Sports Shorts

By Joe Gonillo

As vacation ends, we gladly say good-stink-in’-bye to a frigid, cold, freezing, way below zero February. Can you remember a colder month? How depressing. It’s a good thing some people get to slide south to warmer weather. I have heard that rejuvenates the batteries for the final push until spring. Our winter sports teams have enjoyed some successful playoff runs. State Championship finals are on tap this week. Scary moment at the girls’ basketball Division-I semifinals last Saturday evening, but as of press time things were OK.

Basketball

So I will start with the girls’ basketball semifinals. Before the Hornets stepped onto the court, before the CVU versus Rice game ended and with about one minute to play and the Red Hawks up by three the Green Knight coach Tim Rice collapsed on the bench. The game was stopped; he was attended to by medical personnel and rushed to the hospital. As of Sunday night, he was resting comfortably. The rest of the game, and the Hornet-Comet semifinals were rescheduled to Thursday evening starting at 6 p.m. Essex had a week to prepare for the game… BFA defeated EHS twice this winter… and now they have a few more practices. See you Thursday night at UVM.

The boys’ hoop team ended their season last Friday in a quarterfinal loss to Burlington 59-43. The loss ended a fine season for the Hornets. Their 14-8 record got them to the second round of the boys’ basketball playoffs. Center Jackson Dwyer scored 10 points for Essex while Eli DiGrande dropped in nine.

Hockey

The boys’ hockey team won two games last week to advance to the State Championship on March 9 versus the Colchester-South Burlington survivor. They beat Rice 4-1 early last week to play BFA in the semifinals on Saturday. Down 2-0 in the third period Brendan Gleason scored to put the Hornets on the board. Alex Giummo tied the game. Forty seconds later, Gleason scored again for a 3-2 Essex lead. He nailed a hat trick into an empty net. Goalkeeper Eric Short stopped 22 shots in the biggest win of the year so far…

The girls’ hockey team also advanced to the State Championship game this week with two wins last week over South Burlington 3-0 and then archrival BFA 2-0 in the semifinals. Senior Kathleen Young once again scored two goals to bounce the Comets out of the playoffs again. Young lit the lamp in the first and put another away in the second period. The Hornet defense and goaltender Victoria Gibson stopped 36 shots in the shutout win. Melanie Theriault added an assist. Essex will play the winner of No. 2 Middlebury-No. 3 Northfield winner at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at UVM.

Wrestling

The wrestling team placed ninth in the state championship Saturday scoring 59.5 points. They upped their standing one place after the first day of competition. The highlight of the meet was freshman Jack Carney’s win in the 138-pound weight class. He defeated MMU’s Bryce Bernadine 8-3 and is Essex’ first champ since 2009. Other standouts included John Stawinski ­– third in the 145-pound weight class– and Francisco Velasquez – fourth at 160 pounds.

Alpine Skiing

On Feb. 18 the alpine ski teams participated in the slalom portion of the NVACs. They later skied in the giant slalom at Middlebury Snow Bowl on Feb. 24. Both teams gave it their best effort, but it just wasn’t meant to be this year as neither boys nor girls qualified for the state meet at Okemo/Bromley this upcoming week. Charlotte Ouellette is the Hornets’ only graduating senior. Things look very promising for next year. The postponed BFA race at Hardack was held after the NVACs, and in a Mardi Gras type of music atmosphere a few members of the Essex team participated. Chase Dunbar placing 11th and Brennan Goodrich cracked the top 20 based on a blistering afternoon run. The ladies held their own as first year skier Hannah Danis skied in 23th.

A Visit Uncle Vince

So we spent a little time in Florida last week visiting my uncle, Vince Martinelli. He was a Wall Street guru in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and part of the ‘80s. He also was an explorer who has met the Dali Llama. He amazed us with his stories and postcards while we were growing up. Most importantly, he provided us with his company box seats to at least 2-3 Yankees games of our choice – Bat Day, old-fashioned double headers, and even Red Sox games. We spent some days by the pool on the canal on southeast 15th Street and our evening dining south Florida with his circle of interesting and friendly pals. One of my favorite spots was the American Legion’s Friday Night Steak Night grilled right outside the place for $14. We went twice. He and I also took a trip up to Jupiter and saw the Cardinals practice in the morning and the Marlins in the evening. They share Roger Dean Stadium for spring training and for the Single-A franchises. It was a lot of fun, and I even corralled a stray ball that got away from pitchers playing catch. Saw a couple of ex-Yankee players including David Phelps. You can’t beat the weather either. We also caught up with former Rivendell resident Jan Lee, ex-Williston golfers John and Liz Tobin, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law Don and Carol Hathaway. Fun, fun, fun!