"Once we got on the floor, the West Rutland fans started backing us up," Carrano recalled.
Burr and Burton lost but two games that season. One was 65 62 to Livermore Falls of Maine in Burr and Burton's own holiday tournament. The only Vermont team to topple the Bulldogs was Proctor, 77 59.
"Looking back, I felt when we won the semifinal that we just weren't going to lose," Allard said. "The kids were just so passionate. It was a matter of time. That's how confident they were."
and Rivera would play on the big team.
The program had not experienced much success for a long while and the fans became passionate about that team.
When West Rutland took the floor, it seemed their cheering section had doubled. The Bulldogs fans were cheering wildly for Westside to upset Proctor.
"Shehadi was a solid defensive player. Mike Gyra for Woodstock would score 30 35 points against some other teams and then Shehadi would hold him to 12 15 points."
They became part of a team that would capture the 1976 Class I state championship, beginning one of the most incredible runs in Vermont high school basketball history. The Bulldogs would go on to win four straight state championships and seven of nine.
"It was such a young team," Balch said. "Alex Johnson and Angel Rivera were both freshmen. We were not very well known.
The Burr and Burton fans got their wish as the Golden Horde pinned the upset on the Phantoms to win the Class M title.
"I think the fans were a huge part of it," said Greg Carrano, one of the team captains.
That pretty much told Allard the title was there for the taking.
"That team had some unique athletes like Nathan Choice and Dave Shehadi. It had speed and style. It was a colorful team. People in other towns wanted to see it, too.
"We were close with the Mount Anthony kids," Allard said.
The Bulldogs defeated Milton 55 40 to making it a southern Vermont sweep. Choice had 14 points, Johnson 13, Carrano 12 and Dave Shehadi 10.
The November sky wasn't the only thing that was gray around the Burr and Burton boys basketball team when Nike Air Max 90 Reverse Infrared practices began in 1975. Coach George "Gigi" Allard had to decide whether to have talented freshmen Alex Johnson and Angel Rivera on the jayvee squad or bring them up to the varsity. Not many practices had gone by when the decision became easy: Johnson Nike Air Max 90 2014 Women Pink
Gym for the state final against Milton. The Burr and Burton delegation was easily identified by the green and gold derbies that became a trademark.
It seemed everyone went to the games. A dozen fan buses made the trip to the University of Vermont's Patrick Womens Air Max 90 Infrared
When they joined teammates Greene, Rivera, Scott Kilburn, Don Waite, Charles Gresham, Shelton Holt, Alan Holton, Chet McLellan, Joe Colon, Jason Balch and Dale Long in receiving the trophy at midcourt, they could not have possibly have known what they had started. This was the beginning of one of the most glorious reigns in the state's hoop history.
After the Bulldogs won a third straight crown under Allard, he turned the position over to Dave Blake, a former Bellows Falls and Castleton State basketball player. The 'Dawgs never missed beat. And when the run was finally over, it was seven state titles in nine years.
"We could not have done what we did for four years without that kind of support," Rivera said.
The Manchester community embraced their Bulldogs that season like few towns ever had. When the team came back to Burr and Burton for a 30 year reunion Saturday night, that type of support was the subject of much discussion.
The team got past Northfield 51 46 in the state semifinals, with Nathan Choice leading the way with 15 points and Steve Greene adding 13.
They went up to Burlington the night before the game to watch Mount Anthony battle Burlington in the Class L state championship contest. Allard wanted to get his kids relaxed and acclimated to the Patrick Gym surroundings. They also wanted to cheer on Mount Anthony, a team they had scrimmaged.
"We had some exciting kids and they were fun to watch. It was a great time for the school," Allard said.
Dawgs recall crown that started cluster
Mount Anthony won and the next day Nike Air Max Excellerate 2
Balch said one aspect that made that 1976 title so special is that it was unexpected. The Bulldogs were coming off an 11 11 season and the Woodstock Wasps were regarded as the favorite just in their own league. When Burr and Burton defeated Woodstock early in the year, newspaper accounts referred to it as an upset.
Proctor and West Rutland would battle for the Class M championship and then Milton and Burr and Burton would clash for the Class I crown.
"It was the way the whole community got wrapped up in it," Allard said.
"But we had won some eighth grade tournaments. What stands out most is that we knew it was the beginning of something special for a long period of time.
"We had the entire town's support," Rivera said, after traveling from his home in Montgomery, Ala., where he is an aircraft mechanic for Delta Airlines. Rivera retired from the United States Air Force in 2003. "They chartered buses to games, followed us back and took care of us.
Allard said the memory that has stayed with him most is simply "the excitement of the whole community."
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