By Ben Kaufmann
County Courier

BFA-Fairfax didn’t just eke out a shocking upset over heavily-favored Bellows Falls on Wednesday night, the No. 14 Bullets cruised to a 76-53 win over the No. 3 Terriers in a Division III playdown game. 

“We came out in the first quarter and played our best basketball of the season,” said Bullet coach Dave Demar. “We got all the loose balls and made all the effort plays. That set the tone for the whole game.”

Owen Demar led BFA (3-5) with 19 points and a handful of assists. Carl Bruso and Isaac Decker each tallied double-digit rebounds, with Bruso adding 17 points and Decker scoring 14. Riley Greene also chipped in 14 points for Fairfax, which bested its previous high score (56 in a season-opening loss at Danville) by 20 points.

The Bullets will be on the road again for a quarterfinal on Saturday against No. 6 Williamstown.

This is just the 11th time a Vermont high school basketball team of any gender in any division has won a playdown game as a No. 14 or higher – going back to the mid-1970’s when playoff seeds were first recorded for the state tournaments. The Division IV Concord boys were the last No. 14 seed to advance to a boys’ quarterfinal, toppling No. 3 Cabot in overtime in 2004. Brattleboro’s girls’ team reached the Division I semifinals in 2016 as a No. 14.

BFA became the second-highest seed ever to win a Division III  playdown game after No. 15 Black River, which advanced to the boys’ Division III title game in 2001. Only two times in the history of the Division III boys’ playoffs has a No. 14 ever won a playdown game – West Rutland in 1975 (when the No. 11, 12, 13, and 14 teams all won their playdown games) and Poultney a year earlier. 

Fairfax did earn the record of largest playdown win by a No. 14 or higher. Wednesday’s 23-point triumph topped the 18-point victory by the Burlington girls in 1996 and the 19-point margin West Rutland enjoyed in 1975.

Vermont High School Basketball – Playdown Wins By a No. 14 Seed or Higher

SeedYearSchoolDivision Playdown Win MarginEnd Result
161985BFA-St. Albans Boys17Lost in championship game (OT)
152001Black River Boys34Lost in championship game
141974Poultney Boys38Lost in semifinals
141975West Rutland Boys319Lost in quarterfinals
141975U-32 Boys25Lost in championship game
141987Essex Boys15Lost in quarterfinals
141996Burlington Girls118Lost in quarterfinals
14 2001Poultney Girls38Lost in quarterfinals
142004Concord Boys47 (OT)Lost in quarterfinals
142016Brattleboro Girls12 (OT)Lost in semifinals
142021BFA-Fairfax Boys323