BURLINGTON — Jacob Lorman scores just four points and Rutland wins?
You bet. And now Rutland High School goes for three state titles in a row.
A big first half set the tone and balance was the guiding light throughout in Rutland’s 62-51 victory over Mount Mansfield in the Division I semifinals Monday night at University of Vermont’s Patrick Gym.
Rutland will play St. Johnsbury on Sunday with a chance to finish a three-year stretch at 65-6. The Raiders and St. Jay split during the regular season.
Jamison Evans led the way with 21 points but played the closer rather than the force that put Rutland ahead, scoring 14 points after the break. Lorman, who has been Rutland’s high scorer frequently this season, was just 2 for 9 from the field Monday, but the Raiders made sure that did not matter.
Eric Coughlin, Evan Pockette and Ethan Notte were a force in the first 16 minutes, leading Rutland to a 31-23 lead that was never chopped to fewer than four points. They combined for 22 points for the half and 35 for the game.
“That (first half) was huge because if they don’t score we probably go into the half behind,” said coach Mike Wood.
Coughlin had another big playoff game with 14 points. Notte added 11 and Pockette 10 while Lorman filled other needs with two steals, five rebounds and five assists, plus the last bucket off a turnover to seal the victory.
Rutland is now 19-4 while No. 2 Mount Mansfield finished 18-5 with its second loss to the Raiders this season.
Asa Carlson and Becket Hill had 14 points apiece for the Cougars, whose campaign has ended at Rutland’s hands the last four seasons.
The Raiders had a strong first half even without the benefit of a transition game that the Cougars denied with good ball control. MMU turned over the ball only once to Rutland’s two.
But the Raiders made up for it with Pockette and Notte striking for treys from different locations and Coughlin very active inside. As in the quarterfinals, Coughlin provided consistent offensive rebounding; he had eight boards on the offensive glass and 12 overall. He had three offensive boards that were cashed in before halftime — on his own stickback, a trey by Evans and yet another from Notte.
Coughlin had a strong second half despite playing part of it in foul trouble.
Notte’s 11 points led the way and were keyed by the lefty’s 3-point shooting at a 3-for-4 clip before halftime.
Carlson’s 3-for-6 shooting for 11 points kept the Cougars from falling well behind.
Rutland, which was outscored handily inside by the Cougars in their December meeting, had 10 points in the paint to six for MMU. For the night they had 30 points in the paint to MMU’s 18.
Sunday’s game will begin at 2 p.m.
St. Johnsbury 55, Rice 54
Rice erased a 13-point second-half deficit only to see Alex Carlisle decide the game with an elbow jumper with three seconds to play, lifting St. Johnsbury into the finals over the top-seeded Green Knights.
That was in response to a Michel Ndayishimiye jumper seconds early that gave Rice the lead.
The teams split during the regular season.
Carlisle finished with 13 for 17-7 St. Jay. Logan Wendell had 16 as the No. 5 Hilltoppers overcame a 25-point night by Leo Chakin.
It was the first one-point game in a Division I semifinal since 1986 when, coincidentally, St. Jay beat Rice, 60-59 in overtime.
The Hilltoppers won their last state title in 1997.