**Each week, the County Courier sports staff will answer one “Question of the Week” in regards to the high school sports scene. This is our first week doing this and will continue each week going forward for the rest of the winter season. Check back each Thursday to see what question we are answering and don’t forget to pick up a copy of the County Courier on Thursdays**

What team or player(s) has impressed you the most through the first half of the winter sports season?

Ben Kaufmann

With a very honorable mention to the Richford boy’s basketball team, I have to go with the Bobwhite basketball program out of BFA-St. Albans. Nobody was happier than I was to see BFA return to the Metro League after more than a decade of cruising through the regular season only to lose to a lower seed in the playoffs (4-5 in home playoff games and 0-12 in 8/9 or 4/5 playoff games since joining the Lake League). I wrote in January that there was a strong chance this would be the first time BFA entered the postseason as a double-digit seed since 2005 but they would be better prepared to win once there. It wasn’t a crazy assumption, you don’t just jump into the Metro and win a lot. And, though its balance is a point of pride, the Bobwhites don’t have a scorer who can take over a game with 30 points. BFA has won three of four Metro games this far against the likes of BHS, SBHS and MMU and currently sits fifth in Division I. If that sentence seemed unlikely to me a month ago, learning that BFA’s lone loss was by four points on the road at No. 1 St. Johnsbury would have really blown my mind. 

A massive test against No. 2 Rice, which will be hungry after taking its first loss of the season to St. Johnsbury in a 20-point drubbing on Tuesday, is slated for Friday night in St. Albans. I have questions about how the Bobwhites are going to score against the top-tier teams, but they can stop anyone from scoring and, for the first time in about 15 years, they’ll be feared by whoever draws them in the postseason. First-year coach Tristan Menard carries a calm demeanor to the sideline and picked his assistants brilliantly. The team appears to be having a blast and it’s a group of hard-nosed players who compliment each other well. If you haven’t had a chance to see Bobwhite basketball, this Friday at 7:30 would be a good way to start.

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)

Anthony Labor

How about the job that goalie tandem of sophomore Makenna Montgomery and freshman Erin Jackson has done so far for the BFA-St. Albans girls hockey team? Last year with senior Macie Boissonneault on the team and the season being shortened due to the pandemic, Montgomery only saw one period of action. With Jackson joining the fray this year, I was interested to see a new tandem in between the pipes for the Comets and they have not disappointed, as they have helped the Comets jump out to a 10-0 start. Sure the Comets are averaging just under seven goals a game, which does help, but some of those lopsided wins were in games when they didn’t run away with it until the third period, so it was up to the goalies to keep them either ahead or tied early on. Both Montgomery and Jackson have made timely saves when the games were close to allow the team a chance to break away at the end and have both come up with arguably both of their biggest performances over each of their last outings. Montgomery has gone 5-0 during her starts so far and stopped 102 of 113 shots she has faced so far this year. Montgomery stopped 22 of 24 shots during her last outing against a very good Plattsburgh, N.Y. team on Monday, which ended up being a 3-2 Comet victory. She stopped 21 of 22 shots in a 3-1 win over Potsdam, N.Y. in the opening weekend of the season. She stopped 26 of 29 shots to help lead the team to a 5-3 win over Spaulding (who had previously been undefeated) last week.

Jackson has gone 5-0 in her starts stopping 71 of 77 shots she has faced, including a shutout. She picked up her first career shutout on Wednesday when she stopped 14 of 14 shots in a 3-0 BFA win over Burlington/Colchester. She had a big game against Rutland earlier this season when she made 20 saves on 21 shots in a 7-1 victory. What looks like a blowout now, was actually a 1-1 game going into the final minutes of the second period before the team pulled away late. Without big saves from Jackson through the first two periods, who knows how the game turns out? This is an overall very talented BFA squad who have a number of offensive weapons and solid defense. But for Montgomery only seeing one period of varsity action before this season and Jackson coming in as a freshman, I have been very impressed with how well they have both done right out of the gate coming up with big saves along to way to help the Comets jump out to their 10-0 record and they have consistently shown improvement and they’re growing confidence as the season has progressed so far in what should be another very good goalie tandem for the Comets program.

Comet goalie Makenna Montgomery makes a glove save during last week’s game against Spaulding. The sophomore has made 102 saves on 113 shots and has gone 5-0 in her starts so far this season. (Anthony Labor Jr. Photo)
BFA-St. Albans goalie Erin Jackson tracks the puck during a game against Rutland earlier this season. The freshman has stopped 71 of 77 shots faced this year and gone
5-0 in her starts for the Comets. (Anthony Labor Jr. Photo)

Landon Potvin

The Hornets from Enosburg Falls High School have been outstanding. The key returners for the Hornets are forwards Emily Adams and Allison Bowen. A key addition to the team is a transfer from BFA-St. Albans senior Alexis Kittell, brings Division I defense to the team and energy/intensity that trickles down to the last player on the bench. The Hornets have also welcomed sophomore Lilly Robtoy, who has learned so much from her peers above her. Robtoy’s defense is a force to be reckoned with and she is very crafty with the ball and manages to get through the lane quite effortlessly. Enosburg also has an exchange student, Abril Ciurana, who can bring a spark off the bench as a confident scorer even if she’s still adjusting to the changes from different rules overseas..

The unbeaten Hornets (10-0) are outscoring opponents by an average of 54-29. They sit in first place in Division II and have already beaten second-place Lyndon by double-digits. Enosburg owns a recent win over Division I Colchester, though a matchup with Kittell’s former BFA team was postponed. Always tense tests against North Country await but Enosburg has proved it’s worthy of sitting atop the Division. What could be considered Enosburg’s best player doesn’t even play on the court. The fans are one of a kind and travel very well. The chants are consistent throughout the game, even in blowout victories. The energy that they create carries onto the floor and is intimidating to the opposition.

“We have good leadership on this team,” said Enosburg head coach Gary Geddes. “I basically have four point guards out there, and I can’t say too much about our defense; I mean the girls, led by Pippa (Kittell), Emily, Allie, Kayla, and Lilly. I would not want to face them; you can see it in the opponent’s eyes when they get after it.”

Enosburg senior Alexis Kittell dribbles toward the hoop during Tuesday’s game against MVU. Kittell has helped lead the Hornets to a 10-0 start to begin the season. (Anthony Labor Jr. Photo)