The Bulls closed out the winter season on Sunday with two NEPSAC championship games. Both teams met Lakes Region rivals in the finals. The girls’ varsity basketball team faced number-one seed Vermont Academy, while the boys’ varsity hockey team took on top-seeded Tilton School.
The girls’ varsity basketball team has seen quite the turnaround over the last three seasons. Two seasons ago, the team had a record of 2-17. Fast forward to this season where the team posted a 15-9 record and won their second consecutive NEPSAC Class D championship. The girls waltzed their way to the finals, defeating Bancroft School by a large margin and Lexington Christian Academy by forty-three points.
On Sunday, the team traveled to Loomis Chaffee in Windsor, CT to once again battle Vermont Academy for the title. Last year’s clash between these two teams was a close-fought game that ultimately saw Holderness defeat Vermont 65-54. The Holderness defense was a force throughout the playoffs but was particularly amazing in the championship game. It seemed as though no Vermont pass or shot was uncontested. Both Emilija Jakumaite ’20 and Taina Mair ‘’22 kept forcing turnovers. Mair added two spectacular blocked shots where the sound of her hand on the ball could be heard over the sound of the crowd in the gym and which stopped the opposing player in mid-air. Holderness lead at the half with a score of 36 to 19, out running, out passing, and outshooting VA.
With the Wildcats within striking distance, the girls knew they could not take their foot off the gas. Instead, the team ignited, Jakumaite exploded for 22 points in the second half. Jakumaite worked tirelessly alongside Mair on defense to limit Vermont’s offense and forced turnovers. Mair consistently shut down the VA shooters and several times slung the inbound pass a la Tom Brady the full length of the court for a fast break layup. The Wildcats had no answers as the Bulls cruised to an 85-55 win and once again hoisted the trophy. Having her best game of the season, senior KC Carter finished out her Holderness career in style. She was the game high scorer with 28 points. She had a great performance rebounding off the boards earning a double-double. Some days, everything just seems to go in; KC had one of those days and her smile just got bigger and bigger as the half went on. For the second time in as many seasons, KC Carter ‘19 was named the championship MVP.
The boys’ varsity hockey team’s playoff run contained a copious number of dramatic and jaw-dropping moments. There was, for example, the nine-goal second period against Proctor Academy in the quarterfinals that saw the Bulls’ five-goal lead evaporate in the span of just a few minutes. Thanks to Tim Manning ’20 who scored a highlight reel goal and completed his hat trick, the game was once again out of reach. So when the boys fell down a goal late in the third period against Tilton, there was no question that the team was capable of making the comeback. Having already recovered from a one-goal deficit earlier in the game, when Carter Rose ’21 found the back of the net midway through the first period, the team set out to regain control of the game. Unfortunately, a few penalties combined with the team’s urgency for a goal, left them vulnerable to Tilton’s counter attack. Tanner Ensign ’19 was able to slot home a puck in the dying minutes; however, the damage had already been done and the Bulls fell 5-2.
When the teams returned to campus Sunday night they were met by applause and cheers, as the school shared in the celebration of both teams’ successful seasons!