SWANTON – Seven minutes into its season-opener against Missisquoi on Saturday, the Enosburg boys’ basketball team found itself down six and struggling to find its shot.
After only getting three points with less than two minutes to go in the first quarter, the Hornets exploded for a 9-0 run to take a 12-9 lead at the end of the quarter.
From there, it was all Enosburg, as it used a strong team defense and balanced offense to come away with a 51-34 victory to kick off its season.
“I was proud of how they responded after a bit of a slow start to begin the first quarter,” said Enosburg coach Matt Luneau. “This has been a tough place to play for us. The last four years we have come here, we have left with losses, so it’s nice to come away with a win today.”
Calvin Carter led the Hornets with 19 points and Mahlik Franklin added 13 points. Matt Perley added seven points and played well throughout the game.
Richard Walker led the Thunderbirds with 19 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Nick Cutting added nine points.
It was a tough day offensively for the Thunderbirds with the suffocating and up-tempo defense of the Hornets.
“Enosburg is fast and tall and plays a very disciplined type of press and man defense,” said Missisquoi coach Jim Bose. “We don’t have a solid point guard at this point, and that’s going to be a challenge for us this year.”
The Thunderbirds jumped out to a 9-3 lead early in the first with strong player from Walker and Cutting. The lead was short lived, as Carter sparked the offense with a 3-pointer and a pair of free-throws followed by a putback by Franklin.
Carter and Franklin continued to dominate in the second with the two combining to score 13 of the team’s 16 points in the second quarter, as the Hornets went ahead 28-18 at the half.
“Calvin hit some big shots out there, which helped us get the lead and keep it,” said Luneau. “He also did a good job of distributing the ball out there and getting everyone involved, which makes him an even better player.”
Missisquoi showed some life in the third quarter getting the deficit down to single digits on multiple occasions, but the high-powered offense of the Hornets and costly turnovers stopped any sort of serious comeback.
Walker scored 14 of the Thunderbirds’ 16 points in the second half, as he did all he could on both sides of the ball all game long.
“Walker is a tough player and got his points out there,” said Luneau. “Our defense did a good job of making him work for every one of his points.”
It was a tough game for the Thunderbirds taking care of the ball, as they committed 20 turnovers in the game, which the Hornets did a good job capitalizing on.
They will look to see better results on Monday when they travel to BFA-Fairfax.
“It was a tough day for us offensively, but I credit that to Enosburg and their tough style of defense,” said Bose. “I’m hoping we can take away some positives from today and use them going forward.”
It was a good start to the season for the Hornets, who had seven of its players score throughout the game.
They will look to keep things going when they travel to Milton on Tuesday.
“We definitely have a lot to work on still,” said Luneau. “But today was definitely a good start for us.”