SWANTON - It was a battle to the buzzer as the MVU Thunderbirds hosted the Vergennes Commodores on Wednesday, Jan. 12, falling 47-44 to the visiting team.

The game was MVU'S senior game, and seniors from the basketball and cheer programs were recognized, including senior basketball players Ian Digby and Hayzen Luneau, who led the Thunderbirds' scoring 10 points each.

"Ian Digby came out and really gave us a chance. He had a career-high tonight, and Bryce (King) hit a three, and that gave us confidence," said MVU coach Matt Walker. "I was incredibly proud of the guys."

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MVU jumped out to an 8-3 lead at the midpoint of the first quarter as Digby, Luneau, and Bryce King scored. However, Vergennes eventually took the lead, holding a 15-13 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Both teams had opportunities to score on turnovers early in the second, but tight defense kept the teams from scoring until Luneau notched MVU's first points, tying the game midway through the second.

Caleb Surprise put the T-birds on top late in the frame, but the Commodores capitalized on a late-quarter layup to take an 18-17 lead at the half.

The teams traded the lead in the third as Luc Fournier and Maliki Unwin-Jackson exchanged threes with the Commodores in the quarter's final seconds. Unwin-Jackson also took over the T-birds' defensive rebounding, giving MVU a boost on the boards. MVU left the quarter with a 31-29 advantage.

Ray Fournier scored immediately for MVU in the fourth, but the Commodores took a one-point lead midway through the quarter as the momentum shifted in their favor. Luc Fournier's free throws bounced the lead back to MVU, and Ray Fournier's And-1 gave the Thunderbirds a four-point advantage. Unwin-Jackson drained a deep three with three minutes to go, but T-bird fouls cracked the door for the determined Commodores.

As the clock fell below two minutes, the Commodores tied the game, taking the 45-43 lead with 1:26 remaining. Connor Nielsen brought MVU within one point on free throws, but the Vergennes scored on the game's final possession to secure the win.

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Walker was glad to have his team back on the court, "I thought we'd only have five or six guys eligible to play today, and some of them I haven't seen since Christmas. I was impressed with their effort and how hard they came out and how well they played."

When asked about this year's seniors, Walker spoke of the hand they've been dealt during the pandemic, "It's been a tough career for these guys; they haven't had a normal season in over two years.

"I'm impressed that they keep playing as hard as they do. Hayzen has improved tremendously, and Ian was our 12th guy last year-- now he's a starter, so I'm impressed with that."

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