Woodland succumbs to Weaver’s pressure
BEACON FALLS — With about 6 minutes to play in last Saturday’s Class S state tournament second-round game, it looked like the Woodland boys were headed for their first appearance in the basketball quarterfinals since 2005.
But the No. 9 Hawks saw their eight-point lead erased in a hurry by No. 25 Weaver, which finished the game on a 28-8 run to come away with an 88-76 victory.
The Beavers outscored the Hawks 32-15 in the fourth quarter, including a 14-of-16 performance from the foul line.
“We shot 50 percent from the line during the regular season,” Weaver coach Charles Silvan said. “It’s been a point of emphasis for us. We’ve tried everything except bringing in a psychiatrist. For some reason in the postseason it’s working.”
Woodland (13-10) led by as many as nine late in the third quarter and took a 68-60 lead with about 6 minutes to play in the fourth after a Rahmi Rountree layup and a Dave Uhl free throw.
“When we got the lead up to eight points, we were getting easy looks,” Woodland coach Tom Hunt said. “We were trying to keep getting those easy looks but it got a little fast for us and it got away from us.”
Weaver (10-12) took over by boosting its tempo, scoring 28 of the game’s next 34 points. Joseph Brown completed a three-point play on the Beavers’ next trip before Chris Burt (17 points) hit the first two of his eight free throws in the final period to make it a 68-65 game.
The Hawks stayed just ahead over the next few trips before Weaver heated up from beyond the arc. The second of two straight 3-pointers by Burt tied the game at 73-all with 3:39 to play, then Nick Meadows drained a long ball to give Weaver a 76-73 lead.
“That was the turning point,” Hunt said.
Meanwhile, the Beavers, who were set to play in the state semifinals Wednesday, turned up their pressure defense and earned a series of stops and steals. The Hawks made just three field goals over the final 6 minutes.
“We were trying to make stops,” Silvan said. “(Tanner Kingsley) was on fire, (Rountree) was creating basketball plays all over and (Uhl) was good with the ball. They’re tough to guard because they’re so balanced.”
Weaver pulled away with its free throw shooting. Burt made all six of his attempts inside the last 2 minutes, while Ashon Avent and Ke’Andre Fair each made perfect trips.
Fair, a freshman guard, was the Beavers’ star. He led the team with 24 points, doing most of his damage in an ultra-competitive first half that saw nine ties and five lead changes. Fair had 14 points at the half, while Weaver worked 11 players into the game.
Woodland utilized just a six-man rotation and dealt with foul trouble throughout the game. Kingsley and Rountree both had two fouls at halftime while Uhl picked up three, including a technical foul that allowed Weaver to tie the game at 36-all late in the half.
Kingsley and Josh Jones traded 3-pointers inside the last 30 seconds of the second quarter to create a 39-39 deadlock at the break.
“Any time we made a big three they came back with one of their own,” Hunt said. “They never let one of our threes go unanswered.”
Woodland seemed to figure out Weaver’s full-court pressure after a rocky start in the first quarter when two straight steals gave the Beavers easy layups and an 8-3 lead. The Hawks kept on the gas into the third when they mounted an 11-0 run to take a 61-52 lead.
Kingsley (team-high 24 points), Chamenko (17 points, 14 rebounds), Shane Classey and Kenny Koch all scored during the streak. But Weaver revamped its pressure in the fourth, grabbing a few of its 16 steals to reverse the momentum and pull away.
“My hat’s off to my team,” Hunt said. “They fought for 32 minutes and left everything on the floor. Were we tired? Yeah. A lot of these kids have logged a lot of minutes all year. But I couldn’t ask any more from these kids than they gave tonight.”