Hawks’ 4-game win streak ends

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ANSONIA — In a game that would be hard to describe as anything other than ugly, the Woodland boys’ basketball squad ended its four-game winning streak with a 64-57 loss Tuesday to divisional rival Ansonia, marking the Hawks’ first Brass Division defeat of the year.

While the Black and Gold placed three players—seniors Bryan Spickle, Shaine Thompson, and Ryan Genua—in double figures, they committed 21 turnovers and allowed the Chargers to bang eight three-pointers, all of which seemed to come at incredibly inopportune times for the Hawks.

“We had them playing our game,” Woodland head coach Tom Hunt said, “but we had 21 turnovers, and you’re not going to beat a team scoring 60 or 70 points with 21 turnovers. We need to get better with the ball.”

After jumping out to a 6-4 lead midway through the opening quarter, the Chargers mounted an 11-0 run, beginning at the 2:18 mark. Ansonia dominated the post during the streak, led by senior Sheldon Clarke (game-high 19 points), gaining a number of second-chance opportunities for easy scores. Only a desperation three-ball at the end of the period by Spickle ended Ansonia’s momentum and cut the deficit to 15-9.

“I think we came out a little flat,” Hunt said. “That’s something we talked about. We didn’t have a good first quarter. … I think we were getting a little bit out-physicaled. I don’t think we had an answer to [Clarke]. If we showed one big weakness tonight, we didn’t do as good a job of controlling the boards as we did against Naugatuck.”

The Chargers stretched their lead to nine with six minutes remaining in the second, on one of five three-pointers by Maurice Brown. Woodland, however, seemed to wake up on the offensive end with a 9-0 run over 3 ½ minutes to tie the game at 20 with just over two minutes left in the half. Ansonia came right back to outscore the Hawks, 10-6, the rest of the quarter, with two more key treys to take a 30-26 halftime lead.

“We wanted to put pressure on the ball to force them into making bad decisions,” Hunt explained, “but we were showing weakness on the back side and not recovering fast enough. They hit a lot of big shots at big times. Every time we tried to pull away, they hit a three to get back in it.”

Woodland erased the halftime deficit immediately in the third, thanks to four of Thompson’s 16 points. The rest of the quarter was neck-and-neck, as the Hawks took a series of two-point leads, only to be answered by a three by the Chargers. A full-court pass from Genua to Thompson with three seconds left tied the game at 41, heading to the fourth.

The fourth quarter, though, belonged to Ansonia, as it outscored Woodland, 23-16. The Hawks enjoyed their last lead at the 5:52 mark, after Spickle connected down low for two of his team-high 18 points. But, as was the theme all night, two more Charger three-balls helped Ansonia pull away with a 64-57 win.

“There were some times where we ran through the offense five or six times,” Hunt said of his team’s difficulties on offense. “We were just waiting a little longer than we should for a more open shot. Most of our points have been in the post, and we haven’t been able to open it up from the outside, so that’s something we’re working on.”