HINESBURGChamplain Valley Union High School is the 2006-07 Vermont National Education Association Scholars' Bowl State Champion after one of the closest title matches since the academic quiz program began in 1984. The CVU Redhawks rallied late in the final round to edge a competitive team from Hanover, (N.H.) High School, 325-305, in the closest title game on record. After a close, back and forth battle through the early rounds, Hanover led 305-265 in the closing minutes before CVU tied up the game 305-305 with 30 seconds remaining. The last two questions were answered correctly in rapid fire by CVU juniors Max Keve and Eliza Goldberg to push ahead and secure CVU its first Scholars' Bowl crown as the final buzzer sounded. Saturday's win marked the first Scholars' Bowl championship for CVU and the first state title win for CVU coach John Bennett, who has been coaching academic quiz teams for 12 years, the last six at CVU. In fact, the victory was particularly sweet for Bennett, whose last Scholars Bowl Championship trophy was the one he won himself in 1984 as a senior and member of the Rice Memorial High School championship team. The format for the Scholars' Bowl match pits two teams of four students in a three-part rapid-fire question and answer competition on a range of topics from math, history, literature and general knowledge. Thirty four teams in eight divisions from across Vermont compete across the state in local and regional match-ups. The CVU-Hanover finale marked the conclusion of an exciting final day of the season of playoffs that began in February. In the first match Saturday, Burlington High School beat Harwood Union High School 240-215 in the Medlar Cup final, the final of the tournament's B division. Mt. Mansfield Union High then topped Burlington 290-210 in a play-in game to earn a place in the final four. In the semifinals, third-seeded CVU pulled away from second-seed Essex High School for a decisive 340-260 win and a place in the finals. Mt. Mansfield Union's team then returned to play top-seeded Hanover in another close event that ended when Hanover fended off MMU's challenge, 275-245 to set up the championship showdown. Teams from Hanover High School, coached by 19-year Scholars' Bowl veteran Bill Murphy, won back-to-back state championships in 2003 and 2004. As the final buzzer secured the win, CVU's Bennett leapt out of his seat I the audience and ran down the stairs to congratulate and hug his team members. The winning CVU team, led by senior co-captains Tyrone Greenfield and Noah Mease of Williston, included seniors Nate Petter of Williston, Bryan Petrow of Charlotte and Caleb Miles of Shelburne, along with juniors Goldberg and Keve, both of Shelburne. As Vermont State Champions, CVU will attend the 20th annual Panasonic Academic Challenge at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. on June 23-26 to compete for the national championship and a top prize of $2,500 scholarships for the team members. The Florida competition format differs from Vermont's format in that it is a slower-paced tournament in which players are asked questions from the areas of mathematics, science, language arts, social studies, the fine arts, foreign language (French and Spanish) and technology. The questions are written by educators from high schools and colleges throughout the nation. The CVU team and coach will also attend the National Academic Quiz Tournaments Championship in May in Chicago.