Long Trail plays first home game in new Fieldhouse
DORSET — For the first time in school history the bleachers were packed with students, parents, faculty and alumni for a home game at Long Trail School.
The LTS Fieldhouse was unveiled earlier this year to great fanfare, but Monday, the first games tipped off to break in the facility.
Until earlier this year, every home game on the school's basketball schedule were played at a gym at a nearby school.
But when sophomore Anna Mathewson took the tip for the girls' junior varsity game the home-court advantage era at Long Trail was underway.
The crowd arrived filling the bleachers and standing at either end as current students, alumni, parents and faculty cheered the Mountain Lions in their home opener.
And while the girls JV squad put on a show for the hometown fans, eventually falling by a single point in a thriller, the boys varsity squad ran into a buzz saw in the visiting Bellows Falls Terriers, which beat the home squad 56-25.
Things looked good for the home team to open the game as senior Jeremy Linfield drained a trey to open the scoring and moments later LTS led 5-2.
But that was the end of the highlight reel as Bellows Falls ran off an 18-0 run to close the first quarter with a 20-5 lead and never looked back en route to a 29-8 halftime lead. Mountain Lion head coach Mike Olson knew the Terriers were a tall task for his squad.
"It was a tough matchup," Olson said. "We had a lot of kids in their first game."
Bellows Falls forced the tempo with a full-court press and harassed the Mountain Lions in their half-court game when they got the ball past half court.
Turnovers and rushed shots were the hallmark of the first half for the Mountain Lions offensive effort as the Terrior pressure forced Long Trail into settling for mostly outside shots.
"Their press was overwhelming," Olsen said. "We didn't play well in any phase of the game."
At the other end of the court, Bellows Falls was often open under the basket for easy layups and the Terriers converted their pressure into fastbreak points.
Olson said his young squad — only eight deep with three freshmen and an eighth-grader seeing playing time — will learn from the loss and get better.
"We're young, we're inexperienced and we're small," Olsen said. "We'll be better next game."
The Mountain Lions showed flashes of what's to come, playing Bellows Falls even in the fourth quarter.
After the third quarter ended, Olson urged his squad to show some fight and LTS came out and rattled off three straight buckets on a mini 6-0 run that got the home crowd fired up in route to a 12-12 fourth-quarter.
LTS JV girls
Long Trail does not have a varsity girls program, but the junior varsity squad showed some spunk in the first game to ever tip off in the LTS Fieldhouse.
After falling behind by double digits, the girls squad fought back to play Hartford even through a tight contest and took a small lead late before succumbing in the end. They also produced what will become the answers to several trivia questions down the road for LTS.
Who scored the first point in the new Fieldhouse? Junior Charleigh Tifft, who made a free throw for the honor.
The first foul committed by a Long Trail player? Abby Mega-Coombs has that honor.
And 6-foot tall freshman Anna Mathewson not only won the first tip ever tossed up, but went into the books with the first blocked shot during the game as well.
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