BREAKING: V. Boys 1 Make History Despite Championship Loss

In NEPSAC AA title game, Gators fall to Bradford Christian Academy, 81-58.
Illustration designed with Canva.
Illustration designed with Canva.
Hayden Friel

After an exhilarating 63-62 upset win against the second-seeded Cushing Academy at the Penguin’s home, the seventh-seeded Gators extended their victory run by overcoming the sixth-seeded Wichendon School 71-68 on Saturday, also away from home.

Their journey culminated in a historic first appearance at the NEPSAC AA Championship at Western New England University yesterday, but ended in an 81-58 defeat to Bradford Christian Academy, the defending league champions.

For those unfamiliar with high school basketball, Head Coach Tom Nelson said, it can be difficult to comprehend the sheer level of achievement attained by his team.

“We’re competing against schools that have significant advantages, including the ability to recruit nationally and internationally,” Nelson said. “These schools often have multiple Division I players. They possess considerable recruiting power and financial resources. We’re not operating on the same level in terms of resources and recruitment. However, we still manage to compete effectively—and win.”

For Bryce Dortch ’24, who is headed to play DI basketball at Rutgers next fall, this season holds a special place in his heart.

“It being my senior year, I wouldn’t have wanted it to go any other way, even if we did come up short,” Dortch said. “Just the journey we had all season was special I think I am definitely going to miss joking around with my friends. When you see us all together, all you hear is us laughing. Moments like that I am going to miss.”

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
  • Windston Legentus ’26 introduced by the game announcer.

  • Cole Craffey ’26 warms up before the game.

  • Pointgaurd Windston Legentus ’26 drives the play.

  • The team puts all hands in before taking the floor.

  • Andre Mills ’23 looks for the open shot.

  • Head coach Tom Nelson goes over a play at timeout.

  • Associate Head of School for Academic Affairs Joe Iuliano cheers on the team with his son, Grant Iuliano ’18.

  • Head of School Judith Guild cheers on the Gators with her husband, Bill, as Math Department Chair Nancy Bradely smiles in the backround.

Navigate Left
Navigate Right

Ryan Hurst ’25 echoed Dorch’s sentiments.

“Despite having a slow start to the year, we turned around the season by sticking together,” Hurst said. “We played one of the toughest schedules and our ability to stay together really fueled our playoff run. Being a part of a team that made Brimmer history was really something special—and I am hopeful we can make it back next year.”

The Gators went 0-3 for the first three games of the season, losing against Bradford Christian Academy in the season opener, 68-62. The team then fell to New England basketball juggernauts New Hampton School (95-88), and Mt. Zion High School (73-72).

The team made a significant comeback in late November, securing an 85-79 victory over powerhouse Worcester Academy and achieving greater consistency with a 10-8 league record before advancing to the championships.

Nelson strategically planned for a challenging start to the season, playing against the toughest teams early on.

“Going into the season, most people would say you have a young team,” Nelson said. “Of course, I had Andre and Bryce coming back, but for the most part I had a very young, inexperienced team. Even the kids that were sophomores had never played at this level before. So I said, ‘well, let’s play a harder schedule so I get them prepared and if they can expedite the learning curve, then we’d be able to maybe have a chance at the end of the year to do exactly what we did.'”

Before the playoffs, the team had secured victories in seven consecutive league games. However, a loss to the non-divisional opponent, Wilbraham and Munson, served as a wake-up call.

“It reminded the team that yes,we’ve been winning, but we can easily lose,” Nelson said. “I think that helped us win against Cushing, which went 13-2 for the season, and then prepared us to be ready to win a one-possession game against Winchester.”

Editors’ note: This is a developing story. This article was updated Monday, March 4 at 2:56 p.m. to include insights from Bryce Dortch and Ryan Hurst. The same day, the story was also updated at 3:58 p.m. to include insights from Head Coach Tom nelson. Please check back later for additional updates.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
We cover community announcements.
David Cutler
David Cutler, Adviser
Mr. Cutler is a 2002 graduate of Brimmer and May. He also teaches American History, Latin American History, Government, and Popular Culture in American History. Outside of teaching and writing, he enjoys superheroes, comic books, and spending time with friends and family.

Comments (0)

The Gator does not accept anonymous comments to any of its social media feeds or posts.
All The Gator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *