BY KEN MORSE
The Woodland girls basketball team is back in the hunt, riding the waves of a six-game winning streak.
The Hawks started the season with five straight wins, including grabbing the league’s attention by attention knocking off previously undefeated Seymour.
Then adversity showed up in the form of a four-game skid that included lopsided losses to Holy Cross and Seymour. That kind of scenario is always ripe with doubt and insecurities but coach Jenn Deeley was not about to let her girls fall into that trap.
Woodland went back to the basics that got them out to a quick start in the first place. Deeley also brought in some inspiration off the bench, igniting a spark to get the Hawks back to their winning ways.
“A little healthy competition never hurt anyone,” said Deeley. “We had some young girls come off the bench and start pushing for minutes, and the next thing you know we are back in the win column.”
After the four-game skid, Woodland ran roughshod over Crosby, Terryville, Harding and Kennedy. The Hawks started to feel the wheels turning again. Woodland overcame a stubborn St. Paul team, winning in double overtime, 63-58, on Jan. 28.
The Falcons used an 18-9 second quarter to take a slight 26-20 advantage into halftime. Woodland trailed, 38-24, heading into the fourth quarter before it flipped the switch.
The Hawks owned the final stanza outscoring the Falcons, 20-6, to send the game to overtime. Woodland outscored St. Paul by five in the extra sessions, 19-14, to earn a tough win.
Casey Mulligan knocked down 20 points to lead the way and Ireland Starziski came up huge 16 points (three 3-pointers, 5 for 7 free throws in overtime) while Riley Kane added 11 points.
Lindsay Koliani and Peyton Filippone, who have been contributing as of late, each scored five points while Olivia Rodriguez and Gabby Mastropietro added three points each.
“We shot 19 of 41 from the free throw line,” said Deeley. “We are definitely going to need to improve on that if we are going to be successful in the postseason.”
Woodland picked up another decisive win, 57-41, over WCA on Feb. 1, and improved to 11-4 on the season to that point. It was an 18-3 fourth quarter that sent the Spartans packing.
Mulligan scored 22 points to lead the Hawks and Mastropietro checked in with 10 points. Woodland did a good job spreading the damage around with Kane, Andra Bojka and Koliani chipping in seven points each.
“Andra (Bojka) has been out for the past three game,s so it was good to get her back out there,” said Deeley. “Just getting everyone back was a No. 1 factor, and that allowed us to get into a rhythm.
“But at the same time it helped us to develop some of our younger players. They stepped in and filled some big shoes and were very successful. We are a difficult team to defend when our guards are hitting that outside shot.”
“That really opens it up for Riley (Kane), Gabriella (Mastropietro) and Andra (Bojka) inside the paint. We need that balance to be successful. We have Ansonia twice, Derby twice and Oxford so we have a lot of division games left.”
Woodland was scheduled to face Ansonia on Feb. 8. The Hawks are slated to host Oxford on Feb. 11.
BY KEN MORSE