BEACON FALLS — The Woodland boys’ basketball team celebrated senior night Wednesday by qualifying for the state tournament for just the second time in school history. The Hawks, playing in their final game of the regular season, got down to business and defeated Seymour by a 60-49 margin, making the postseason for the first time since 2005.
“These kids left everything they had on the court, and they deserve this,” Woodland head coach Tom Hunt said.
Seniors Bryan Spickle (23 points, 10 rebounds), Shaine Thompson (13 points), Ryan Genua (seven points, nine assists), and three-point shooter Eric Brandien came into the final home game of their careers, looking to extend the season.
The Hawks accomplished that by shutting down the Wildcats’ leading scorer, Kyle Moran, holding him to just nine points. Woodland needed to control the boards and got a huge effort from junior forward Yahmad Rountree, who piled up 14 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.
Woodland used a six-point first period by Spickle to forge a 12-10 advantage. Genua was all over Moran, keeping Seymour in check, and Ryan Angeloszek filled the lane, securing some hard-fought rebounds.
There were four lead changes in the second period, as the Cats got an offensive spark from Louis Krohelski, who tallied 23 total points. With 3:20 left before the half, Rountree took it down the lane for a slim, 18-17 Woodland advantage.
Seymour managed to hit some big shots down the stretch and took a 24-21 lead into the locker room at the break.
“We made some adjustments as we came out for the second half,” Hunt said. “For the most part, we were doing a good job on Moran, keeping him in check. The seniors stepped it up in the second half and showed great leadership in getting it done.”
The turning point of the game came in the third period: Woodland dominated, holding a 22-9 edge on the scoreboard to open up a double-digit lead, 43-33, heading into the final period.
Rountree went to work and began swatting away anything that came down the lane. Moran had trouble even holding onto the ball—never mind looking for his shot—because of the way the Hawks’ defense swarmed over him.
With 1:54 to go in the third, Chris Sheppard threw down a put-back to cut the Seymour deficit to 34-32. The Hawks responded with a 9-1 spurt to regain control.
But the Wildcats again clawed within two, 45-43, with less than four minutes to play. That’s when the Hawks went on another tear. Spickle scored on three straight possessions, with Genua firing passes along the baseline, to open up a 51-43 advantage at the 3:28 mark.
Five more unanswered points by Thompson, and the postseason party was already starting in the stands, with the Hawks safely in front, 56-43, with two minutes to play.