NEWPORT–Maybe it was because the roads were still bad, or maybe because there was no school that day I don't know, but it was a very quiet crowd at North Country that bared witness to a rough 48-28 loss for the Falcon girls basketball team at the hands of the St. Johnsbury Hilltoppers.
"We need to make a change within our system of what we expect and what happens out there so that we can play with teams," said coach Brown after the loss, "We were able to do that in the first, but we need to make some adjustments."
The Hilltoppers used their ability to shoot from long range to dismantle the Falcons, hitting early and often, starting in the first quarter.
Isabell Meinhart got the game going with her first three of the night and we were off to the races.
Gritty play in the St. Jay end resulted in a nice jumper for Desiree Coffin as she put the home team on the board.
Some nice passing got the Falcons their first lead of the game when Emma Joslin dished to Noelle Pinard who found Anna Bingham for the lay-up. Bingham then hit two from the line to make it a 6-3 game.
Hilltopper Bridgette Rankin missed both of her foul shots and then Pinard was able to go down and get the bucket and the foul, but missed the and-1.
St. Jay would add another three and Bingham would strike for two and things were looking good for North Country up 10-6 at the end of one.
Then the wheels started to come off.
The Academy went on nine point run and the Falcons could not hit anything more than rims, backboards, and St. Jay hands.
"I thought in the first we were content to just trade baskets with them," said St. Jay coach Jack Driscoll, "But, we made some adjustments, got some stops, and created a little separation."
NC was Finally able to find the bottom of the net on another nice passing play with Brinti Jewer feeding Kelsey O'Donnell who in turned sent the ball to Pinard who put in with 1:42 left in the quarter.
Casey Carbone put the final stamp on the quarter with the Hilltoppers' fifth three of the half and what was a four deficit lead was now a six point lead for the girls in green.
"We spend a lot of time on three point shooting. We've got three or four girls that can shoot three's and it is a big part of our offense," said Driscoll, whose team was nine for eighteen from behind the arch.
It was a much better scoring quarter in the third for North Country.
O'Donnell, Pinard, and Bingham each had four points, with Pinard's lay-up being the prettiest of the twelve as she streaked down the court and juked her way past an Academy defender for the bucket.
However it was an even better quarter for St. Johnsbury. They would go for fourteen points, led by a pair of Rankin threes.
The small guard stayed hot for the rest of the game as she would add another six in the fourth quarter for a team high twelve points.
At the end of the third a very telling moment occurred when St. Jay fired up shot with about two and a half seconds left. The shot hit the backboard and came down with plenty time for a rebound attempt and nobody on the North Country team made a play for the ball.
Driscoll could tell that the Falcons were out of sorts, saying that "you could see it in their body language" that they were not firing on all cylinders.
That off-style of play would continue into the fourth as St. Jay just put the boots to the Falcons, scoring sixteen points and allowing just a Bingham three and a Jewer foul shot.
Anna Bingham led all scorers with a game high thirteen points.
She also was able to hold the Academy's top dog Meinhart to just six points, earning praise for her defensive work
"Anna did a really nice job containing 24 (Meinhart), she really got after her," said Brown.
With two tough losses at home now behind them, the team will look to get back to its' winning ways when they travel to Hinesburg to take on CVU tomorrow at 6:30.