Technical foul sparks Hawks’ victory

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WOLCOTT — Sometimes, all a team needs is a little motivating spark. For some, it’s an inspirational pregame speech. For others, it’s the ability to clinch a playoff berth or championship. For still others, it may be playing for a friend or loved one. For the Woodland girls Tuesday at Wolcott, it was the misbehavior of head coach Gail Cheney.

The fourth-year coach was assessed a technical foul midway through the first quarter, after her team was charged with an uncharacteristic six fouls and called for eight travels in the first four minutes of the game. It worked. The Hawks went on a 9-0 run to end the period, following the technical, to claim a 12-11 lead and finished the half on a 26-9 streak to pull away with a 58-49 win.

“It’s not the responsible thing to do as a coach,” Cheney said, as if a shamed schoolgirl. “But I had to protect my players. After that, things started to even out, and I think it pumped us up a little. Things started clicking after that.”

The Black and Gold placed four players in double figures, including senior Jen Fredericks, who scored a team-high 15 points, and junior Lindsay Feducia, who added 13. Senior Katie Alfiere notched 11 points, while junior Heather Framski was held to 10.

It was the two leading scorers, Fredericks and Feducia, who stepped up big when the Eagles tried to mount rallies at different points in the game. Wolcott reclaimed a 16-12 lead with a short burst to start the second, but it was Fredericks who led the way to a 17-4 run to stop the home team’s momentum, netting five points in the last three minutes of the half to help the Hawks to a 29-20 locker-room lead.

That wasn’t the story of the quarter, though. At the five-minute mark of the period, Cheney instructed Feducia to hold the ball just in front of the half-court line as Wolcott contently sat in its 2-3 zone. Woodland did not try to penetrate for a full minute—to the boos and jeers of the home crowd—before realizing the Eagles would remain in its base defense.

“I wanted to make them play man-to-man defense,” Cheney said of the unorthodox strategy. “I think [Wolcott head coach Rick Laferriere] would have let us hold the ball the rest of the quarter. Once I saw he wasn’t going to change, we decided to attack again.”

Wolcott hung around long enough to make a final charge in the fourth, cutting the lead to one with 3:40 remaining. This time, though, it was Feducia who took over for the Hawks. The junior aggressively drove the left side of the lane on consecutive trips down the floor for layups to help her squad on a 10-4 run to end the game and clinch the win.

“We’ve been working on attacking on offense,” Feducia said. “Coach told us to spread it out and wait for an opening, then attack it. We knew we could attack on their defense and that’s just what I did.”

“We’ve been waiting for Jen and Lindsay to show their potential all year long, and we saw it tonight,” Cheney said. “They came into their own and showed what they can do. They knew they could do it, and we knew they could do it, and they finally showed everyone.”

With Alfiere and Framski’s supporting cast coming on strong, Cheney likes her team’s chances down the stretch.

“Ultimately, we’d love to go undefeated the rest of the season,” she said. “I think it’s realistic if we play the best we can. We didn’t play our best tonight, but we still played well. I want to win every game and so do the girls.”