After starting their season losing 2 of their first 3 games, the Bellcate Bulldogs Gold basketball team rallied off 8 straight wins and claimed the school’s first ever Vermont State Basketball Championship defeating a feisty Mill River team on Thursday 5/10 at Patrick Gym with a score of 51-47.
Playing in the Vermont Interscholastic Unified Basketball League for the first time, head coach, Jamie Moore didn’t really know what to expect at the beginning of the season. “Going into our first game against Montpelier, I didn’t really know what to expect from our kids. We didn’t even have a practice yet, and we were off to play a team that has been in the league for 3 years. After that game, I knew we had a special group of kids, and we could do some big things in the league,” reflects Moore.
After losing a heartbreaker to powerhouse CVU on April 5th, the Bulldogs closed out the regular season by winning their last 4 games. The Bulldogs got huge contributions by Marissa, Callie, Isaiah, and Marcus during this stretch. “These 4 kiddos really stepped up for us down the stretch, and they were a nice compliment to our big scorers, Abdullahi and Alex.” said coach Jac. Marissa, Callie, Isaiah, and Marcus continued to hit big shots for the Bulldogs pushing them deeper into the playoffs and ultimately crowning them state champions!
Midway through the season, Daniel was added to the Bulldogs roster. Playing in his first basketball game ever as a Bulldog, Daniel, with his good buddy Dom right by his side, sank two shots for a total of 4 points! “Daniel was a huge spark for us this season. He hustled, made shots when we needed him to and was a great locker room guy which every team needs. He kept the kids loose and brought a lot of fun to the team.” explains coach Matt.
The Bulldogs would not have made this storybook run without the leadership of Eric, Kyron, Dominick, and Keith. When it’s all said and done, when each one of these kids have moved on from Bellcate, they will all be remembered for what they did for their teammates this season. “I could not be more proud of these 4 kids and what they did this season for their team, school, and the whole Bellcate family. They had a tough role on this team, and they excelled at it, and they are a huge reason why we won the championship this season,” says coach Heather.
Bellcate veteran, Ashley, who was a player/assistant coach for the beginning of the season, suffered an ankle injury that required her to give up her player role on the team. However, this did not stop Ashley from being a huge part of the team. Ashley still came to every game, home or away, and helped coach Moore set up before games and for pre-game meetings. “Ashley was a huge help this season. In fact, she has already signed her coaches contract for next season, in every sport throughout the year. She is that good!” says coach Moore.
Along with Ashley, the bulldogs coaching staff had another face on the bench in the ladder part of the season. Dylan, who became a new Bellcate student about a month ago, wanted to be a part of our “Bulldog family” and sat on the bench with the team for the last few games of the season, including sitting with his team in the championship! “Dylan played a huge role on this team. He probably doesn’t even know it, but he did. The kids just gravitate to him. He is a truly special kid, and we are lucky to have him, and I am so happy he is a part of our family.” says Moore.
Rounding out the team are Abdullahi and Alex. One has just finished a tremendous basketball career here at Bellcate, while the other is just starting out. Abdullahi, who ends his Bulldog career as the school’s all time leading scorer, graduates this month, as a Vermont State Champion. His championship game performance will go down in history as one of the greatest scoring performances ever at Patrick Gym. Scoring 35 points in his final game at Bellcate, Abdullahi put his name on the list of some of the best players to ever play at Patrick Gym such as former UVM stars TJ Sorrentine and Taylor Coppenrath. “He’s been the best player in the state all year. Not only because of his scoring production, but because he has been extremely coachable, and has been a great teammate. We will miss him for sure.” Says Moore.
Alex, playing in his first ever championship game, showed no signs of nerves. He came out ‘Blazzin hot!’ Alex scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half, while also playing great defense on Mill River’s best player. “The kid did it all in the championship. He showed everyone in the state that he is for real. His future is very bright, and I am glad we have him. I am very proud of the player/person he has become.” adds Moore.
The 2018 Bulldogs Gold basketball team will go down in history as one of the greatest teams to ever play in the Vermont Unified Basketball League. The acronym for ‘TEAM’ is “Together Everyone Achieves More.” That could not be more true for this group of kids. Without one, this championship wouldn’t have happened. One needed all, and all needed one. They stuck together through the good times and bad, and were like brothers and sisters to one another all year long. Congrats to the 2018 Vermont State Champions, the Bellcate Bulldogs!