SWANTON — The MVU boys’ basketball team narrowly edged the Mount Abraham Eagles on Wednesday night after battling through four tight quarters.
“This game actually started with our loss to BFA. We watched footage after that game and saw we were out-hustled by a younger team. We stepped back and asked ourselves what was important to us and what we needed to do to step up and take care of our game,” said MVU senior Gabriel Unwin.
Unwin got MVU started, driving to the hoop to put the Thunderbirds on the board in the first possession. Within 30 seconds, the Eagles took the lead, which the teams traded throughout the quarter.
As the quarter waned, Boutah dished to Unwin, who scored, narrowing the lead to three; the teams ended the quarter with the Eagles holding an 18-14 lead.
In the second, the Eagles added to their lead early. Gabe Unwin’s three dropped the deficit to six with two minutes remaining, but the Eagles retained their lead, leaving for the half with a 28-22 advantage.
Fortunes turned in the second half; Mount Abraham, who had hit almost every shot in the first half, went cold in the second.
In the third, Patrick Walker drained a three to narrow the lead to one and force an Eagle time out. The MVU bench exploded with cheers as the Thunderbirds took the lead with four minutes on the clock, a lead they’d retain, leaving the third 36-33.
In the fourth, Cole Boutah found Unwin for an early bucket, giving the Thunderbirds their biggest lead of the game. The Eagles weren’t going down easily and tied the game late in the fourth.
Walker put the T-birds back on top with a three with 55 seconds on the clock. Unwin came up big with a block to give MVU possession, but with 10 seconds left, the crafty Eagles knotted the score 45-45.
It was Walker who broke the tie for the final time, driving to the hoop with three seconds on the clock and giving MVU the 47-45 lead and the win.
“We needed a win, so we put the effort in and did whatever it would take to get above the other team,” said Walker.
Matt Curtis, who’s recovering from an injury, was able to play increased minutes for the Thunderbirds on Wednesday.
“It feels great to be out there. I missed a lot of the beginning of the year; I’m still not playing as much as I would be, but I’m glad I got to have one last ride with the guys,” said Curtis.
MVU coach Matt Walker liked what he saw from Boutah and his bench.
“Cole Boutah gave us the lift we needed throughout the game; I’d say he was the player of the game. Mason Noble came off the bench and had contributions on defense, and we had a few minutes from Ian Digby that were important,” said Walker.
Boutah also felt the weight of the loss to BFA St. Albans on Sunday.
“We had a rough night against BFA, and we needed a rebound. We fought through and came back tonight. We’ve always been a comeback team, and sometimes that pays off,” said Boutah.
Gabriel Unwin led the Thunderbirds with 19; Patrick Walker had 18.