Bulldogs return to title game after semifinal win over Lake Region

BARRE -- An accomplished three-sport athlete, Burr and Burton Academy senior Jake Stalcup has featured in football and baseball championship games during his varsity career. Also humble, he doesn't hide the fact that he's without a state crown.

"After losing my first state championship and then that second one, that feeling is the worst feeling in the world," Stalcup said.

"All I wanted was one more shot and I know that if I got it, we can make it count," he said. "We've got the team, we've got the pieces."

And he has that shot in another sport now.

Stalcup's second-seeded Bulldogs were unflappable in Wednesday night's Division II semifinal with No. 3 Lake Region, storming by the Rangers with a clinical second-quarter surge that paved the way to a 80-62 win at the Barre Auditorium.

BBA (21-2) advances with a chance to derail undefeated, top-seeded Vergennes (23-0) in Saturday's title game at 3:45 p.m. -- something the Rangers didn't get a whiff of as the Bulldogs' lead never dipped below eight points after halftime.

"They had to work hard. We wanted to make them work hard for their stuff and I think they got a little tired," BBA coach Dave Shehadi said. "We're very pleased. We're going to the finals."

Sophomore guard Joey Shehadi dialed up 23 points to pace the Bulldogs, including four 3-pointers, and Stalcup chipped in with 16 points and seven rebounds.

As a team, BBA made Lake Region (20-3) pay at the free throw line, going 20-for-21.

Lake Region, powered by 17 points from Clint Provencha, led 18-14 heading into the second quarter after the junior spun and drained a high-arcing 3-pointer from the right corner to beat the buzzer.

But the Bulldogs roared back by outscoring the Rangers 25-8 in the next frame, closing the half on a 20-2 run that Weston Muench capped with a trey after a Shehadi steal in the final minute.

"I'm like, 'Guys, we're down four because the kid just made a circus shot. It's OK,'" Dave Shehadi said. "And then we got one of our good runs going and we held on."

Burr and Burton led by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter, getting stronger as the contest wore on.

"We're in very, very good condition as a team -- we run a lot in practice," Stalcup said. "I think once wear down a team we can really play our game, get up and down the floor quick and force turnovers."

Muench, Taylor Fuller and Conor Harrington each added nine points for BBA, which pushed its winning streak to 13 games.

Caleb Prue (13 points) and Drew Gallup (12 points) also hit double digits for Lake Region.


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