Worth the wait

Bedryczuk becomes second Woodland boy to reach milestone

Woodland senior Zach Bedryczuk, left, is pictured with Woodland boys basketball coach Tom Hunt after surpassing 1,000 career points during a game versus Torrington Jan. 18 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –KYKE BRENNAN

BEACON FALLS — Four gold balloons — a one and three zeroes — floated behind the bleachers at Woodland for minute after nerve-racking minute during the Hawks’ basketball game against Torrington on Jan. 18.

All Zach Bedryczuk needed was four points to become the second player in Woodland’s boys hoops history to reach 1,000 points for his career. But with the Hawks seemingly playing on eggshells — and his sign-wielding friends in the student section gasping and groaning with every stray 3-point attempt — it seemed as though the wait would be interminable.

But finally, late in the second quarter, Bedryczuk hit his second triple of the game to push him past the 1,000-point plateau, triggering a minute-long celebration with his teammates, coaches and family.

“I got that first (3-pointer) and there was a little pressure on me, but after that second one it felt great,” Bedryczuk said. “It’s an amazing feeling. Having all my teammates over the years help me out, I can’t thank them enough. They’re the ones who helped me get to this milestone.”

One of those teammates is fellow senior Justin Marks, with whom he’s played every sport since their days in Beacon Falls’ youth leagues.

“It felt like it was never going to come,” Marks said. “He’s talked about it since I don’t even know how long ago. It was surreal. I’m proud of him.”

The fact that it took so long to achieve against the Red Raiders was a product of the nerves among everyone on the floor, according to Woodland coach Tom Hunt. The Hawks were just a little bit off throughout the first half, resulting in a 37-25 halftime deficit and an eventual 75-62 loss.

“We were just hoping to get it over with,” Hunt said. “He’s the consummate team player and he wasn’t trying to do too much. As soon as it happened, we played differently. Hats off to Zach — he never forced anything.”

Bedryczuk finished the game with a team-high 19 points. He added eight points in a 77-40 loss to top-ranked Sacred Heart on Jan. 23, 18 points in a 66-64 loss to Ansonia on Jan. 25 and 25 points in a 78-67 loss to Kennedy on Jan. 26, putting his career total at 1,066 points with seven games left in the regular season.

Only Tanner Kingsley, Bedryczuk’s longtime next-door neighbor, has more points in his career with 1,312.

“It’s good for the program,” Hunt said. “To get to 1,000, you have to be good for four years. Both of them were good for four years. It’s a tribute to them for them to be able to say that they worked hard for four years. It’s well deserved.”

Bedryczuk said that although he looked up to Kingsley throughout his childhood and entering high school, scoring 1,000 points wasn’t necessarily a goal when he began seeing significant playing time as a freshman. By the end of that season, though, he decided he could do it.

“I didn’t know that I’d get 1,000 before high school, but as I kept on going, it was a goal,” Bedryczuk said. “It’s a lot of hard work. You have to shoot a lot. You have to knock down shots when you’re wide open and some tough shots. I shoot every day, probably over 100 shots a day. You just have to keep on shooting.”

Bedryczuk, who’s generously listed at 5-foot-10 on the roster, has spent his career terrorizing opponents from the outside. He drilled four treys against Torrington and another two against Sacred Heart.

“He’s had to shoot it because he hasn’t had the luxury of being able to go inside,” Hunt said. “He’s used his skills to make up for any deficiencies in his height. He works hard to perfect his shot, and he’s got tenacity to get his shots. It’s important for your teammates to get you the ball, and his teammates have had faith in him for four years for him to get his shots. It’s a tribute to all the guys who have played with him.”

Bedryczuk’s next goal is a berth in the Division IV state tournament, which will require a few upsets down the home stretch. Woodland is 4-10 with six regular-season games left to play, including a road game Oxford on Tuesday. The Hawks will host rival Naugatuck on Friday.

“We have to make states,” Bedryczuk said. “Now it’s about the team, not just about me.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the version published in the Jan. 31 edition of the Citizen’s News to include information on games played after press time.