Young Hawks show tenacity, fight

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BEACON FALLS — Despite youth and inexperience all over the court, there’s one thing the Woodland girls basketball team hasn’t done so far this season: Lie down for a good team.

That was again the case last Thursday against Seymour, one of the leading contenders in the Naugatuck Valley League, in a chippy home game for the Hawks.

Trailing by 20 and on the verge of being blown out by their rival with a few minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Hawks played their best basketball down the stretch to make the final score a respectable 50-40.

“They’re about to blow us out, and four freshmen and a sophomore got us back into the game by playing hard,” Woodland coach Jess Moffo said. “The next four years, I think we’re going to be OK. The last 6 minutes of the game we played with an NVL tournament contender. They handled it and did a good job.”

Most of the scoring for Woodland (2-6) against Seymour (7-3) came from its freshman class. Riley Kane led the way with 10 points, followed by Andra Bojka with eight, Gabby Mastropietro with seven, and Kylie Bulinski with four. Senior Hana Bojka added eight and junior Jill Barbarito tacked on three.

“Riley Kane did an awesome job,” Moffo said. “Bulinski is starting to shape up. She can realistically be a starter for the rest of her career if she plays like this.”

Recent games haven’t come without mistakes. Woodland dug a hole against Seymour with some sloppy play and mistakes, and in a Jan. 8 game against Oxford, the Hawks played a poor second half to squander a 12-point halftime lead and suffer a 42-35 loss.

“We have to limit the turnovers, limit the mistakes, stop dribbling to the corner and along the sidelines,” Moffo said. “Once we get away from what (opponents) want us to do, we’ll be fine.”

But there have also been bright spots in recent weeks. The Hawks earned their second victory Jan. 4 against an Ansonia team that has been among the NVL’s best during the first half of the season.

Woodland forced overtime in that game by outscoring the Chargers, 18-9, in the fourth quarter before coming away with a 41-38 victory. Mastropietro led a balanced scoring attack with 10 points, while Hana Bojka had nine, Barbarito eight and Andra Bojka six.

Then there was the positive fourth-quarter effort against the Wildcats in a game that tested the composure of players on both sides.

“Their confidence is getting up,” Moffo said. “Yeah, we’re 2-6, so to keep their heads up is hard. But I told them to be proud of themselves. We lost a tough one to Oxford when we were up 12 at halftime and we freaked. (Against Seymour), we were down 19 and we didn’t freak. That’s a plus right there.”

Woodland will host Kennedy on Monday before traveling to Derby on Wednesday and Torrington on Friday.