BEACON FALLS — The Woodland Hawks came into Tuesday’s battle with Ansonia with all the incentive they needed. Only two wins separate the Black and Gold from their goal of extending the season into the state tournament.
Woodland lost an earlier Brass Division contest to the Chargers by a slim, 64-57 margin so there was no reason to believe this one wouldn’t go down to the wire. Apparently, Ansonia didn’t get the memo; it led by as many as 20 and went on to win, 81-73. The Chargers (10-6) have been red hot, winning 9 of their last 11 games and are poised to battle Seymour next Tuesday with the Brass Division hanging in the balance.
The Hawks (6-10) have the tools to be a state tournament team. Bryan Spickle (16 points and 10 rebounds) is one of the most successful rebounders in the league. Shaine Thompson (14 points) is a scoring threat every time he takes the court. Ryan Angeloszek (14 points) is a proven all-around player and slashing guard. Point guard Ryan Genua (13 points) can lead the offensive attack.
On Tuesday night at the Hawks’ Nest, Woodland showed another piece of the puzzle, when Ian Bures came off the bench and almost willed Woodland to an amazing comeback, contributing eight points, seven rebounds and three steals.
So what went wrong with the Hawks’ quest to close the gap on the postseason party? Woodland had an 11-7 lead with 3:04 remaining in the opening period. Ansonia called a timeout to discuss what it was going to do next.
What it did next tilted a few heads at the Beacon Falls gym—the Chargers exploded with a 24-0 run to simply take over the game. Woodland went almost 4 ½ minutes without a point, while Ansonia ran up and down the floor with reckless abandon.
When the smoke cleared, the Chargers were standing on a 31-11 advantage, and Hawks fans could only rub their eyes in amazement. Woodland head coach Tom Hunt calmly told his team to get it down to 10 by the half.
Woodland went back to work and almost did just that. The Hawks closed out the second period outscoring Ansonia by a 19-13 margin and got within 43-37 in the second half. But the hole they dug was a little too deep, as Ansonia held on for an eight-point win against a gutsy, never-say-die Woodland team.
“We went in at halftime and tried to set attainable goals to get ourselves back in this game,” Hunt said. “We were able to get in the game in stages and got it down to three at one point. We couldn’t push through and may have gotten a little tired at the end.”
It didn’t help that Ansonia was taking aim from behind the three-point stripe, knocking down nine treys. Maurice Brown led the Chargers with a game-high 18 points, including five treys. Keshont Graham (15 points, seven assists) and Sheldon Clarke (15 points) added to the Chargers’ consistent offensive presence.
Montrell Dobbs (nine points, five steals) and Julian Sobin (nine points, 15 rebounds) gave Ansonia enough production to hold off the hard-charging Hawks.
Eric Brandien and Billy Alfiere knocked down threes, as Woodland started to make its comeback. Dan Giacomazzi and Sean Deegan began to dive to the floor, trying to secure loose balls, as the Hawks were going all out, trying to get back in this game.
To their credit, the Hawks fought back and trailed, 44-30, heading to the locker room at the half. Spickle scored on three possessions in the paint, and Angeloszek popped a few long-range jumpers to give Woodland some hope, trailing, 48-41, with 4:40 left in the third.
Thompson made a nice move around a screen for an underhanded scoop shot off the window then went coast-to-coast off a steal, and it was a 53-50 deficit at the 1:32 mark. Woodland fans were making a whole lot of noise at that point.
But Ansonia kept taking it behind the three-point arc and firing away to maintain the double-digit advantage. Brown buried one at the buzzer, as the Chargers held a 60-50 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The closest Woodland got the rest of the way was 63-56 with 4:23 left in the game. Woodland travels to Torrington Friday, looking for the first of those two wins needed to reach the postseason.