RICKER

Montpelier’s Tyler Ricker searches for an open teammate during a boys basketball game against Lyndon last year.

Vermont high school boys basketball fans have gotten used to Rutland being a top contender in Division I across the last decade.

The Ravens have made it to at least the D-I semifinals eight times since 2011.

It may be too early to tell if Rutland can make it a ninth trip, but the early returns are certainly promising.

In the Ravens opener against Fair Haven last Thursday, they put on display just how special this team could be.

Rutland grabbed the momentum early and won going away against the defending Division II state champions. The Ravens went up against one of the best backcourts Vermont has to offer and they kept it in check.

Meanwhile, supporting players from last year’s team like Eli Pockette and Jack Coughlin more than showed they are ready for an increased role this season.

A blowout win against an improving Mount Anthony team on Monday continued to build the Ravens’ case to be near the top of the initial Rutland Herald/Times Argus boys basketball power rankings for the abbreviated 2021 season.

Montpelier lost in the D-II state finals last year to Fair Haven, but the Solons have come back with a vengeance this year. A win against a Division I power like St. Johnsbury and taking care of business in their other games puts them atop the D-II heap for now.

A state semifinalist last year, Hazen won comfortably in all three of its games through Monday. Division IV champion Proctor holds the same early-season distinction. Both are atop their respective divisions in our rankings as a result.

Let’s jump into the rankings, with records and analysis up through Monday’s games.

1. Rice (2-0) — The defending Division I champions continue to win. South Burlington gave them a scare in their second game, but they did what winning teams do and pulled it out. Michel Ndayishimiye’s 44 points certainly helped too.

2. Rutland (2-0) — A blowout win against an elite club in Fair Haven can’t be ignored. The Ravens have a deep roster that could make a ton of noise as the season progresses.

3. Essex (2-0) — Wins against Middlebury and Burlington are nice, but we’ll find out a lot about this team in the coming weeks. CVU, Rice and South Burlington are all big names left on the Hornets’ schedule.

4. Montpelier (3-0) — The Solons are playing some of the best basketball in the state. An opening night win against rival U-32 was a good start, but a blowout win against D-I St. Johnsbury took it to another level. A deep playoff run could be in store.

5. South Burlington (1-1) — The Wolves were inches away from knocking off the defending champs. They were beating Rice for much of the first half. If they can finish the job moving forward, this team is dangerous.

6. Colchester (2-1) — The Lakers have had to scratch and claw in every game this season, with all of their games through Monday decided by four points or less. Playing South Burlington and St. Johnsbury this week could be their toughest stretch.

7. Fair Haven (2-1) — A blowout loss to rival Rutland was a setback but it gave the Slaters a look at what they need to do to get back to the championship stage. Supporting players stepping up in a bounceback win against Mount St. Joseph on Monday is a great sign for Fair Haven.

8. CVU (2-1) — A state semifinalist last year, the Redhawks are looking to maintain their spot in that elite group. The early returns are solid, but CVU would love to grab a signature win in the next week for so.

9. Milton (2-0) — If Montpelier and Fair Haven are the top of Division II, the Yellowjackets are doing everything they can to enter that conversation. Milton made quite the statement when it blew out a very strong D-I BFA-St. Albans team.

10. Hartford (4-0) — The Hurricanes are racking up a bunch of early wins, including a 16-point triumph over 3-1 Bellows Falls and against a Windsor club that took BF to the limit on Monday.

Division II

1. Montpelier (3-0); 2. Fair Haven (2-1); 3. Milton (2-0); 4. Hartford (4-0); 5. MSJ (1-1).

Division III1. Hazen (3-0); 2. Green Mountain (4-0); 3. Bellows Falls (3-1); 4. Thetford (1-1); 5. Winooski (2-0).

Division IV

1. Proctor (3-0); 2. Danville (3-0); 3. West Rutland (3-1); 4. Twinfield (2-0); 5. Poultney (3-1).

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