GM girls play strong offense, but lose 53-50 with seconds remaining in 4th quarter

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By Evan Chadwick
©2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

If you like fast-pace offense, the Arlington 53-50 victory over the Chieftains in girls basketball action at home on Tuesday was the contest for you. For defensive minded coaches like Coach Jeffrey Buffum, the track meet he witnessed was not the type of basketball he wanted to see at this stage in the season.

“I am a defense guy,” said Buffum. “I have a hard time seeing the positives on the offensive side when we play defense like that.”

Green Mountain busted out of the gates with their patented tip-off play that earned them an easy bucket off a Kim Cummings’ layup. Arlington would answer right back with a layup of its own to tie the game at 2 just 30 seconds into the contest.

After a Karen Vargas free throw reclaimed the Green Mountain lead, the Eagles would rattle off five straight points to take a 7-3 lead.

The two-possession cushion was short-lived, as Cummings pulled up from well outside the 3-point arc and drilled a shot that cut the Eagle lead to one at 7-6.

Arlington would answer, closing the quarter on a 7-2 run to grab a 14-8 lead after the first.

In what may have been one of the most complete quarters of the Chieftains’ season to date, Green Mountain came out in the second and immediately took it to the Eagles, outscoring them 14-6 in the quarter.

Vargas started it off when she hit two free-throws after fighting inside for an offensive rebound. Luna Burkland’s hustle play, fighting for a loose ball,  then dishing it outside to Vargas for a corner jumper cut the deficit to 16-12 at the 5:30 mark.

Ainsley Merrill got in on the action with a transition layup that brought Green Mountain to within two and then Cummings gave Green Mountain the lead with another three off a Burkland dish.

After Arlington reclaimed the advantage on two free throws, in what was likely the offensive play of the match, Kyra Burbela stepped into a three point shot, absorbed contact and saw her shot hit nothing but net to give the Chieftains a 20-18 advantage at the break.

The 10-minute break did not cool down the Green Mountain offense as they came out of the gates with the same confidence that saw them stretch their advantage to as many as 8 points at 32-24. Arlington would hit a big 3-pointer at the end of the frame to pull within 5 heading into the fourth.

After Arlington started the final frame with an inside bucket to pull to within 3, Grace Tyrrell answered with a 3 to reclaim the two-possession advantage.

What the Green Mountain fans saw next was a back-and-forth contest between two offenses running on all cylinders. Arlington fired off 5 straight points in the next 60 seconds that tied the contest at 35. Cummings would immediately get the ball back, drive hard to the basket and finish the contested shot to again give Green Mountain the lead.

After Arlington hit a baseline jumper, Cummings would again find a lane and finish to give what eventually resulted in Green Mountain’s last lead of the contest. Arlington answered with a 6-0 run to take a 45-39 lead with three minutes remaining. Cummings again would have an answer going on a personal 5-0 run to bring the Chieftains to within one.

“Thankfully, Kim was a force on offense,” Buffum said.  “What we needed was for everyone to step up their defense, and that didn’t happen. You can’t give up that many points in a quarter (4th) and expect success. We got the points when we needed them, we just gave them right back at the other end.”

The Eagles would come down the floor and immediately hit a 3 that gave them a 4-point lead with under two minutes remaining. Layups by Tyrrell and Burkland tied the contest with one minute remaining. After a timeout, Arlington was able to draw up an inside play giving them a 50-48 advantage with 30 seconds to go.

The Chieftains were able to get a great look at the tying basket as Tyrrell drove to her left and floated a shot that rolled off the front of the rim. Arlington would clear the rebound and draw a foul and hit both free throws that sealed the victory and delivered their 4th win of the season.

In the end Cummings scored 22 points and Tyrrell took home 10.

The Chieftains, who now stand at 3-8, are next on tap to host Leland and Gray at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1.

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About the Author: Originally from Rochester, Vermont, Evan Chadwick is a practicing attorney who lives in Brattleboro with his family. He is a 2007 graduate of Keene State College and currently coaches the boys' varsity basketball team at Bellows Falls Union High School.

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