Boston High School: Concord (Vt.)

New England Roundup: Vermont

February, 9, 2011
Essex High School girls basketball coach Shawn Montague said he entered the 2010-11 season confident that his team was among those that had a chance to win the Division I state championship.

VermontHe might not admit it, but Montague probably had second thoughts following a 39-34 loss to Hartford on Jan. 7. That loss dropped the Hornets’ record to a mediocre 3-3.

Since then Essex has won nine games in a row, however, and seems to have established itself as one of the favorites in Division I.

“I thought we had all the pieces to be good,” Montague said. “It took us a few weeks to get going. We needed until the end of December or early January to find out who we are.”

Essex is a team that’s been winning with defense. The Hornets have allowed an average of 31 points per game during their winning streak. No opponent has scored more than 43 points in those nine games.

Unlike many teams, Essex rarely uses a press. The Hornets beat teams with exceptional half-court defense.

“Defense – that’s completely it,” Montague said. “I think it’s the sole reason why we’ve been successful. It’s tough to counter a good man-to-man defense.”

Montague is in his ninth season as the program’s head coach. He steered Essex to the 2006 state title, and will have to beat teams like Rice (11-3), Rutland (9-4), Champlain Valley (10-5), and South Burlington (12-3) to claim this year’s championship.

“It’s really tough to pick one or two teams as the teams to beat because a bunch of teams are good,” Montague said.

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