Two years doesn’t seem like much, but that long away from Patrick Gymnasium must have felt like an eternity for the Burlington High School basketball team.
The most decorated program in the state ended the drought with a 61-42 victory over Mount Anthony in a Division I quarterfinal at Buck Hard Gym on Saturday afternoon.
The 12th-seeded Seahorses knocked down a dozen 3-pointers and pulled away from No. 13 Mount Anthony to reach the semifinals for the 46th time and first since 2010. They will face top-seeded and undefeated St. Johnsbury on Tuesday at University of Vermont’s Patrick Gym.
“I’m so happy for the kids,” said BHS coach Matt Johnson, whose team upended No. 5 Mount Mansfield earlier in the week. “They’ve worked tremendously hard, and they’ve put together two very good games against two very good teams.”
Freshman Josh Hale racked up 21 points while junior Bryan Vachereau drilled five 3-pointers in a 15-point effort for the Seahorses (11-11).
The duo combined for five of BHS’s six 3-pointers in the third quarter against MAU’s zone to help the Seahorses open up a 51-35 advantage.
“That’s a key to our offense with their 1-3-1 (zone), just swing the ball around, side-to-side, and that gave us open shots,” Vachereau said. “And we were able to knock those down.”
Aaryngston Bibens amassed 25 points and 10 rebounds for Mount Anthony, almost singlehandedly propelling the Patriots to a 29-27 halftime lead. The senior guard exploded for 12 points and three offensive boards in the second quarter as MAU quickly erased a 14-7 deficit.
“Aary Bibens is one of the best players in the state, and he did his best to keep them in it,” Johnson said. “I thought our kids were doing a great job defensively. But when he gets heated up like that, he has the ability to make difficult shots.”
“Fortunately we had better ball movement in the second half, and were able to knock down wide-open looks.”
Mount Anthony, which bumped off No. 4 Middlebury in a playdown, finished up at 7-15.