Bulldogs snag top spot in playoffs

BENNINGTON -- All three local boys basketball teams are in the state tournament, including the top seed in Division I.

After an undefeated 20-0 campaign, the Bulldogs got the upper hand in the index points over Northern foes No. 2 Burlington (17-3), No. 3 Rice, No. 4 St. Johnsbury and No. 5 Mount Mansfield (all 16-4).

Joey Shehadi has been the offensive leader for the Bulldogs all season, statistically, but more than a handful of players can score the basketball, including Tyeshawn Gadson, Taylor Muench and Conor Harrington -- all of whom have had big games this season.

"We've had four guys average in doubles, we've seen teams put a box-and-one on Joey," said BBA coach Dave Shehadi. "It was great what we did during the season, but now it's a new season."

Shehadi has the luxury of depth as well, as nine or ten of his players are strong contributors, including Ryan Smith, a big force on the glass.

There's also been talk about the D-II heavy schedule the Bulldogs played, moving up this season from D-II to D-I.

"It's hard to go from D-II to D-I and schedule high-quality opponents," Shehadi said. "I tell the kids not to listen to the blogs and play who's in front of us. It would be a mistake to take us lightly."

They face No. 16 seed North Country, a team that was 7-13 this season today at Burr and Burton Academy.


In Division IV, Arlington comes into the tournament as the No. 13 seed after a treacherous 3-17 campaign, but two wins in the final three games give the Eagles some momentum and confidence heading into their matchup with No. 4 Chelsea on Wednesday night.

Usually, the Eagles are led by their star center, DJ Jennings, who reached the 1,000-point plateau earlier this season and averages more than 15 points a contest. But the Eagles have some spunk in the backcourt with second-leading scorer Austin Hawley, who scored 30 against Black River, and sophomore Nathan Mattison.


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