Hartford "Blocks" Mill River in round 1 of DII Playoffs
Lieberman records triple double
By John Seaver
Mill River and Hartford have gotten to know each other well this past week. Mill River won at home last Thursday night 40-36 and Hartford returned the favor on their home court Saturday with a strong defensive effort 32-20. The MVL rivals met again Wednesday night for the third time in 6 days in round 1 of the Vermont girls DII basketball playoffs and Hartford did it again with defense coming out on top 42-34 in front of a packed Hanley Gymnasium.
The game took a bit to get going as both teams missed easy shots and turned the ball over with the Canes taking a 5-4 lead at the end of 1. Cory Lieberman, the Hartford senior pivot, set the defensive tone for the night with three first quarter blocks. "All we talked about was defense prior to the game." said coach Troy Guerin after the win. "Defense, definitely defense was the key" added Guerin.
In the second quarter though the offenses started to heat up as Mill River senior guard Olivia McPhee scored three transition buckets with some solid defense of her own. The Canes responded as their two sharp shooters knocked down 5 three pointers in the quarter. Michaela Ricker (3) and Kennedy Mullen (2) found the range and helped the Canes close the 2nd quarter on a 9-2 run to give them a 22-14 halftime lead.
The second half belonged to Cory Lieberman as she scored all of her game high 13 points after the break and continued to swat any Mill River shots she got near. The senior forward finished the night with the rarest of triple doubles, 13 points, 10 rebounds and an amazing 10 blocked shots. Asked after the game if she knew she had 10 blocks Lieberman seemed surprised and smiled "No, I just went after whatever came my way. It was a great team win for us in the playoffs." Coach Guerin was also unaware of the numbers saying "We ask a lot from her, nice to see her get a triple."
Hartford took a 30-22 lead into the 4th quarter but Mill River was not going away. McPhee nailed a three pointer early in the 4th quarter and with just under 3 minutes to play, McKenna Ludden hit a huge 3 pointer of her own to cut the Canes lead to just 3, 36-33. The Canes pushed the lead to 38-33 off a great in bounds play to Morgan White coming out of a timeout. On the next Mill River possession, Lieberman fouled out but the Minutemen couldn't take advantage of her absence and were forced to start fouling. Mullen made two free throws to extend the lead to 40-33 and Morgan White canned two more to put the game away.
Morgan White for 2
The Hartford win is the girls program's first playoff win in 5 years. They will now travel to Fair Haven on Saturday for a quarter final game against the #1 seeded Slaters. Fair Haven won both meetings during the regular season but will be without their senior star Halle Coloutti who is out for the season with an injured knee. The Hurricanes continue to play without their senior captain Megan Bushway who also injured her knee and is questionable for Saturday's game.
Category 5 Hurricane Player of the Game: Cory Lieberman. The senior forward recorded a triple double which is a rarity in Vermont high school basketball. Rarer still that it's done with blocked shots Three early blocks of McPhee shots set the defensive tone and she carried the team in the second half.
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