Rivard Powers Wildcats to Third Straight

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photo by Vanessa Fournier
Hazen Union junior Xavier Hill (No. 11) drives the ball up the court past Graden Conger (No. 2) of Lamoille during a home game February 15. At left in the back is Jadon Baker (No. 4). The Wildcats defeated the Lancers 63-52.

by Ken Brown

HARDWICK – Most humans would exhale after reaching a career milestone with an improbable 40-point 22 rebound performance, but senior center Tyler Rivard did the exact opposite this past week, combining for 68 more points and 37 rebounds in leading his Hazen Union boys’ basketball team to a pair of wins over Division II Lamoille and Lake Region.

Rivard pumped in a game-high 30 points and hauled in 18 rebounds to help the Wildcats outlast a pesky Lamoille team at home last Wednesday 63-52. Sophomore Brendan Moodie (12 points) connected on four 3-pointers to help fuel a 28-6 run by the Wildcats to start the game, but the Lancers fought back to cut the lead to 10 at the break. Junior point guard Xavier Hill chipped in with seven as Hazen played Lamoille even the rest of the way to gut out another tough Capital League win. Gabe Locke paced the Lancers with 14 points and Malcolm Ernst added 12 in the loss as they fell to 4-13 on the season. Rivard was coming off a historic performance Monday night, where he reached 1,000 career points in a huge divisional win over Thetford Academy.

“We suffered from both mental and physical fatigue going into this match-up with Lamoille. Our intensity and execution as a team were not where they usually are. Our free throw percentage isn’t where I want it to be yet, but I’m less concerned with our percentage than I am about how many we are shooting throughout the game. We need some of our players other than Tyler to get to the line more often. We need to attack the basket more as a team, which should get us to the line more frequently,” said head Coach Aaron Hill.

Rivard capped off his historic week with 38 more points and 19 rebounds through just three quarters of work in an 83-32 road rout of Lake Region on Friday night. Senior Jadon Baker added eight points, eight assists, and four steals and Hill complimented with 11 points and five assists in the win. The Wildcats took a 41-16 advantage into the break and opened the second half on a 23-11 run to leave little doubt of the outcome. Schuyler Butterfield led the Rangers with 11 points in the loss as they fell to 2-15 on the season.

“After a slow first quarter, we bounced back nicely and played much better. As we get ready for the playoffs, we want to clean up our zone offense and defensive rotations,” said Hill.

Rivard has averaged 36 points and just under 20 rebounds during the Wildcats current three game winning streak and they have cemented themselves as the No. 2 seed in the Division III rankings behind undefeated Winooski. His 25 point 16.5 rebound average this season has made his senior campaign truly legendary. He has set several school records along the way this winter and his upcoming Senior Night this week with his fellow teammates in front of the Wildcat faithful will undoubtedly be one to remember.

Hazen Union traveled to rival Williamstown on Monday and will wrap up the regular season at the Cat Den against Randolph on Senior Night.

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