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Mar. 10, 2008
Vermont Frost Heaves & New Hampshire Millrats —#1 & #2 in the ABA Final Eight

This just in from Alex, the Vermont Frost Heaves’ President & GM. In Quebec City on March 27-30 the American Basketball Association will play its Final Eight Championship where the Frost Heaves/Millrats rivalry will likely take center stage.

Since I last checked in with the blogosphere, the Vermont Frost Heaves have won 17 of 18 games to close out the regular season. The only nagging issue with our 32-4 record is that all four of those losses have come to the same team, our neighbors in what some of us in Vermont like to call "the Upside Down State," the upstart Manchester (N.H.) Millrats.

After launching the Frost Heaves in December 2005, I heard from a friend in New Hampshire. He jokingly vowed to start a pro basketball team of his own, the New Hampshire Potholes, to go gravel-to-gravel with us and our nickname. My buddy never made good on his threat, but after the Frost Heaves won the 2006-07 American Basketball Association title in our first season, another ABA owner in New England swung into action. Cape Cod Frenzy president Ian McCarthy put his Massachusetts team on the shelf and, like so many residents of the Commonwealth before him, fled north to New Hampshire to found the Millrats.

The 'Rats got off to a quick start, beating us three of the first four times we played. In a December visit to the Barre Municipal Auditorium, Manchester gnawed back from a 41-14 first-quarter deficit to win, and this post popped up on the Frost Heaves' fan forum: "The first known rule is never start a major land war in Asia; the second is never bet against a Sicilian in a game involving death; and the third is you don't beat the Frost Heaves twice in a row!"

But with that victory-on the heels of an overtime win at Southern New Hampshire University-Manchester had done just that. That same fan-forumite asked, "Who will our pied piper be to free out cities from these cellar dwellers?"

It turned out to be a collection of Frost Heaves, as Vermont won two of the next three from Manchester. In those games the two teams played to a standoff across the frontline, but our guards finally took care of the ball in the face of the Millrats' defensive pressure. And in the last of those three, Vermont's little Dwuan Rice came off the bench and proved to be every bit the match for the Manchester backcourt.

Also in that game, tempers flared, and the league wound up suspending two Millrats for a total of 13 games, and one of our guys for one.

Referees decided to call the game off 49 seconds short of the buzzer. Peace prevailed in the two teams' final meeting, which Manchester won to take the season's series 4-2.

We nonetheless wound up rated No. 1 in the ABA Power Rankings, with the Millrats right behind us at No. 2.

We'll be eyeing each other from opposite sides of the draw at the ABA's Final Eight Championship, set for March 27 to 30 as part of the 400th birthday celebration of Quebec City-neutral ground for what may well be the final chapter in this story.

All games will be Webcast, for free...

For those of you unable to follow the action live or on archived rebroadcast, look for an update right here on the Team Clif Bar blog sometime around April Fool's Day.

-Alexander Wolff

Photos courtesy of Roger Crowley (
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Le Sensation American
Team Clif Bar

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