Woodland flips script on Naugatuck

Woodland’s Justin Marks (23) snags a rebound in between Naugatuck’s Jaden Bennett (2) and Shane Carey (21) Tuesday at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 47-41. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — A month ago, the Woodland boys basketball team suffered an embarrassing 30-point loss on rival Naugatuck’s home floor.

The Hawks flipped the script Tuesday in their chance for revenge.

Mickey Meier recorded a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Woodland outscored the Greyhounds by 11 points in the second half as the Hawks pulled away for a 47-41 upset victory.

Meier led the Hawks (7-8) in both categories, and he was especially strong in the paint during the season half. His 13 boards limited Naugy’s second chances and he added several steals in the post during the fourth quarter to keep Woodland ahead.

“Mickey did a great job of rebounding the ball all night,” Woodland coach Tom Hunt said. “When the shooter was opposite and we had the move the zone over, he was able to get a hand up in the post. Late in the game, he made two steals that gave us a chance to control the ball and make some free throws.”

Woodland made the most of its opportunity against Naugatuck, who played without its best played in Jean Lukau. Lukau, who scored a game-high 27 points during Naugy’s 69-39 win over the Hawks on Jan. 9, suffered a shoulder injury before the game.

“Without Jean Lukau, we knew that we had to defend (Derrick) Jagello and (Keywan) Garris on the outside,” Hunt said. “Our guys did a great job of making sure they were wide. We had hands up to get in the passing lanes where they didn’t have easy looks, and they weren’t able to feed the low post to get inside-out for easy looks.”

Naugatuck built a 27-22 lead at halftime, but Woodland limited the Greyhounds to just five points in the third period and nine in the fourth. Zach Bedryczuk netted six of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a key 3-pointer that put the Hawks ahead for good. Justin Marks scored five of his 13 points in the third, and Meier sank four straight free throws late in the game to ice the win.

Woodland’s Zach Bedryczuk (5) shoots over Naugatuck’s Jaden Bennett (2) Tuesday at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 47-41. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“We were able to handle pressure,” Hunt said. “We talked about limiting their runs and not stopping their runs with a timeout but stopping them with a score. Another key was to get to seven fouls first, so in both halves we were able to get to the free throw line before them. That worked to our advantage to slow them down.”

The Hawks are now on the precipice of reaching the state tournament for the first time since 2014. They need just one win in their final five games to make the Division V tourney, and they’ll have their first chance Friday at Wolcott. Woodland will return home Monday against Torrington and then will visit rival Seymour on Wednesday.

“The goal all season has been to get to eight (wins),” Hunt said. “The kids are excited for the fact that they have a chance to attain this goal we set early in the year. Their hard work in practice is paying off. We talked (Monday) about being willing to leave everything on the floor (Tuesday), and they did that.”