Justin Brown goes up for a tough shot against Colchester on Friday (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)


By Ben Kaufmann

ST. ALBANS – 13 points apiece from Thomas Demar and Seth Richards were every bit as valuable as a pair of warranted-but-foolish technicals by Colchester in the fourth quarter of a tight game Friday as BFA-St. Albans eliminated an eight-point deficit late in the third quarter to earn a 53-47 win.

Two of Richards’ points came on a monstrous dunk off an unselfish pass from Demar with BFA down 40-32 and a little over a minute left in the third quarter. From that point, the Bobwhites (8-6) outscored Colchester 19-7 and picked up the win in front of a raucous home crowd.

“It was awesome, the crowd went nuts,” Bobwhite coach Tristan Menard said of Richards’ mighty finish. “Seth’s feeling good, the team’s feeling good, they (Colchester) were deflated a little bit. The biggest thing is not to get too high, when you get too high you make a lot of mistakes but they were able to bring it back down to a reasonable level – still be hyped up a little bit but be composed.”

Following this third-quarter dunk from Seth Richards, BFA-St. Albans outscored Colchester 19-7 en route to a 53-47 victory over the Lakers on Friday night (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)

The teams combined for five three-pointers in the first quarter as Colchester (6-9) took a 14-10 lead into the second. Richards and Demar helped BFA rally strongly in the second, combining for 11 points as the hosts built a 26-21 halftime lead.

The Lakers came out on fire after the break, outscoring BFA 16-4 over the first five minutes of the frame. A free throw apiece from Justin Brown and Liam Howrigan had BFA’s deficit down to 37-32 before CHS hit a three to take a 40-32 lead with two minutes remaining in the third. Almost a minute later, Demar had an open look in the corner but noticed Richards cutting, unobstructed, and found him for an open but powerful dunk which sent the crowd into a frenzy.

“He played with passion,” Menard said of Richards. “I think we saw it on his first finish where he got up and almost dunked it, I could tell right then that he had a little extra bounce today. He did get a dunk and offensive rebounds and putbacks, he helped us a lot.”

The BFA-St. Albans crowd reacts to a Seth Richards dunk on Friday night (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)

By the time the fourth quarter began, BFA’s deficit was just 40-37 and Colchester was showing signs of frustration. A quick post-up for the Lakers to open the frame was met with another Demar-to-Richards basket and a Charlie Yates free throw to get BFA within two, down 42-40.

Colchester assistant Jeff Davis – he of tremendous success over a storied coaching career at Mt. Mansfield – was filling in as head coach Friday and brought the intensity which served him so well as the Cougar’s coach. Maybe time away from the head of the table made the line a little blurry, but just moments after BFA’s Connor Leach took a charge for a CHS player’s fourth foul and the player earned a technical, Davis crossed the line and earned his own technical. When Leach took the charge, BFA trailed 42-40, but the Bobwhites held a 44-42 lead soon after Davis was asked to take a seat.

BFA only made two of four technical free throws in that run, its other two points coming from a Richards offensive rebound and putback, but the Bobwhites never showed any hint of wanting to get involved in the circus at the Laker end of the floor and it served them well.

“That’s growth,” Menard said. “Growth and maturity, so credit to them. Now we’ve just got to be consistent with it.”

Yates had a free throw and post-up on either side of a CHS basket to give BFA a lead then push it to three points. Colchester was certain to counter on a wide-open backdoor cut, but Noah Earl raced back with an emphatic block of that shot, then drew a foul and hit both shots to give his Bobwhites a 49-44 lead with 2:17 left. The Lakers answered with three straight points to get within two but Demar scored after a nice run of Bobwhite passing and, after a crucial defensive rebound by Earl, BFA ran 20 seconds off the clock. Leach iced the game with a pair of free throws with 14 seconds to go.

Less than 24 hours removed from a win at an Essex team which had run BFA ragged a few days prior, the Bobwhites again proved resilient in winning a second game in as many days.

“The last two games have been a struggle,” said Menard. “Going on back to back nights it’s not going to be pretty. Especially this time of year, it’s not pretty anyway, right? Both games they went through having decent leads, Essex a little more than tonight, but then just giving up the lead and just coming back.”

Yates finished with 10 points and Earl with eight, though both players likely did the most for BFA on the boards and at the defensive end of the floor. Leach finished with five points, Howrigan scored three and Brown scored one.

It was a full house taking in Friday’s thriller, due in no small part to the celebration of BFA’s senior night. A packed house saw tribute paid to seven senior players – Leach, Damon Tipton (who was lauded by Menard as “The funniest guy in the world”), Dakota Wry, Yates, Tanner Smith, Demar, Brown – and manager Brayden Baker.

Thomas Demar drives the baseline in the fourth quarter of BFA’s win over Colchester on Friday (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)

Menard said the class of 2022 has been especially helpful in getting the first-year coaching staff quickly acclimated as BFA moved to the challenging Metro League for the first time in nearly two decades.

“The leadership that they bring, even the guys that don’t get significant minutes, the leadership that they bring all the time is significant,” he said. “This is a reset for us this year as new staff, new program, new philosophies. They’re laying the groundwork for, hopefully, years to come. I’m definitely proud of what they bring.”

BFA returns to action Monday at Burlington.

The BFA-St. Albans bench reacts to an acrobatic play by Noah Earl late in Friday’s win over Colchester (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)