CHESTER — Trailing 48-41 with 5:16 to play, Green Mountain rallied for a 59-56 win over Oxbow in a Division III playdown game Wednesday night at Nason Gym.
The win sends the eighth-seeded, 12-9, Chieftains into the quarterfinals Saturday in a 2 p.m. game at top seeded, 16-4 Williamstown.
Green Mountain has been to the tourney several times in the seven years that Brian Rapanotti has been coaching, but this was his first victory.
Oxbow, the ninth seed, finishes the season 8-13.
There were a myriad of reasons for the Green Mountain rally including vital Oxbow turnovers, but what might have been most important was the foul line. After missing six free throws in the first half, the Chiefs made six of seven in the fourth quarter.
The pace all night was hectic and the Chiefs kept digging themselves a hole with poor ball possession decisions and nobody to help off the offensive boards. They were also battling an Oxbow team that played tough schedule seven Division II games to just three for Green Mountain. Also the Chiefs had 13 Division IV games while the Olympians just three.
The Olympians also had a cat-like guard in the Bryce Isley who had an 18-point night and was a sniper on defense.
“He’s one of the fastest guards I’ve ever seen,” said Rapanotti.
To Green Mountain’s credit as the game progressed the turnovers were reduced and the shots started to drop.
“We just battled all night and never stopped playing hard,” said Rapanotti. “Sometimes that pace can get into trouble, but we kept getting after it.”
The game’s final moments were suspenseful as the GM lead was just 57-56 with 14.9 seconds to go. But GM had the ball on two consecutive Oxbow turnovers and on each turnover, GM was able to get one successful free throw from Anderson each time, the second one coming with 3.2 seconds to play. Oxbow did get a long shot of at the buzzer, but it was off the mark.
GM junior James Anderson came up big with a 19-point night, was Brooks Ordway-Smith had 13 and Ty Merrill 10.
Other double figure scorers for Oxbow were Zach Koslowsky with 13 and Matt Anderson with 12.