Young Trojans Turn a Corner in Big Week

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Tej Stewart (right) of Twinfield-Cabot drives toward the basket past Craftsbury’s Dylan Washer (No. 32) during action February 6 at Twinfield. The hosts beat their guests 69-40.

by Ken Brown

MARSHFIELD – The Twinfield-Cabot boys’ basketball team had three big wins over Craftsbury Academy (CA), Stowe, and BFA-Fairfax before giving a red-hot Danville team all they wanted last week as they improved to 9-5 on the season.

Freshman Tej Stewart poured in a game-high 20 points to lead the Trojans to a dominant 69-40 home win over CA last Monday. Meles Gouge added 12 points for Twinfield-Cabot and Brayden Cushing rounded out a balanced scoring attack with 10 in the win. Freshman Landon Miller led the Chargers with 17 points and Dylan Washer chipped in with 15 in the loss.

“I think we were a little rusty after a long layoff and started the game kind of slow, but picked it up in the second half and moved the ball much better. Credit to Craftsbury and how hard they played and Tej did a good job of fighting through it and attacked the basket really well after halftime,” said head coach Chris Hudson.

Senior T.J. Bernatchy had one of his best games of the season, scoring 14 big points on the interior to lead the Trojans to a 52-43 home win over Stowe on Tuesday night. Gouge and Stewart led the Trojan backcourt with 13 points apiece to take a commanding advantage into the break. Dylan Sautter’s game-high 23 points led the Raiders on a run in the second half before Bernatchy and the Twinfield-Cabot defense stiffened down the stretch. Chase Brown added 13 points for Stowe in the loss as they fell to 1-11 on the season.

“They’ve improved dramatically since we played them earlier in the season and T.J. gave us a nice spark on both ends of the court. We let them hang around in the second half and it almost came back to bite us, but T.J.’s defense was a nice catalyst for us and it led us on a nice run to close it out,” said Hudson.

Stewart continued to fuel the Trojan offense, scoring 20 points for the fourth time in five games in a big 59-55 road win over BFA-Fairfax on Friday. Gouge added a strong 16-point effort for Twinfield-Cabot and Eli Russell sealed the game late with a pair of clutch free throws. The Trojans connected on ten 3-pointers on the Bullet defense as they fell to 4-10 on the season.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Meles Gouge (right) of Twinfield-Cabot goes for possession of a loose ball against Roeann McLellan (No. 22) of Craftsbury during play at Twinfield February 6. Twinfield-Cabot won 69-40.

“We moved the ball and played really well for three and half quarters. Eli hit some big free throws in a pressure situation for us and Tej did some nice things throughout the game, but we expended way more energy than we should’ve had to in the final few minutes of that game. We are still a very young team and overall we’re very happy to come away with an important road win, but we need to continue to learn how to relax, play free, and close out big ball games,” said Hudson.

The Trojans could’ve used that extra energy the next day as Christian Young’s 23 points helped Danville escape with a hard fought 58-50 road win. Andrew Joncas added 16 points for the Bears as they improved to 9-5 with their fourth straight win. Stewart added another 20-point performance for Twinfield-Cabot in the loss and Gouge chipped in with 13. Hudson’s young squad survived their grueling week and remain the sixth seed in the current division IV standings, just percentage points behind No. 5 Mid-Vermont Christian and No. 4 Danville.

“Give them credit, they beat us, but I liked the way we battled back in the end after a long week of basketball with our fourth game in six nights. Our three best players logged over 100 minutes on the court this week and I’m just so proud of this team and how they are growing together throughout this season. I feel like we are two evenly matched teams, but Danville’s seniors did a great job of stepping up in crucial moments of that game. We have seven freshman on this team and we are learning as we go and will get another chance against them this week in a big game for us. We have a tight harmonious group of talented kids here and they are so fun to coach and I look forward to watching them continue to develop in some big games for us in the home stretch of the season,” said Hudson.

Twinfield-Cabot travels to Danville on Wednesday to complete the home-and-home rivalry and will host Oxbow on Friday night in a pair of pivotal Mountain League match-ups that will determine postseason seeding for the Trojans.

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