BARRE — Maybe West Rutland’s Madison Guay is just one of those rare players who could get out of a sick bed on Christmas Eve and put the ball through the hoop from anywhere. She came off the bench cold and nailed a 3-point field goal with the score tied 33-33 with 1:20 remaining in Saturday’s Division IV state championship game at Barre Auditorium. That proved to be the winning basket, with the Golden Horde going on to a 39-33 victory over Blue Mountain.
Guay said her coach, Carl Serrani, never has reservations about her taking the shot.
“Carl always looks at me and says, ‘knock it down.’ He always tells me to be confident in myself and it worked,” Guay said. “As soon as I let it go I felt it was going in.”
“She’s a good little shooter,” Serrani said.
Guay was replacing Kiera Pipeling, who had just left with an injury.
And with apologies to Army’s Glen Davis and Doc Blanchard, West Rutland’s Elizabeth Bailey and Kiana Grabowski were Ms. Inside and Ms. Outside.
Bailey was a force inside on both offense and defense. The 6-foot-1 sophomore had 12 points despite spending a good deal of time on the bench in foul trouble. She fouled out with 1:01 remaining.
Grabowksi had 10 points and her both of her 3-pointers came at critical junctures of the game when the Bucks were rallying and the Golden Horde appeared to be hearing footsteps.
The Horde took a 22-13 lead into halftime, but then the Bucks made their move. They cut it to 22-18 on a layup by Alivia Crum. That’s when Grabowski connected with a 3 to give the Horde some welcomed breathing room.
Earlier, Grabowski made a trey when the Bucks sliced the lead to 17-13.
“Nobody else was open and I just took it,” Grabowski said.
Grabowski said when the game was tied there was some panic initially.
“We panicked a little. I threw a bad pass and that was my bad. But then we got it together,” Grabowski said.
When Bailey fouled out, she put her hands on her head expressing disbelief that she was done.
“I was afraid of letting my team down,” Bailey said.
It was a great duel inside between two talented players, Bailey and Blue Mountain’s Lauryn Bailey.
“Lauryn is a phenomenal player. She finishes well around the rim. She played hard and I played hard,” Bailey said.
Alley led the Bucks with 14 points.
After Guay’s winning shot and with Bailey on the bench, Kasey Serrani came up big. She stole the ball, was fouled and sank one of her free throws. She also made two more free throws to put the game on ice and finished with seven points.
Bailey said the turning point of the season was the 56-50 victory at Proctor on Valentine’s Day.
“Until then we had been playing as individuals. That is when we came together as a team,” Bailey said.
“I am so proud of this team. We worked our butts off. It really does pay off,” Guay said.
NOTES: The Fair Haven girls basketball team that was in the Division II title game later in the day made a video wishing West Rutland good luck at their team breakfast. ... It was the Horde’s first crown since 2010. ... Blue Mountain also lost in the final last year, falling to Mount St. Joseph. ... The No. 3 Golden Horde finish 18-5. The No. 1 Bucks at 20-3...It was the Horde’s third state crown under coach Serrani. West Rutland players and some fans were wearing camo shirts as in “hunting Bucks.”