Thursday March 05, 2015
Eighth seeded South Burlington got bounced out of the playoffs this past week after a 64-43 loss to top seeded Rice. The Rebels struggled out of the gate, giving up an 8-0 run in the first minute of competition, but turned things around and dominated the remainder of the first half. “It was a 1vs16 matchup that everyone had pretty much written us out of.” said South Burlington head coach Solomon Bayer-Pacht. “After falling behind early, we came back to play some of our best basketball of the season. Our crowd was going nuts and their coaches were freaking out! It was fun for me, since I used to be an assistant coach at Rice. We prepared so hard all week for this game and had a very specific game plan offensively and defensively, which the guys followed to a T. Both teams were making great plays, and we shot the lights out of the ball! We were prepared to win the game and we knew we could, and because of that, we put ourselves in a position to do so.” The rejuvenated Rebels trailed by just four at the half, with the Green Knights hanging onto a narrow 31-27 lead.
Jeremy Clements attacked the rim on his way to a team-high 13 points, while teammate Tyler Ayers added 9. Coach Bayer-Pacht was especially impressed with the job his defense did to slow down Rice’s top scorers, putting the brakes on the Green Knight’s key weapons Kendrick Gray and Benny Shungu. However, the extra defensive pressure opened up scoring lanes for Rice’s Ferran Lopez, who torched the South Burlington defense for 21 points in the contest. Ultimately, that performance was enough for Rice to pull away with the win.
“The Rice coaching staff was telling me that they thought the Rebels would have pulled it out if Lopez didn’t have the game he had.” said Bayer-Pacht “All in all, it was a fantastic year, and I couldn’t be more proud of my guys. And now the real season begins. My goal is to build this program to be one of the best in the state and in order to do that, the most work must be done between March and November. For great programs, there is no offseason, and I’m excited to get back to work and continue to develop the great young talent and character we have in our program.” South Burlington will have the majority of its roster returning to the program next season, including this season’s assists leader Ben Moran, 3-point marksman Kyle Murakami, and leading rebounder Harrison Gregoire.
“I can handle losing games because shots don’t go in.” said Bayer-Pacht “I can’t handle losing games because of lack of heart. Never once this season was that the case and that is all I can ask for as a coach. The future couldn’t be brighter for Rebel basketball!”
Third seeded South Burlington advanced to the semi-final round this past week after a blistering 8-2 quarterfinal victory over sixth seeded Rutland. The Rebels dominated the competition across the board, but particularly turned it on in the second period, when the team netted four game-changing goals. South Burlington was able to transition the puck effectively and their experienced offensive hands were quick to put it in the back of the Red Raiders goal- Liam Nerber and Brendan Lahue led the team with two goals and an assist each in the game, while Kyle MacDonald and Ryan Leonard had a goal and a pair of assists. Brandon Gray and Connor Bradley each scored a goal in the playoff matchup to round out South Burlington’s scoring. Rutland’s beleaguered goalie was forced to make 39 saves in the game, and two late third period goals by the Raiders were all that kept South Burlington from securing a shut-out victory. With the win, South Burlington holds a 14-5-2 record on the season, and advances to the semi-finals, where the Rebels will host Colchester at Cairns Arena on Tuesday, 3/3 after press deadline.
SOURCE: Peter Caulkns