Lady Mustangs Ride Championship Momentum

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The Hardwick Mustangs AAU team captured the Kingdom Invitational crown over the weekend. Team members are, back row (left to right): Coach Caitlyn Davison, Coach Tyler Rivard, Sadie Gann, Autumn Dailey, Julia des Groseilliers, Kelsie Rivard and Head Coach Sue Rivard; front row, (left to right): Ava Baisley, Ella Renaud, Ari Nichols, Baylie Christensen and Taylor Thompson. Missing are Isabelle Gouin and Mya Lumsden.

HARDWICK – On the heels of the Hazen Union girls’ basketball team bringing home their first state championship in 33 years, the Hardwick Mustangs AAU team swept four games over the weekend to capture the Kingdom Invitational crown at Hardwick Elementary School.

Featuring many of the same faces of last month’s championship team, the Lady ‘Stangs swept the Barre City Ballers and Hartford Storm on Saturday and Thetford’s Blue Steal and Hartford Storm on Sunday to win the high school bracket.

The local tournament drew 80 teams competing in both boys’ and girls’ brackets ranging from fifth to eleventh graders. Games were played all over the area including Concord, St. Johnsbury, Danville, Lyndon, Craftsbury, Cabot, Twinfield, Hazen, and Hardwick Elementary.

The roster includes reigning Mountain League Freshman of the Year Kelsie Rivard, along with fellow starters Julia des Groseilliers and Mya Lumsden, and key reserves Isabelle Gouin, Taylor Thompson, Autumn Dailey, Ella Renaud, and Baylie Christensen from that Lady Cat championship team.

The roster is rounded out by Hazen’s Sadie Gann and Ari Nichols and Ava Baisley from Peoples Academy. Nichols is transferring to Hazen in the fall.

The Lady Mustangs conquered the oldest age bracket in the tournament with all freshmen, sophomores, and one junior. Gouin was only available to head coach Sue Rivard on Saturday and was also without her starting point guard Mya Lumsden the entire weekend.

“It was a pretty awesome weekend for sure. Mya and Isabelle have been working hard putting in some valuable minutes for us, so we weren’t sure what to expect without them, but all of the girls really stepped up!

“Our team is working hard and learning how to play without our senior leadership and the loss of a player like Caitlyn Davison,” said Rivard.

Davison wasn’t far away however, as she joined Wildcat great Tyler Rivard as an assistant to make up a Lady Mustang coaching staff with championship pedigree that is hard to match.

Rivard led the Hazen Union boys’ basketball team to a state title as a junior and graduated last spring as the only player in school history with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

Davison will also go down as one of the all-time greats in school history with nearly 1,200 career points and a school record 34 points in last month’s championship game at the Barre Auditorium.

Sue Rivard is still the all-time leading scorer at North Country with over 1,300 career points and the star-studded coaching staff have combined for 3,665 points in their storied high school careers. Rivard also was an assistant coach along with Alison Blaney and Dorothy Hill under Lady Cat head coach Randy Lumsden this past season.

“Having Tyler and Caitlyn stepping in to help coach with me has been an awesome experience as a mom, and the knowledge and skills they possess and how they are working one on one with the girls is such an incredible opportunity for the kids. It has been so much fun!” said Rivard.

The Lady ‘Stangs will be back in action at St. Michael’s College on May 18-19.

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