Cobzaru Sparks Perfect St. J Season

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ST. JOHNSBURY - The Hilltoppers completed their first perfect season in over two decades last night, blowing out the Burlington Seahorses 55-39 and upping their record to 20-0. St. Johnsbury does battle with South Burlington in St. Johnsbury on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

Vlad Cobzaru, the 6'7" big man from Romania, had eleven points in the winning effort, while Nova Scotia native Tristen Ross had a game-high nineteen points and local boys Griffin Comerci and Brendan O'Shea chipped in five points apiece.

The mix of local and international talent has been a recipe for success in St. Johnsbury this season.

"It definitely makes our team better," said Drew Hovey, an Academy senior. "It makes us bond better. Learning about each other's cultures, it's really special to each of us on the team."

"St. Johnsbury has a great tradition of basketball," said Tim O'Shea, the Hilltopper head coach. "A lot of good teams, teams that contended for state titles."

The Hilltoppers have been average in recent years, but the influx of international talent on this year's squad has led to a long string of W's. No Academy player is more eye-catching than Cobzaru, whose height and ability have caught the attention of many Vermonters. Across the ocean, though, Cobzaru is a budding star in Romania.

"I joined the Romanian national team one year after playing basketball," Cobzaru said. He was fourteen at the time. He came to the Academy in hopes that the prestigious school would help him on his path to becoming a surgeon. The basketball success is nice, too. And coach O'Shea is thankful for the help.

"He does a lot of things well," O'Shea said. "He's been very good, he's coachable... [we've] been fortunate, some of that kids that have come here have sped up the process."