WILLIAMSTOWN — Top-seeded Williamstown advanced to the Barre Aud for the eighth straight year with Saturday’s 62-27 Division III quarterfinal victory over No. 8 Green Mountain.
The Blue Devils outscored the Chieftains 16-9 in the second quarter, helping coach Jack Carrier earn his 199th career victory. Carrier will shoot for No. 200 when Williamstown (17-4) takes on No. 4 Peoples Academy (17-5) in Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal.
“The top seven guys we throw out there saw a lot of minutes at the Aud last year and they’ll be pretty comfortable,” Carrier said. “And those guys experienced two games — it wasn’t just the semifinals and leaving. And this being senior year for a lot of the guys, it definitely helps.”
The Blue Devils went 19 of 21 from the foul line to help their cause against Green Mountain. Williamstown led 13-6 after one quarter before opening up a 29-15 halftime advantage. The Chieftains faced a 48-21 deficit at the start of the fourth quarter.
“Five minutes into the game we took control,” Carrier said. “Colby Gingras had a 3-pointer in the first quarter and Tyler Orton had a big 3-pointer in the second quarter that helped set us off too. We drove to the basket tonight and got them into early foul trouble, which helped a lot. And that was a big deciding factor in the first half. We were up by 14 points at halftime and the third quarter was even better.”
Tyler Orton scored a team-high 12 points for Williamstown, while teammate Jacob Tassie added 11 points, six rebounds and six assists. Colby Gingras and Ryan O’Neill (eight rebounds) contributed 11 points apiece for the Blue Devils. Garrett Metcalf added nine points and teammate Cole Banks went 6 of 6 from the foul line.
“We have a good crew of seniors, and it’s a mix of shooters and slashers,” Carrier said. “We’ve seen some kids take off at the end of the season, particularly Ryan O’Neill. He’s stepped up inside and he’s surprised a lot of teams we’re seeing right now. And some of these kids are getting mentally stronger. Today they were put in situations with hard, physical fouls. And they handled themselves well. I think that maturity is starting to pay of for us down the stretch.”
James Anderson scored nine points to lead Green Mountain (12-10). The Blue Devils did not play Peoples Academy in the regular season, but they’ve scouted the Wolves three times. Carrier and his players were in Morrisville Friday night when the Wolves erased a late 14-point deficit and beat Windsor in overtime.
“We’ve seen a mix of what they’ve thrown at people. They’re a good 3-point shooting team and they have some size with (Louis) Angione inside,” Carrier said. “It will be a good matchup for us. We will have to rebound and hit our free throws.”
Coach Carrier knows that winning a semifinal is more important that reaching any personal milestones, but he would still be thrilled to secure his 200th victory at the Barre Aud. The Blue Devils coach won a Division IV title with the team in 2010 before rattling off four straight D-III titles from 2013-2015. Williamstown also won the 2017 championship in addition to finishing runner-up in 2016 and 2018.
“The biggest thing has been getting a lot of players to buy into a system that we brought into Williamstown,” Carrier said. “We encourage them to be hungry, get aggressive and compete every day. I’ve got to coach a lot of good players, so it’s been a fun ride so far. And I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by a lot of good assistant coaches. The guys that I have — they’re so knowledgeable, they offer their insights and they never overstep their bounds. I’m pretty blunt and I address issues as I need to. But the guys on the team have assistant coaches that are really approachable, so they’ve been able to relay a lot of good messages to them.”
Hazen 52, White River 31
HARDWICK — Second-seeded Hazen overcame a sluggish offensive effort in the first half and quickly put the game out of reach in the third quarter of Saturday’s Division III quarterfinal.
Hazen led 8-6 after one quarter and entered halftime in front 17-14. Seventh-seeded White River started to unravel in the third quarter, falling behind 39-25. Freddy Larson scored all 13 of his points in the second half for Hazen.
“Freddy had an unbelievable game,” Hazen coach Aaron Hill said. “He had been up all night throwing up with a bad stomach flu. But he played anyway and he held their star scorer, Troy Walker, to five points.”
Isaiah Baker (16 points) and Elliott Kimball (11 points) also reached double-figures in the victory. Eddie Bray (eight points) paced White River (14-7).
“We didn’t shoot well early, but our defense wore them down and we finally made some shots in the second half,” Hill said.
Hazen (17-3) will face No. 3 Thetford (15-5) in Thursday’s 8:15 p.m. game at the Barre Aud. The Wildcats opened the season with a 60-53 victory over the Panthers on Dec. 13.
“Thetford knocked us out of the playoffs last year in the quarterfinals, so we know them pretty well,” Hill said. “They’re a very strong defensive team with some good big guys. So it should be a good game and I’m sure it will be a grind. We played them way back our first game of the year, but that’s a long time ago and a lot can change. That’s also when we had Cody Davidson before he got injured.”