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Mt. Abe Eagles will defend state championship

The defending high school boys Division II State Champion Mount Abraham Eagles will get a chance to repeat when they play in the 2008 state championship game this Saturday. The Eagles advanced to the finals after dispatching the fifth seeded Otter Valley Otters in the semifinals Monday night in Barre. Mount Abe had their shooting shoes on, and rode a 65 percent three point success rate to a 60 - 39 win over the Otters. The Eagles offense spread the wealth, making it tough for the Otters defense to key in on any particular players. Kevin Labas led the way in all around play with a double-double consisting of 13 points, and 12 rebounds, including recording his 1,000th career point, which came early in the contest. Greg Lutton hit five three pointers to lead Mount Abraham in scoring with 17 points, followed by Will Manley with 14. Senior guard Chad Estey contributed ten more to the Eagles attack. The Otters, who finish their season at 15 - 7, and their first trip to Barre in 23 years were led by Grant Jakubowski with nine points. Mount Abe will take on the winner of the Windsor vs. Hartford game that was played Wednesday night (after this publications deadline) Saturday at 3 p.m. for the 2008 Division II State Championship. The top seeded Mount Abraham Eagles advanced to Monday nights semifinal by squeaking past the eighth seeded Middlebury Tigers 52 - 50 last Friday night in Bristol. The Tigers held three point leads twice in the final eight minutes, but each time the hometown Eagles pulled even. Then with the game tied at 48 - 48 Will Manley made four straight crucial free throws to secure the 52 - 50 win for the defending state champions, and enable them to advance to Mondays semifinals against the Otter Valley Otters. Kevin Labas paced the Eagles in this one with 22 points, followed by Manley who added 14, with nine of them coming in the critical fourth quarter. The Tigers, who wrapped up their season at 14 -9 received 16 points from Tucker Burns and 14 from Travis Betourney. Like the Tigers the sixth seeded Vergennes Commodores were also eliminated in last Fridays quarterfinals. The Commodores scored 73 points and still lost to third seeded Harwood 96 - 73. In an offensive showcase that treated fans to 31 three pointers made, Harwood averaged an impressive 24 points per quarter. They were led by Greg Mehuron (28) and Liam Smith (twenty-three,) who combined efforts yielded 51 points, including 10 three-pointers, for the victors. Vergennes Josh Carter hit seven three pointers himself to lead the Commodores with 21 points. Connor Merrill added 18 for Vergennes who end their season with a 15 - 7 record.

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