BFA-Fairfax’s Evan Fletcher looks for a cutting Kaden Labor during the Bullets’ 51-44 win over Richford on Thursday (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)


By Ben Kaufmann
County Courier

FAIRFAX – Richford erased 10-point BFA-Fairfax leads in each of the first two-quarters of Thursday night’s contest but needed one more comeback. Trailing by 10 entering the fourth quarter, the Falcons got within two points but no closer as Fairfax held on for a 51-44 win.

Evan Fletcher paced the Bullets (2-3) with 17 points and Reed Stygles and Riley Greene backed him with 10 points apiece to help the hosts escape with a win. Jacob Clawson’s 14 points led the way for Richford, with 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter in an attempt to complete the Falcon (3-4) comeback.

“Every win is going to be a grind, every game is going to be a grind this year,” said Bullet coach Dave Demar. “ Our last game was 14 days ago yesterday, our timing is a little off obviously, but a win is a win.”

Five straight points from Fletcher led the way to an 11-3 Fairfax lead midway through the opening quarter until Richford rolled off eight straight points to knot the score. A late basket from Luca Chayer gave the Bullets a 13-11 lead after one.

Bryce Fontaine opened the second quarter on a mission for Fairfax, draining consecutive threes and a runner. His eight uninterrupted points once again gave the Bullets a 10-point, 21-11, lead through the first 4:30 of the second quarter. Once again, the Falcons returned fire. Four free throws from Will Steinhour, a Clawson coast-to-coast basket, and a runner from Aske Greve evened things up at 22-22 before the Bullets closed the first half with five points for a 27-22 halftime lead.

“I told the boys we can’t get down whenever they get a lead, it just needs to make us play harder and get the nitty-gritty plays,” said Richford coach Brandon Fuller. “And they just played with a  lot of heart and it showed, we came back from deficits a few times.”

Neither team broke off a major run in the third quarter but BFA got the better of Richford. A pair of threes from Fletcher and five points from Stygles returned a 10-point, 40-30, lead to the Bullets entering the final frame.

Each quarter of Thursday’s game was impacted by an abundance of fouls, each team recorded an astonishing 25 on the evening. Fairfax somehow only lost one starter to a foul-out but four other players closed the night with four fouls each. Richford lost three starters to foul-outs at some time during the fourth quarter, complicating its comeback attempt. Neither team did a great job capitalizing on endless trips to the foul line – Richford made 17 of 30 foul shots while Fairfax was a disappointing 8 of 23.

Richford once again set out to cut into a 10-point Bullet lead in the fourth quarter. Clawson opened with a tough layup then took another one through traffic and drew a foul – making both shots. Carter Blaney followed with a tough layup of his own to cut the Fairfax lead to 40-36 with just over five minutes remaining. Greene put back an offensive rebound to get BFA on the board but Steinhour answered with a pair of free throws to keep the Falcon deficit at four points.

“Richford is decent, they’ve got some scrappy guards,” said Demar. “ (Clawson) is scrappy and we couldn’t stop the guy. (Greve) is a monster, they’re going to do well. And they’re Division IV, so I expect them to be on top of Division IV.”

The fourth quarter being no exception, Demar was visibly displeased with his team’s shot selection at various points while holding a lead Thursday. 

“You guys know teenagers, right?” Demar laughed after the game. “I’m glad everybody heard me because as soon as they get on the floor they forget. They see an open shot and they take it. It’s not a bad shot but we’ve got to know the timing of the shots.”

One late instance of questionable shot selection ended up putting the game away for BFA. His team holding a 45-42 lead with just over a minute left (and no shot clock in Vermont high school basketball), Stygles caught a pass in the middle of the lane and decided to lift a risky shot despite heavy defense from Richford. The look of worry on Demar’s face when the shot went off the back of the rim quickly vanished as Stygles collected his own rebound and put it in, drawing a foul in the process. Now up 47-42 with 1:15 left, BFA was able to close out the game.

“Reed’s an awesome kid,” Demar said, happy to forgive one rushed shot among many by his players Thursday. “He’s only a sophomore so we’re going to deal with those little mental mistakes because he’s giving us so much on both ends of the floor. He’s an anchor on our defense, he’s an inside presence on the offensive end.”

For Richford, Thursday offered plenty of positives and Fuller hopes it will serve as a building block for more success this season.

“I was happy with the way we played. I told the boys don’t dwell on it, we’ll face them again at home and hopefully, we’ll have a different outcome.”

Steinhour ended up with 13 points for the Falcons, Greve scored eight, and Blaney finished with seven. The Falcons are scheduled to return to action Saturday afternoon at Winooski. Fairfax is also slated to take on Winooski in its next game, hosting the Spartans on Tuesday.