By Gregory J. Lamoureux
WINOOSKI: When BFA Fairfax hosted Winooski on December 19th, it took overtime to determine the winner, but when the Bullets traveled to Winooski Tuesday evening, they pulled out the 63-61 win with seconds to spare.
The Bullets would surge ahead several times in the 32 minutes of regulation, including a 7-2 run to start the game, but Winooski always found a way to claw their way back to within a few points of the lead- or take the lead altogether.
After the Bullet’s 7-2 run in the first four minutes of play, the Spartans clawed their way back to a 12-9 lead with 30 seconds left in the first quarter.
A couple of free throws paired with a buzzer-beating three, from about six feet into three-point land, sent Fairfax into their first break with a one-point lead over Winooski.
The fast paced play lead to countless turnovers on both sides, but Winooski seemed to have the upper hand on securing the loose balls.
“(Winooski) will turn you over,” Demar said of the gameplay, “You gotta figure out a way to deal with the pressure, and it’s hard to practice that. They are trapping all over the court. They like to force the pass over the center of the court, and they know how to pick those off.”
The Bullets were victim to many of those picked off center court passes Tuesday, leading to an easy bucket and two points for the Spartans.
The Bullets would come out swinging again in the second half, building to a 21-15 lead in three minutes of play, but Winooski again chipped away at that lead, cutting the Bullets’ lead to 21-17 over the next two minutes of play.
Keeping their head in the game, Fairfax played solid defense and handled the ball well to finish up the first half, going into the locker room with a solid 30-21 lead.
Cam Meunier’s basket with 4:37 on the clock would give the Bullets’ the largest lead of the game, an 11 point advantage over Winooski with 12 minutes left of regulation.
Just when the third quarter was looking like it would seal the deal for the Bullets, the Spartans again found a way to stop them. With several turnovers, the Spartans went on a 6-0 run late in the third.
BFA Fairfax would try to answer with a 4-0 run, but the Spartans followed that up with a 10-0 run to finish out the third quarter, securing a one-point lead over the Bullets.
The fourth quarter, at least most of it, was not so friendly to the Bullets. A quick basket by Winooski’s Maxx Gordon boosted their lead to three.
Twenty seconds later, Fairfax’ Weston Black answered the call, with a three from the corner, to tie the game at 43.
Going to their rock for the night, Winooski looked to Trevon Bradley for a bucket, giving him two of his game-high 32 points, and giving the Spartans the two-point advantage again with seven minutes to play. Bradley followed that up with a pair of free throws, extending their lead to 47-43.
A pair of jumpers from beyond the arc put Fairfax back on top, 49-47 with just under seven minutes to play.
Battling back and forth, Winooski battled back to the top, taking the lead 52-51 with five minutes to play. The Spartans went on a 6-0 run, to build a 55-51 lead over Fairfax.
For the first time since early in the first quarter, the Bullets could see the Spartans pulling away from them.
“I thought it got a little bit away from us there in the fourth quarter,” Demar recalled.
But keeping their head in the game, Cam Meunier put in a bucket, cutting the Spartan lead to a bucket with four minutes in regulation.
Feeding off a missed bucket by Winooski’s star, Trevon Bradley, Fairfax Riley Greene drew a two-shot foul from Winooski’s Ayden Johnson. One of the two shots would fall, cutting the Spartan’s lead to one.
A Winooski free throw and a bucket by Fairfax’ Owen Demar would knot the game at 59, under three minutes to play.
Fairfax had the momentum, and they controlled the ball very well, putting four more points and keeping the Spartans from scoring the rest of the game.
“We got the win,” Demar said, “A dig out a win.”
Carl Bruso leads the Bullets with 18 points, six of which were earned from beyond the arc, and a half a dozen from buckets. The Bullet also picked up half a dozen from free throws, going 6 for 8 on the night.
Cam Meunier pitched in a baker’s dozen for Fairfax, followed by Owen Demar and Andrew Stevens who each had ten.
“They put a ton of ball pressure on the guards,” Demar noted, “I wanted to go big, but when you go big you get slower, so I had to juggle that with sizing and ball handlers.”
The Spartans were lead by Trevon Bradley with 32, their only player to reach double digits.
“They played hard,” Demar said of the Winooski players, “It’s hard to match that, and we sneaked a win out here tonight.”
The win over Winooski ends a three game losing streak for the Bullets and betters their record to 3-3. Moving into the 6th ranked position in D-3, the Bullets look to continue the momentum today, January 9th, as they host Stowe.
Stowe is 4-1 on the season, ranked second in D-3. Their only loss came at the hands of Websterville 54-59 when they traveled to Websterville. The only team that Fairfax and Stowe share on their record is Winooski, which Stowe defeated 54-43.
“I’m proud of our guys on defense today- they played great team defense,” Demar said, “If we put our focus on defense, we’re going to be a tough out, for sure.”