ESSEX — The No. 8 seed Hornets dominated the middle periods, more than doubling up No. 9 BFA-St. Albans on the way to a 51-40 Division I boys basketball playdown victory Wednesday night.

Taylor Yates kept the Bobwhites close through halftime, scoring 12 of their 15 points — including all seven in the second period. A Nick Voyer basket and Landon Potvin’s free throw was all BFA added to Yates’ three field goals and two 3-pointers before the break.

The Essex charge was led by senior captain Robert Meslin, who had been shut out in the first quarter but made up for it the rest of the night. Meslin scored eight in the second quarter and eight more in the third while the Hornets outscored BFA 33-15.

A 14-7 advantage in the second had Essex up 22-15, and a 19-8 third put it away.

Meslin finished with a game-high 20 points, including 9 of 11 at the foul line and a third-quarter three. Stephen Astor added nine and Aiden Paquette eight, with each hitting a 3-pointer. Parker Whitney scored six, Anthony Decarvalho four, and Burke Hoover five.

Yates scored 17 to lead the Bobwhites, with three 3-point buckets and 2 of 2 at the line. Logan Tobin scored nine, Potvin six, Voyer four, and Kameron Dunsmore and Case Ballard two apiece.

The rivals came in with matching 8-12 records, but Essex benefitted from a tougher schedule that awarded 1.5 more index points to take home court. While BFA played more than half its games against Division II foes, Essex’s lineup was all D-I.

The Hornets (9-12) move on to a tough quarterfinal, visiting No. 1 seed Rice Memorial (18-2) Friday night.

Photos by Melissa Hall-Archambault,  St. Albans Messenger