Hawks look to get on a roll

Woodland’s Jason Palmieri (23) lays in a basket in front of St. Paul’s Jack Noli (15) Jan. 3 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

ANSONIA — He may not have posted the highest totals in the box score, but Woodland senior Trey Mastropietro lived up to his name — and his nickname — in a crucial early-season win for the Hawks last week.

In a one-possession game late in the fourth quarter at Ansonia, Mastropietro drilled a corner 3-pointer to give the Hawks a cushion in their eventual 52-45 victory against their Naugatuck Valley League Copper Division rival.

The trey by Trey had fellow senior Nick DeLucia in high spirits afterwards.

“The ‘Walking Bucket’ Trey Mastropietro hit a huge shot at the end of the game,” said DeLucia, who scored seven points to Mastropietro’s five. “That corner 3 really set us over the edge and we were able to pull it out.”

Woodland improved to 3-4 after an 0-2 start thanks to a strong second-quarter effort and three scorers in double figures. The Hawks took a 28-20 lead into halftime after outscoring the Chargers by 10 in the second period.

Jason Palmieri led Woodland with 14 points, while Nate Bodnar and Nathaniel Smith scored 10 apiece. To Mastropietro, Bodnar was the key to the Hawks’ victory thanks to his defensive effort against Ansonia leading scorer Sheldon Schuler.

“Nate did an awesome job locking up on Sheldon,” Mastropietro said. “Sheldon scored a bunch of their points (21), but without Nate, he was scoring even more. He played great defense and that’s what won us the game tonight.”

Mastropietro has seen plenty of improvement throughout the first month of this season under first-year head coach John Mariano. The senior lauded his squad’s defensive efforts, especially during last month’s Cowboy Classic when Woodland won the tournament title by holding Oxford and Litchfield to under 50 points each.

Woodland’s Nathaniel Smith (5) drives to the basket against St. Paul’s Will Barton (3) Jan. 3 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“We’re just getting better and better,” Mastropietro said. “Our defense and rotations are looking good. Offensively the shots are starting to fall. We’re starting to get on a roll and want to keep it going.”

He admitted the Hawks have squandered some offensive opportunities, which may have been costly in recent competitive losses to Holy Cross (83-70) and St. Paul (74-65), but Mastropietro thinks Woodland can rack up more victories if it improves its play inside.

“We’re not scoring as much as we can,” Mastropietro said. “We’re missing a bunch of layups. We just have to get better around the rim.”

The win against Ansonia helped Woodland improve to 2-0 in NVL Copper Division play. The Hawks are set to host division rival Seymour on Wednesday, before hosting Kennedy on Friday. Woodland will wrap up its first rotation of divisional play Jan. 15 at Derby.