The Rice Memorial High School boys basketball team saw orange signs on its detour before taking the court to face Jamesville-DeWitt (N.Y.) last Friday night.
The color is unavoidable inside Syracuse University's Carrier Dome, especially when coach Jim Boeheim's Orange are mid-practice and you're courtside.
But the Green Knights' pit stop was a secondary perk on their two-game road trip. Later that night, Rice suffered their second defeat of the season against Jamesville, a central New York powerhouse led by guard Jafar Kinsey, a Robert Morris commit.
The trip -- and Carrier Dome visit -- helped round out the regular season schedule for the Green Knights (7-2), thanks to a connection with current Jamesville assistant Keith Cieplicki, the former Rice standout and women's basketball coach at Syracuse.
Yet coach Paul Pecor's squad wasn't the only Division I title hopeful to travel several hours to track down top-flight competition this year. St. Johnsbury, last year's runner-up, traveled to eastern Pennsylvania in December for two games as well. The resulting losses against Allentown Central Catholic and Pennsbury were the first of the year for the Hilltoppers (7-2), but also valuable lessons.
"They were terrific teams," Hilltoppers coach Tom O'Shea said Wednesday night. "Allentown Central Catholic Academy is 14-0 and currently ranked third in their division in Pennsylvania."
Pennsbury, meanwhile, was 11-2 and ranked 10th in the state's top division, said O'Shea, whose Vermont team played them to a 64-50 contest.
"They expose your weaknesses when you play teams like. They're really quick," O'Shea said. "It was fun, I thought the kids enjoyed it getting out of town. It got the kids a chance to play against high-, high-level high school basketball."
OT is Paul's time for N.C.
Ryan Paul hasn't just shown a knack for game-winning goals. He's got a flair for the dramatic.
The North Country senior forward clinched the Falcons' last two wins -- Saturday at Rutland and Monday at Hartford -- with overtime strikes. The back-to-back deciders weren't the first ones this year, either.
Paul, whose 26 points through Wednesday had him fighting for the team lead with Ross DeLaBruere, also helped topple BFA-St. Albans on the road on Dec. 14 with a hat trick that included an overtime goal.
"He's got an unbelievable shot for high school hockey. He's probably got one of the hardest shots in the state and he can get it off quick," Falcons coach Ryan Jacobs said. "All three scenarios, he got it off quick and they caught the goalie by surprise, I think.
"It's just one of those things where when it comes down to it he's one of those guys you want on the ice, he's going to get it done."
Brody earns win in debut
St. Johnsbury goaltender Bea Brody earned a win in her first start for the Hilltoppers -- a wild, 10-5 victory over Burlington last Saturday.
Then, on Wednesday, she split time in net during another win for St. J (7-5).
And she wasn't the only girl to leave her mark in high school boys hockey last week. Lyndon junior Danica Norcross netted her first varsity goal Wednesday night against Brattleboro.
Vikings coach Jim Davis described it as a classic redirected effort in front of goal for the second-line center, who opted to remain with the boys team instead of joining another Lyndon girl participating on the Northfield squad.
"In her mind she's one of the guys," Davis said. "This is her team."