BARRE — Danville was all over the offensive glass in the first half, piling up second-chance points in taking a 27-14 lead into the locker room. It was a springboard to a 61-48 victory over Proctor in Monday night’s Division IV semifinal game and it sends the Indians into Saturday’s state championship game against either Poultney or Twin Valley.
“That’s the guy, right there, No. 21,” said Danville coach Jason Brigham, pointing at Garrett Sinclair on the way to the post-game locker room, crediting him with that decisive edge on the boards.
Sinclair and newly minted 1,000-point scorer Ian Steele owned the boards for the Indians.
Steele’s athleticism was showcased with 2:45 remaining when he put a scintillating move on a defender and then exploded to the hoop to bump the score to 53-40, putting the game away.
Danville goes back to the Barre Auditorium in search of its first title since 2014, when the Indians defeated Twin Valley 50-43 with a memorable fourth-quarter comeback.
Proctor coach Jake Eaton felt the explanation for the loss was simple — poor shooting by the Phantoms from the floor and the foul line. Proctor went just 13 of 27 from the line and misfired on 3-point attempts, normally a staple of the Phantoms’ offense.
The teams met early in the year in Danville, with the Indians earning a 38-32 victory.
Brigham said his team learned some things from playing the Phantoms but did not regard that as a big factor.
“We see each other in the summer. It’s Vermont basketball; there are no secrets,” Brigham said.
Steele finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Tim White added 11 points and Sinclair followed with seven. Tito Chamul grabbed 11 rebounds for the Indians.
Conner McKearin led the Phantoms with 15 points and Joe Valerio had 11. Proctor’s hard-working center Nate Greb hauled in 10 rebounds.
Steele said the Indians’ edge in rebounding was typical.
“We are a good rebounding team. We all help each other out,” Steele said.
“We just didn’t make our shots in the first half,” Eaton said. “We got good shots. We got the shots that we wanted but they just did not go down.
“I thought we played hard ... I was happy with the effort.”
The Phantoms were 15 of 42 from the floor compared to the Indians’ 20 for 43. Danville was also much better at the line, going 17 of 24.
Danville looked to be home free with a 39-21 lead late in the third quarter but the Phantoms got back in the fray with a 10-0 run that was triggered by four quick points from Valerio and a buzzer-beater by McKearin.
The Phantoms got it all the way down to eight (39-31) on a hoop by Brennon Crossmon before White stopped the run with a pair of free throws.
“We clawed our way back but then we would miss our free throws and they would make theirs,” Eaton said.
The No. 1 Indians take an 18-6 record into the title clash. The opponent will be determined when Poultney and Twin Valley meet at The Aud on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.