BARRE — Ryleigh Coloutti exploded for 19 points, Kerigan Disorda was the centerpiece of an incredible defensive effort and Courtney Brewster did her usual heavy lifting on the boards. It added up to a Division II state title for the Fair Haven girls basketball team with a 38-31 victory over Lake Region on Saturday at Barre Auditorium.
The Slaters were in a dogfight at halftime, clinging to a 24-22 lead.
But a suffocating defense held the Rangers to just three points in the third quarter, enabling Fair Haven to head into the final stanza with a 32-25 lead.
Then things got sticky. The Rangers cut the lead to 32-30. o]i
The Slaters recovered. Disorda made a free throw and Katrina Bean dropped in two more to give the Slaters a 35-30 lead with 1:28 left in the game.
When Coloutti made two free throws with 41 seconds to go to extend the lead to 38-31, the 2019 title was as good as chiseled in slate.
Coloutti had 19 points and canned four 3-point field goals.
Coloutti was also a tenacious defender, coming up with steals and getting her hands on passes.
“We talked about locking down on defense at halftime,” Coloutti said. “I didn’t play well the last time up here (in Wednesday’s semifinal) so I was excited to come back and play well.”
Following Coloutti in scoring was Brewster with six points and Disorda and Kyleigh Grenier with four each. Brewster corralled 10 rebounds.
Lake Region’s headliner,Tia-Marie Martinez, was kept in check by Disorda. Martinez still led the Rangers with 10 points and Robin Nelson added eight.
Disorda always draws the opponent’s top perimeter player. She said guarding players like Rutland’s Elise Magro and Windsor’s Olivia Rockwood helped prepare her for this assignment.
“I knew she was a good ball handler and that she was fast,” Disorda said of Martinez. “She is an amazing player. Guarding players like that is only going to make me a better player.”
“Martinez hit a long 3 in the first half and I told Kerigan that we were going to have to get out on her further than we wanted to and trust our help defense,” Fair Haven coach Kyle Wilson said. “When she did get by Kerigan, which wasn’t often, the help was there.”
That long 3 by Martinez that Wilson spoke of was from about 24 feet and sent the Rangers into a 17-17 tie.
But Coloutti stole the ball a couple of possessions later, drove most of the floor and popped one in from 12 feet to get the lead back for the Slaters.
No. 3 Fair Haven finishes at 19-5 and No. 4 Lake Region also at 19-5.
The Rangers started fast. Natalie Racine had two inside hoops to make it 4-0.
Coloutti retaliated with her first trey but Jordyn Ingalls drilled a 3 for the Rangers and they were up 7-3.
Coloutti had another 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the quarter and that ended with the Slaters holding an 8-7 lead.
Martinez had a 3 and then scored by driving hard to the basket to give the Rangers a 12-8 lead.
The Slaters were able to go to the locker room with a two-point lead thanks to a late bucket from Disorda, and it was there they tweaked the defense enough to keep the Rangers from scoring until very late in the quarter.
The Rangers still had a pulse, though, when Racine converted a free throw to slice the lead to 35-31 with over a minute to play.
But all the scoring from that point were three free throws from Coloutti.
NOTES: The Slaters also won the state crown in 2016. Jessica Brewster and Halle Coloutti, sisters of Ryleigh and Courtney on this year’s title team, were on that 2016 championship squad. ... Fair Haven’s Kim Sweeney had one of the great all-time performances at Barre Auditorium in 2001 when she scored 58 points in the two games. The Slaters lost that year to Bellows Falls in the final, 51-48. ... Playing their final game for the Slaters were seniors Sydney Rathbun, Kaleigh Brown and Bean.