SWANTON — The MVU Thunderbirds came close to getting their first victory of the season Wednesday evening at the Thunderdome against the Milton Yellowjackets.
It was a two-point game entering the final eight minutes before Milton (3-10) pulled away from Missisquoi to win 35-24.
MVU jumped out to an early 4-0 lead before Milton scored six straight points to take the lead with three minutes left in the first quarter. The T-Birds tied it six when Kailie Manchester scored on a strong inside move off a sweet pass from Serena Power.
Milton responded by scoring five consecutive points to end the quarter leading 11-6, and scored the first bucket of the second period to go up by seven.
From there Missisquoi outscored the Yellowjackets 9-2, leaving the teams tied at halftime, 15-15.
Manchester scored four in the spurt, while Samantha FitzSimmons had three from the charity stripe and Riley Noel added two.
Milton ran off five quick points, including a 3-point bomb from Bailey Reilly, to go up 20-15 at the 5:45 mark. MVU responded with Isabel Paquette scoring four points to pull MVU within 1, 20-19, with two minutes remaining in the third. Madison Chalmers made a strong low post move with 38 seconds left to put Milton up 22-19, but Manchester hit one of two free throws with 20 ticks left to pull Missisquoi within two, 22-20.
Freshman Catherine Paradis gave the T-Birds a chance to knot the score with a steal and hard drive, but the shot rolled in and out as the horn sounded.
Madalyn Leggett started Milton’s strong finish when she hit a soft mid-range jumper and nailed the free throw to complete a 3-point play, 35 seconds into the final quarter. Cassidy Button scored two more of her game-high 12 points on a nice spin move into the lane for a 27-20 Yellowjacket advantage with 6:33 left.
Paquette swished a jumper from the corner to pull MVU back within striking distance, 27-22 with 5:45 left on the clock, before Milton scored five straight points to pull away and go up by 10 with 2:25 to play.
Manchester, off a nice assist from Power, hit a curling bank shot at the 1:51 mark to make the score 32-24.
The T-Birds, though, turned the ball over or missed short shots on their next five possessions and Milton put the game away hitting three of four free throws late.
Leading the way for the Yellowjackets were Button with 12, including four of four at the line. Reilly pickedup nine — all on 3-pointers — and Chalmers had eight, Leggett five and Kate Rowley one.
Button grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and Leggett pulled down 10 more. Chalmers came up with a strong block late in the third quarter while Milton led by three, and Leggett blocked a pair of fourth-quarter shots.