Hawks soar late to break Hearts, continue tourney run

WATERBURY — The Woodland girls basketball team trumped Sacred Heart, 56-45, last Friday night at Alumni Hall after a fourth-quarter offensive surge led by freshman Andrea Piccolo and senior Heather Framski.

The 10th-ranked Hawks (18-6) found themselves down, 38-33, at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Sacred Heart’s Jen Massicotte opened the period with a pair of baskets to extend the No. 7 Hearts’ lead to 42-35, but it wasn’t enough to keep Woodland at bay.

With 3:40 left to play, Shannon Meany tied the game at 43, followed only seconds later by Carli Mariotti’s successful foul shot, giving the Hawks a lead that they would maintain for the rest of the game.

Framski’s three-point play capped a 12-1 run giving Woodland a 47-43 lead with 3:26 left. Sacred Heart (16-7) cut the lead to 48-45 with 1:54 remaining, but the Hawks answered with an 8-0 run, mostly on free throws, to seal the game.

Staying consistent with their foul shots was crucial to Woodland’s victory, and perhaps it was the Hearts’ inability to follow suit that lost them the game.

“If they had made all their foul shots they probably would have beaten us by 15,” Cheney said. “I have to give Sacred Heart credit.

Sacred Heart is an excellent team. We played them once before and we knew coming in that obviously it was anybody’s game, especially when you’re playing them at home.”

In all, Woodland outscored Sacred Heart, 23-7, in the fourth quarter to pull away with the win. The charge was led by Piccolo, who scored six of her team-high 20 points in the period.

“My freshman, Andrea Piccolo, you know I couldn’t ask for more from a freshman,” said Cheney. “She had 22 in another game. She’s definitely come a long way.”

“I think we really pulled it together,” Piccolo said. “We showed a lot of heart and we pulled through.”

Lindsay Feducia was 8-for-8 from the line and finished with 10 points while Framski had nine points and 10 rebounds.

The game began in a less than spectacular fashion, as both teams found it difficult to get the ball inside, relying instead on outside shots that rarely hit their mark. Woodland led, 8-3, after the first quarter.

The offenses awoke in the second quarter and Sacred Heart took over, outscoring Woodland, 23-12. Sacred Heart’s Jenna LoRusso made several intense drives down court for points before Massicotte tied the game at 20 with 55 seconds left in the period. LoRusso followed with a quick basket and Elena Colaci hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Sacred Heart a 25-20 halftime lead.

Besides a particularly scary moment in which Feducia went down hard after a Sacred Heart drive (she returned later in the period), the third quarter was relatively slow going until Massicotte hit her second 3-pointer of the quarter with a little more than 3 minutes to play. The Hearts took a five-point lead into the fourth.

Massicotte led Sacred Heart with 23 points, followed by LoRusso with 14.

Cheney credited the will of her team for helping to pull out the win.

“A lot of people on this team … they did not want to lose,” Cheney said. “They want to go as far as they can. They knew deep down inside that if they brought their A-game that they would win. For these kids it’s great. I couldn’t ask for more from my seniors.”

The win advanced Woodland to the Class M quarterfinals for the first time in program history. The Hawks beat No. 23 Waterford in the first round last Tuesday and were set to visit No. 2 Windham in the quarters.

Cheney acknowledged the team has work to do to beat the Whippets (19-3), who beat No. 31 Watertown, 51-28, and No. 18 Morgan, 67-44, in their first two games.

“It comes down to just working on the things that we know we can do to win,” Cheney said. “Obviously we have to work on our man-to-man offense—we saw that tonight—and just work hard on the little things that we know how to do.”