The top-seeded Mount Abraham Union High School girls’ basketball team will meet No. 3 BFA-Fairfax on Saturday in the Division II final, to be played at 3:45 p.m. in the Barre Auditorium.
The 22-1 Eagles, of course, reached the final by defeating No. 4 Hartford on Monday, 56-48, to avenge their loss in the 2012 final. Fairfax earned its berth in the final by upsetting No. 2 U-32 on Tuesday, 39-33.
Fairfax is making its first-ever D-II finals appearance and the program’s sixth-ever run to a final four. Most recently, in 2003, a Bullet team reached the D-III semifinal round, and in 2000 Fairfax lost in the D-III final. Overall, the program is 1-1 in D-III finals and 3-4 in semifinal appearances, including Tuesda's win.
Mount Abe will be making its third straight appearance in D-II finals at the Aud and fifth since the program won the crown in 1997. Coach Connie LaRose also led teams to finals in 2004 and 2007, and to semifinals in Barre in 1998 and 1999.
Several Eagles will be playing their fourth games in the Aud on Saturday, while two Eagles, junior Ashlie Fay and senior Jessie Martin, will be there for their sixth games. They might be getting used to the old barn.
The teams play different schedules. The Bullets did not face a Division I foe this season, while the Eagles played eight D-I games in the Lake Division. Four of those games came against teams not having strong seasons, but Mount Abe went 3-1 against South Burlington and Colchester, the Nos. 4 and 6 seeds in D-I.
The Bullets’ two losses were close: at D-II No. 5 seed Lake Region by five, and at D-III No. 1 seed Hazen by four. They have won six straight since that 40-36 loss at Hazen, including three playoff wins.
Mount Abe has won 13 straight since its only loss, a 52-48 home setback to South Burlington that the Eagles avenged with a 12-point win at SBHS down the stretch.
But the Eagles and the 21-2 Bullets have played five games apiece against three common opponents — Milton, Vergennes and Fair Haven.
Both teams swept those five games, while the Eagles compiled larger margins in four of the five, sometimes considerably larger.
Vs. Milton, the Eagles won by 72-28 at home and by 49-36 away; the total point differential was 57.
Vs. Milton, the Bullets won by 43-33 at home and by 46-28 away; the point differential was 28.
Vs. VUHS, the Eagles won by 50-19 away and by 62-27 home; the point differential was 66.
The Bullets played VUHS twice at home because the second game came in the playoffs; the scores were 49-21 and 53-26, and the point differential was 55.
Mount Abe won at Fair Haven in the final of the Slater’s holiday tourney, 38-25.
Fairfax faced FHUHS at home in a D-II quarterfinal and won, 31-29.
For what it’s worth, the Eagles outscored those same five opponents by 62 points more than the Bullets did, or by just more than 12 points a game.
If Vegas were setting a line, it might be Mount Abe by 12.
But never mind the logic: We’re dealing with two good teams of high school athletes on rolls. It should be fun on Saturday.