SEYMOUR — Though the Woodland boys basketball team headed to halftime Tuesday night leading Seymour by 10, none of the Hawks felt particularly good about it. After all, they posted just 24 points and made only one field goal in the second quarter.
Whatever happened inside the musty locker room at the break turned Woodland from sluggish to sensational.
The Hawks outscored Seymour, 47-22, in the second half en route to a 71-36 thrashing of their Naugatuck Valley League Brass Division rival.
“We needed to start doing what we do and not be pretty doing it,” Woodland head coach Tom Hunt said of his halftime message, which came after the teams played to an 8-8 draw in the second period. “I left the captains with some time to themselves at halftime to get everyone on the same page and they did a really good job doing that.”
Senior center Kirk Chamenko led the way with a career-best game, posting 32 points and 19 rebounds. Ten of those points came from the free throw line, the product of an outstanding night on the offensive glass. But he still found room to nitpick himself.
“I missed too many foul shots,” said Chamenko, who was 10-of-16 from the stripe. “I usually pride myself on making foul shots and I missed six of them tonight. That’s going to eat me for a while.”
Still, though, nearly posting the first 20-20 game in the program’s recent memory had to feel good.
“That sounds pretty nice,” Chamenko said.
Chamenko established himself in the first quarter with a pair of put-backs following offensive rebounds to help Woodland mount a lead it never relinquished. The Hawks started the game on a 10-0 run, which finished on a Chamenko layup with 3 minutes, 46 seconds to play in the first.
“Chamenko was a beast on the boards,” Hunt said. “He went up and got it. He put back rebounds like he needed. I thought he played really hard.”
The lead remained in double figures for almost the entirety of the night, save for a few possessions in which Seymour trimmed its deficit to eight or nine in the first half.
Woodland ran away with the game in the third, steadily mounting a 43-25 lead throughout the first portion of the period before finishing on an 8-0 run. The final play of the frame was the night’s prettiest as Jack Pinho stole the ball at midcourt and engineered the fast break, dishing an over-the-shoulder pass to a streaking Tanner Kingsley for an easy layup and a 51-29 lead.
The Hawks continued to impress into the fourth quarter, outscoring Seymour 20-7 down the stretch. A 3-pointer by Kenny Koch stretched the lead to 65-34 before Anthony Ross, Matt Spofford and Anthony D’Agnone added points off the bench.
In all, 12 players saw time for Woodland and nine scored.
“These kids work that hard in practice,” Hunt said of his bench. “The second team goes against the first team every day in practice, and when they get into the game it’s supposed be that easy for them. I thought tonight it showed how hard we work in practice. The second team showed they belong.”
Kingsley finished with 13 points for the Hawks while Rahmi Rountree added eight.
Woodland (9-8) followed up the victory with a 58-33 loss to Kennedy on Wednesday. The Hawks are in the thick of the NVL tournament race and were slotted as the No. 6 seed after Tuesday’s action. The top eight make the field.
“I think we can compete with anybody,” Chamenko said. “We showed that against Wilby when we beat them at their house. The NVL tournament is open to anybody and we want it.”