Hawks hustle to first win

Woodland’s Alma Rizvani (20) drives past a Seymour defender Tuesday night in Seymour. The Hawks beat the Wildcats, 53-37, to earn their first win of the year. –KEN MORSE


SEYMOUR — The Law of Averages in basketball states if you win the battle on the boards, you win the game. The Woodland girls did one better Tuesday as they outrebounded Seymour by an astounding 49-12 margin en route to a 53-37 win for the Hawks’ first of the season.

After starting the year against three of the Naugatuck Valley League Brass Division’s top teams in Wolcott, St. Paul and Watertown, the Hawks were primed to take out their frustrations on somebody.

They did it on Seymour with efficient teamwork, dishing 18 assists and hitting 16 of 25 shots in the paint. It was a 10-0 Woodland lead at the end of the first, and by the time Seymour scored at the 6:13 of the second the lead had swelled to 16-2.

“We came in here looking to do three things,” Woodland coach Jess Moffo said. “We wanted to rebound, play defense and score points. If we did that we would be victorious.”

Woodland outrebounded Seymour, 25-6, by halftime. Andrea Piccolo led Woodland with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Hannah Deegan pulled down 11 boards to go along with four points while Ashley Michie added four points, corralled 12 rebounds and dished out five assists.

Alma Rizvani handed out seven assists and yanked down six rebounds to go with five points. Nicole Fowler (10 points) and Brianna Pacileo (eight points) each had three assists as Woodland passed the ball three and four times inside the paint to find the open shooter.

Everyone was in on the action. Rizvani inbounded the ball to Rebecca Hale, who weaved her way through traffic going the length of the floor for a shot in the lane. Rizvani found Abbey Rosato in the paint for a shot off the window. And when Rizvani hit a pull-up jumper at the foul line it was a 24-7 Hawks lead with 1:29 to go in the half.

Seymour responded with Cindy Farrell’s three-point play before Aleesha Johnson knocked down a 3-pointer to make it a 26-14 game at the half.

The ‘Cats cut the deficit to 33-28 with 3:08 to go in the third but the Hawks’ hustle helped dominate on the glass, earning a 24-2 rebounding margin over the second and third periods.

“We were outhustled tonight,” Seymour coach Brian Cleveland said. “It was obvious that Woodland wanted this a lot more than we did.”

Woodland reemphasized its lead when Pacileo leapt high, trying to save an errant pass that was heading out of bounds. She tipped the ball to Michie, who was charging down the lane. A quick, no-look pass found Piccolo open on the right side of the iron for a nothing-but-net dagger.

Seymour misfired at the other end and Michie dished her rebound to Pacileo, who went coast-to-coast and threw one off the window to make it 41-28 after three.

The Wildcats never got closer than that. With 3:13 left Rizvani drove and tumbled after colliding with the defender. The point guard had the presence of mind to throw it into the paint, where Pacileo drained a 15-footer to open up a 49-32 lead.

Cameron Caswell, Liz Martin and Angeline Rosato came on to close out the deal in the 53-37 win.

“This team plays with so much heart,” Moffo said. “We had a couple of tough games to start the season but they never gave up. You can teach X’s and O’s but you can’t teach the kind of heart that these girls play with.”

The Hawks will host Derby on Thursday, and then will be off until Dec. 27-28 when they travel to Amity for the Candy Cane Classic. Ansonia will be Woodland’s first-round opponent in the classic.

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