Vermont-NEA Scholars' Bowl

2002 State Tournament Final Four

Essex High wins second academic state championship

BURLINGTON -- Essex High School scored a pair of hard-fought victories to capture the 19th Vermont-NEA Scholars' Bowl on April 13, 2002 at the University of Vermont's Campus Center Theatre.

Essex built an early lead and held on to defeat Burlington High School in the semifinals and then got hot in the closing minutes to top Champlain Valley Union High School in the title game and win the state's annual high school academic championship for the second time.

With their win, the Hornets earned the right to represent Vermont at the Panasonic Academic Challenge, a national tournament held annually at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. This elite tournament is scheduled for June 22-25 at Disney's Contemporary Resort and Conference Center.

Essex team members are seniors Andrew Bickford, Peter Ebbers and Jimmy Vanzo, junior John Son, sophomore Jack McClintock, and freshman Kyle Bokash. The team is coached by Sue Pasco.

In Saturday's semifinals, Essex opened a commanding 120-10 first-round lead against Burlington. The three-time defending champion Seahorses tried to stage a final-round comeback, but Essex countered every Burlington challenge and advanced with a 240-200 victory. Champlain Valley then dominated the first half of its game against Hanover (N.H.) High School and coasted to a place in the final with a 335-100 win.

The championship game was close from the start and was tied at 85 entering the final round. After Essex jumped on top Champlain Valley managed to take the lead at 155-150 with about four minutes remaining, but the Hornets reeled off 40 consecutive points to open an advantage they would not relinquish. The final score was 210-180.

Essex, which won its only other state championship in 1995, was competing in the Final Four of the state tournament for the fourth time in eight years. The Hornets lost to Lyndon Institute in the championship game in 1998 and reached the semifinals last year.

The Scholars' Bowl is an academic competition in which teams of high school students are awarded points for correctly answering rapid-response questions. This season 32 schools competed in the tournament.

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