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Phat Boyz forward Bob Yefchak, left, races after Knights guard Addison Powers while trying to regain control of the ball during the second quarter of Sunday’s men’s league basketball game at the St. Monica Catholic School in Barre. Trailing the play (in gray) is Yefchak’s teammate Gabe DeAngelis, who scored the game-winning 3-pointer with two seconds remaining to trigger a 91-90 victory.
Photo: Mark Collier / Staff Photo

Phat Boyz win men’s league thriller

BARRE — The Phat Boyz men’s league basketball roster is teeming with former Montpelier High School varsity players from the past two decades.

On Sunday, the one guy who never played a minute of high school sports wound up with the ball in his hands and the game on the line. And with two seconds remaining, Gabe DeAngelis calmly tossed in a 3-pointer from the right side to secure a 91-90 come-from-behind victory over the Beavins and Sons Knights in Chelsea League action.

“Last week I told Gabe that our team needs him to pull the trigger and not think about it,” said teammate Ricky Powell, who graduated with DeAngelis. “And that’s what he did today. I know that he’s put a lot of time into the game of basketball, and it’s cool to see him flourish. Him and Mike (Perez) are really great additions to the Phat Boyz. We’re really excited about how we look this year.”

Like most men’s league teams in any sport, the Phat Boyz feature a wide range of shapes, sizes and talent levels. Perez scored 1,472 points for Spaulding High School and led the Crimson Tide to victory in the 2002 Division I championship. Powell was a senior power forward for Montpelier’s 2005 team that ended a 56-year title drought with a 45-44 win over Mill River.

But there’s also plenty of room in the Chelsea League for players like DeAngelis, a lanky late-bloomer whose vertical leap compensates for any lack of formal coaching.

“Gabe joined the team this year and he can fly — he can really jump,” said team captain Bob Yefchek, a 1997 Solons grad. “We have guys on our team from mid-20s to 37, which is our oldest player. Basketball is one of those sports where you can’t play too long, but in this league there’s people who play into their 40s. There’s three divisions in the league — A, B and C. Last year we were the runners-up in the C division, so we’re thinking we may be there again this year. But we may move up to B as well. The next two week we play against A-level teams, so we’ll test where we’re at.”

Perez paced the Phat Boyz on Sunday with 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Powell contributed 16 points and six rebounds. DeAngelis, Bob Yefchak and younger brother Matt Yefchak (class of 1999) all pulled down six rebounds in the victory, while 2002 MHS grad Steven Carrien tallied 12 points. Two more Montpelier alums making clutch contributions were Larry Rivers (class of 1998) and Tom Yefchak (class of 1994).

Among the team’s non-Montpelier players, Wayne Trusty (15 points, six rebounds) and Mike Pratt (13 points) repeatedly charged hard to the hole while maintaining a soft touch around the rim.

“On our team everybody pitches in a certain amount of money because we don’t have a sponsor, so I keep the playing time mainly equal,” Bob Yefchak said. “But in the fourth quarter, when the game’s close, we’ve got Wayne and Mike Perez and a couple really good players that we have to have in there.”

Leading the way for the Knights was Lucas Dutil, a 2011 Spaulding grad who scored 14 of his game- high 24 points in the fourth quarter. He had lots of help from his two siblings, with John Dutil racking up 15 points and Leo Dutil tallying 10 points and five rebounds.

“Both of my brothers can shoot 3-pointers pretty good, so I like to drive and then dish to them in the corner,” Lucas Dutil said. “I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Rounding out the scoring for Beavins and Sons were Chris Gaboriault (seven points, nine rebounds), Addison Powers (12 points), Nate Olson (11 points) and Chris King (nine points). A trio of early jumpers from Powers helped push Beavins and Sons out to a 15-14 lead, but Trusty answered with a pair of baskets. A few minutes later Perez converted a four-point play at the foul line, setting up a 29-17 advantage after the first 10-minute quarter.

DeAngelis came alive midway through the second quarter to help his squad dominate the glass. But shaky perimeter defense plagued the Phat Boyz, and Nelson’s 3-pointer from off the glass cut the deficit to 45-39 just before the halftime buzzer sounded.

Beavins and Sons scored on their first five possessions of the third quarter, with 3-pointers by Gaboriault and John Dutil knotting the score at 50. A few minutes later Olson scored six unanswered points, opening up a 59-55 advantage, and subsequent shots by King and Leo Dutil stretched the lead to 63-55. The Phat Boyz trimmed the margin to 65-61 by the end of the quarter, thanks to a pull-up jumper in transition by Rivers and a putback from Perez.

Powers and John Dutil both drained 3-pointers to kick off the fourth quarter, though they were matched by baskets from Carrien, DeAngelis and Pratt. The Phat Boyz still trailed by five points when fast-break baskets by both Carrien and Powell sliced the gap to 78-77 with 4:40 remaining.

At that point Lucas Dutil took over the game, throwing a major wrench in the Phat Boyz’ comeback plans. After dropping in a 3-pointer, Dutil made three straight foul shots and an off-balance jumper before knifing along the baseline for an 88-86 advantage. John Dutil followed with another free throw, though Powell promptly set up Trusty in the paint at the other end with 20 seconds left to play.

Another 1-of-2 effort from the line by Beavins and Sons opened the door for the Phat Boyz, who regained possession when Perez crashed the defensive glass with 14 seconds remaining. There was no established plan for the final shot, but a slightly broken play still featured a golden ending when DeAngelis caught the ball and hesitated momentarily before serving up the money ball.

“He never played varsity ball? What’s up with that?” Perez said after the victory. “But that was a big-time shot and we ended up winning the game.”

Lucas Dutil dribbled twice and heaved a halfcourt shot at the buzzer, only to watch the ball bounce off the right side of the rim. It marked the third straight last-second loss for his team, which has dropped all three of its games by a combined four points.

“There’s a lot of talent in this league,” Lucas Dutil said. “There’s a lot of guys where you can tell they played in high school, and there’s a lot of teams that played together a lot. Even if they weren’t great individually, they’re good as a unit.”

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