Noah Earl taps an long inbound pass from Liam Howrigan in with just 0.7 seconds left to close the first half of Tuesday's win over Mt. Mansfield (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)


By Ben Kaufmann

ST. ALBANS – Noah Earl and Charlie Yates each scored a dozen points, Thomas Demar posted nine and Seth Richards and Justin Brown scored eight apiece to help BFA-St. Albans to a 61-48 win over Mt. Mansfield on Tuesday.

BFA (6-2) led nearly wire-to-wire, never trailing again after taking a 4-3 lead early in the first quarter against the Cougars (0-9). On the heels of a win against South Burlington, the Bobwhites now shift attention to defending champion Rice, which will come to town Friday on a mission after dropping its first game of the season in a 20-point drubbing at the hands of unbeaten St. Johnsbury. 

Consecutive assists by Demar to Richards and Brown helped BFA to an 8-3 lead late in the first quarter on Tuesday. After a Cougar basket, Connor Leach converted an and-one play to give the hosts an 11-5 lead after a quarter. Four points each from Yates and Richards helped BFA maintain its lead but the play of the game came in the final second before halftime. With 0.7 seconds on the clock, Liam Howrigan lofted an inbounds pass from midcourt to Earl, who rose to meet the ball and tap it in from eight feet away to make it a 26-18 Bobwhite lead at halftime.

“We’ll take that. It might have hit the wire but I didn’t see it,” BFA coach Tristan Menard said of the Howrigan-to-Earl play at the buzzer.

An MMU basket to open the third quarter got the Cougars within six, but Brown answered with three straight points to establish a cushion. A contender for co-play of the game came on an acrobatic up-and-under layup while drawing a foul by Yates. Yates hit the ensuing foul shot to give BFA a 35-23 lead with three minutes to go in the quarter. In response to five straight Cougar points, Demar scored five of his own – the first coming on a three after a daring cross-court pass from Howrigan, to help BFA to a 32-45 lead entering the fourth.

BFA’s Thomas Demar muscles his way up for two of his nine points in Tuesday’s win over MMU (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)

BFA did struggle to put the game away. Following the putback of an offensive rebound from William Hughes, MMU went on a 10-1 run to cut the BFA advantage to 49-44 just before the midway point of the fourth quarter. Earl scored the first five points of a game-closing 12-4 run to help BFA escape with the victory.

“Our defense was sloppy tonight, real sloppy. Things that we’ve been doing all season, I think we just lost a little focus coming off a couple of wins. It’s a win, but hopefully it knocks us back into focus a little bit,” said Earl, noting that MMU did a nice job or making the evening difficult.

“That was the scrappiest team I think we’ve seen. I didn’t know they were going to play as much zone as they did early so good on them for shifting things up a little bit. Once we got into a groove a little bit we started to figure it out.”

Offensively, BFA did well to spread the scoring between those mentioned at the top of this story and others. Howrigan finished with seven points, Leach had three and Hughes added two. The team as a whole made 20-29 free throws. The Bobwhites don’t have a player likely to score 30 points, but the balance is a weapon of its own.

“That’s fine, I like it that way,” said Menard. “I think on any given night we might have five or six guys step up and lead us in scoring. That’s important, it’s going to be important down the stretch.”

On the other end of the ball, Menard was content to chalk it up to an off night. He acknowledged, however, what could happen on Friday if BFA has another subpar defensive night.

“It’s going to be a rough one.”

Tipoff for BFA’s biggest game thus far is slated for 7:30PM on Friday in St. Albans.

Liam Howrigan elevates for a cross-court assist on a Thomas Demar three in the third quarter of Tuesday’s victory over Mt. Mansfield (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)