The Bellcate Bulldogs Basketball Team made the 70 mile trek Tuesday to Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vermont. They were looking to feed off of their gutsy performance a few days earlier where they competed until the final horn against a scrappy Milton Yellow Jackets team. Not only did the boys from Bellcate win the game Tuesday, they also made Vermont history. They are the first special education approved independent school basketball team to ever win a sanctioned Vermont Principals Association D4 basketball game! “As Bellcate School Athletic Director, I could not be more proud of this team. From where we were a few years ago as a basketball program, to where we are now, is just incredible. It speaks volumes about the type of young men we have in this program today,” explained Head Coach, Jamie Moore. “I don’t know if the students completely understand how special this is or what they have accomplished, but I hope someday when they are older, they will look back on this accomplishment and realize it’s larger meaning,” added Moore.
After a very focused van ride, the boys came out of the locker room with lots of energy to start the game. Eric notched his first two points of the season with a nice lay up to get the dogs on the scoreboard. Shortly after, the Bulldogs dug themselves a bit of a hole, as Oxbow went on a run that the Bulldogs couldn’t stop. However, the Bulldogs weathered the storm, and they fought back to cut Oxbow’s lead to just two points.
After an Oxbow timeout, the Olympians came out blazing as they went on a 9-0 run right before halftime to up their lead to 12 with only a few seconds left in the first half. That’s when Mr. Kolbi Smith stepped into the building!! With time winding down in the first half, Kolbi grabbed a rebound, and he got the shot off right as the buzzer sounded. He scored his first two points of the season! “Kolbi’s shot was huge. We withheld a couple big runs from them, and we needed something like that to spark us going into halftime.” explains Moore.
During halftime, coaches Jeff, Shane, Vincent, Matt, and Steven made a few changes in our defense that we thought would slow them down a bit. “Our coaching staff was amazing tonight. The kids deserve all the credit for winning this game, but the coaching from these guys is what put them in the position to win this game. “ says Moore.
Bellcate came out of the locker room in the zone after halftime. The defensive tenacity from Bellcate’s guards was tremendous, and it forced Oxbow to start turning the ball over. “Keith was all over the court yesterday. Coming off a concussion where he had to sit for a couple weeks, his defense is what helped us win the game.” says Moore. Along with Keith, Dominick started creating havoc on defense. That lead to him getting some easy buckets on the offensive end. “Dominick was locked in from the moment he woke up for school Tuesday,” Moore said. “His leadership has been huge for us this year. From where he is now, and where he was this time last year, its night and day. He has worked hard in developing not only as a great basketball player but more importantly, as a great young man. We couldn’t be more proud of him.” says Moore.
While the Bulldogs continued scraping back into the game, reserves Marcus, Dakota, and Dustin made their presence felt in the action. Marcus and Dakota both came in and provided much needed rebounding for the Bulldogs. They each compiled 3 rebounds, which were huge contributions off the bench. Dustin, who had been fighting the flu earlier this week, made one of the biggest plays of the game. He was asked to go in for a 2 minute stretch toward the end of the game. Dustin sacrificed his body for his team and dove for a loose ball that was headed out of bounds. He saved it! It was a huge spark for the Bulldogs and it just shows how badly the Bulldogs wanted it. “Dustin diving for that ball was the highlight of the game for me.” Coach Jeff said.
With time winding down in the 4th quarter and Oxbow still clinging to a sizeable lead, Matt complimented his team’s solid defense with and offensive storm. Matt scored on 4 straight possessions, and he helped Bellcate get its first lead since it was 2-0. “That was one of the greatest one minute individual performances on a basketball court I have ever seen” explains Moore. Like his teammate Dakota kept saying on the van ride home, Matt was enfuego! (On Fire)
With the game still in doubt Abdullahi, sporting his new hairdo, put his mark on the ballgame. He connected on a huge three pointer that sealed the deal for the Bulldogs. “If anyone has watched Abdi play this year, you know there isn’t a spot on the floor he doesn’t like to shoot from. Shot selection means nothing to Abdi. The concept of time and score can just be thrown out of the window for this man, but guess what? He doesn’t have the nickname “Big shot Abdi” for nothing!!” laughs Moore.
As the horn blew and the confetti dropped from the rafters, the Bulldog players celebrated, not as a team, but as a family. Ten brothers who form what is and what I am proud to call, my Bellcate Basketball Family.