BARRE — It looked like Proctor had a serious case of the Barre Auditorium jitters from the start and West Rutland played as though the venerable gym was its home away from home in Wednesday night’s girls basketball Division IV semifinal. West Rutland earned a 40-28 victory and the Golden Horde will be chasing their first state crown since 2010 when they go against No. 1 Blue Mountain on Saturday at noon here at Barre Auditorium.

It was in the first half when the Phantoms looked most uncomfortable.

“We did not have very good decision making. We tried to make the hard pass when the easy pass was there. We did that a lot,” Proctor coach Chris Hughes said.

West Rutland coach Carl Serrani had Kiera Pipeling as his primary ball handler much of the first half and that was another major difference. She handled the ball well and advanced it smartly and when the half was over the Horde was sitting atop a 19-8 lead.

The Phantoms, conversely, had all kinds of problems against Westside’s pressure.

The Phantoms looked much more confident after the break and made a run where they cut the lead to four.

“When they got it down to four I said, ‘Holy cow,’” Serrani said.

The Horde took a 28-21 lead into the fourth quarter but then things got dicey for the No. 3 seeded team.

Proctor’s Maddie Flanders scored inside and then teammate Maggie McKearin made both of her free throws. Another free throw by Allie Almond cut it to 30-26 and the crowd was in a frenzy.

But the Horde quickly got their cushion back. Pipeling began 8-0 run with a free throw and the Horde was on its way to the showdown with the Bucks for the state title.

“We knew they would make a run. It is what we talked about at halftime,” Pipeling said.

“It’s always a game of runs,” Serrani said.

And when the Phantoms made theirs, the Horde handled it just fine.

Elizabeth Bailey led the Horde with 10 points and also grabbed four rebounds. She blocked a shot early and her defensive presence inside kept the Phantoms from generating any offense down low.

Pipeling and Samantha Callhan added eight points each. Madison Guay had only three but it was a big 3-pointer coming at a critical time.

Leading the Phantoms was Flanders with 10 points. Rachel Stuhlmueller added four points to go with six rebounds. Lyndsey Elms had 10 rebounds for the Phantoms.

“We watched the Blue Mountain game (in the semifinals) on our phones and computers. I think it will be a good game. We just have to play our games,” Pipeling said.

“Blue Mountain is solid. It will be a good game,” Serrani said.

The Golden Horde struggled from the line (9 of 26) but was on target from the floor, going 15 for 31.The Phantoms were 10 of 35 from the floor for 29 percent.

West Rutland takes a 17-5 record into the championship game.

The No. 2 Phantoms finish at 17-5.


Follow Tom on Twitter: @RHSportsGuy

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