Faith Benjamin launches a shot during BFA-Fairfax’s playdown loss at Winooski on Tuesday. (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)

Bullets’ Season Ends at Winooski

By Ben Kaufmann
County Courier

WINOOSKI – BFA-Fairfax knew it was going to need to find a scoring touch to pull of an upset at Winooski to open the Division III playoffs on Tuesday. As has been the case all season, BFA’s defense was fine, it was able to get open shots, and none of those shots were falling. In the end, the offense the No. 11 Bullets had been waiting for all season never arrived and Fairfax fell to No. 6 Winooski, 39-29.

Tuesday’s playdown loss was the definition of “not their night” for the Bullets (3-5). Aside from open looks all over the floor not going in, most of BFA’s key pieces suffered some bad luck at one point or another. Senior captain Jaycee Douglas suffered a scary knee injury in the fourth quarter after taking lesser knocks throughout the night. Her cohort, Paige Superneau, was in foul trouble most of the evening. Bullet junior Hazel Albee hurt her shoulder in the third quarter and attempted to return but wasn’t able to stay on the floor long.

The most important takeaway from Tuesday is the hope that the injuries to Albee and Douglas looked worse than they were. It was clearly not BFA’s night long before either player went down and all involved will hope the evening is soon a memory.

As for the rest of the game, there wasn’t much noteworthy. Albee’s defense, including a couple of blocks in the first quarter, helped BFA stick around for awhile. But the Spartans (6-3) were never really threatened, jumping out to a 7-0 lead and never trailing by fewer than eight points in the second half. In her basketball finale, Superneau led the Bullets with 11 points. Madison Murphy had 12 rebounds.

As mentioned, Fairfax didn’t struggle to create shots. Close to double-digit attempts at three-pointers had missed the target before Superneau hit BFA’s first to cut the Winooski lead to 26-16 late in the third quarter. Fittingly, Douglas made a three for BFA’s next points off an assist from Superneau for her final mark in the scorebook as a Bullet. That shot was followed by one more Superneau three, BFA’s last of the day, to key a 13-6 BFA run to end the game with a closer score than it probably should have been.

The Spartans looked very ready to move forward in the postseason. They led 9-6 after the first quarter and cruised through the second to take a 19-11 lead into halftime. They led by 10 points after the third quarter and were up 33-16 with six minutes to go before BFA closed strong. Winooski will expect to travel to No. 3 Vergennes for a Saturday quarterfinal but would host No. 14 Randolph if there’s an upset on Wednesday.

There’s plenty for BFA to be excited about next year, when a 20-game season should allow plenty of time to build an offensive rhythm. Sophomore Faith Benjamin, who scored seven points on Tuesday, has established herself as a worthy candidate to take the backcourt reigns from Superneau and Douglas for the next two seasons. Classmate Taylor Duquette added three points against the Spartans and will become an even more important player next year after a fine sophomore campaign. Albee was limited to just a pair of points against the Spartans but is expected to be as formidable a post player as anyone else in the Mountain League next year.

Before looking forward to 2021-22, there’s a great deal of recognition to offer the outgoing Fairfax seniors. The praise for Superneau and Douglas, who finished with six points Tuesday, is deserved an unending. It’s emblematic that Douglas hurt herself trying to grab a steal long after the outcome of the game was determined – BFA coach Lee Tourville repeated many times this season that this group never gave up.

Beyond that spectacular backcourt duo, there are four other Bullet seniors who were each an asset to the program. Murphy, a regular starter, was an expert at making teams pay for focusing too much on Douglas or Superneau. Courtney Burnor and Britney Hamel each saw plenty of minutes and specialized in doing the gritty work which rarely makes it into the scorebook but is necessary for team success. And when Tourville needed to force turnovers without committing fouls or hang on to the ball for an extended period, he put in Samantha Bidwell. BFA has a fair reputation for putting the team above the individual and this outgoing senior class is the main reason.