractured wrist. It's not fully healed, but Coppenrath is in the starting lineup as the Cats attempt to win a second straight conference title.
"Every time I start it or every time I played I would always get a lot of adrenaline building up into the game.", says Coppenrath. "
I was very excited when I was out there but also a little bit subconsciously worried about the wrist."
But all it took was one play in the early going to turn apprehension into exhilaration.
"Somebody took a shot and I got the rebound, powered up through and got fouled.", says Coppenrath. "After that, I didn't even think about my wrist. It was just so much adrenaline pumped up in that one play."
For the rest of that first half, Coppenrath put together a virtuoso performance...scoring from every angle and every spot on the floor...to the tune of 28 first half points, out-scoring Maine by himself as Vermont, backed by a delirious Patrick Gym crowd, led by 17 at the half 40-23...
"It was pretty surreal.", says Coppenrath. "I don't even think I had time to analyze and think about what was going on, I was just so in the moment."
Vermont went on to win 73-52. Coppenrath finished with a championship game record 43 points as Vermont won a second straight America East title, but the first at home, giving all of Cat Country it's first real taste of what March Madness was all about.
"I just remember feeling a little lightheaded at times, because everyone is out there.", says Coppenrath. "You're in a huge group of fans and then you're climbing up a ladder and cutting down the net."
For Coppenrath, that game was one of the top moments of a journey that started in West Barnet and St. Johnsbury, ultimately leading to a decade-long professional career in Europe and his number being retired at Patrick Gym this past October. A testament to how far both talent and hard work can take you.
"For me,", says Coppenrath, "it was a sense of pride because I came from a really small town, which is not uncommon in Vermont, and then just kept improving over the years."