WOLCOTT — Everybody around Woodland basketball seems to agree—these are the games the Hawks need to win. They just hope the wins come a little easier than the Black and Gold’s come-from-behind, 51-49 victory over Wolcott at the John H. Morris Gymnasium Friday night.
“This isn’t something we want to have to do very often,” head coach Tom Hunt joked after his squad rallied from a 19-point halftime deficit.
Four Hawks scored in double figures, including senior guard Ryan Genua and sophomore forward Ryan Angeloszek, who scored 12 points each, all but one of which came in the second half. Those efforts, plus senior forward Bryan Spickle’s 14-point, 10-rebound game and senior guard Shaine Thompson’s 13-point, six-assist, four-board performance, helped Woodland to overcome a 37-18 score at the half. The Hawks outscored the Eagles, 33-12, in the second half.
Woodland’s third-quarter showing was the turning point in the game, as the Black and Gold trimmed the Eagles’ lead to 43-37, helped by Angeloszek’s eight points at the rim. The hot shooting Wolcott displayed throughout the first half was nowhere to be found, thanks to an intensified Woodland defense.
“Before the game, we were coming in pumped because we thought we were going to instill our will on [Wolcott],” Hunt said. “But they pushed us, and we took it. We didn’t do a good job of boxing out in the first half. But we said at the half that we were going to do the pushing in the second half. We were going to run people off screens, box out and get to the basket, instead of settling for jumpshots.”
The Hawks managed to cut the deficit to 43-39 with 7:35 left in the game, after a fast-break layup by Genua. Wolcott finally started to respond, hitting a pair of free throws and a three to re-extend the lead, to 48-41, with 6:30 remaining.
Genua, though, continued to take over the final period, taking a great pass in the lane from Spickle for an easy lay-in, followed by a pair of free throws. The Hawks’ run gained more momentum after another Angeloszek layup and a perfect trip to the charity stripe by Thompson mad it 48-47 with 3:30 to go.
After Wolcott tacked a point onto its lead with a free throw, Woodland made another charge to the basket. Thompson missed a potentially-tying layup, but Angeloszek was waiting again and managed an athletic tip-in to tie the game at 49 with 2:32 left.
“That was a fantastic tip-in and putback,” Hunt said. “He’s such a great stabilizer for us. He’s sneaky long with his length and uses his body as good as anyone. He creates space for himself and is always around the rim.”
The Hawks buckled down on defense yet again to stop the Eagles and the Hawks capitalized, as Spickle hit a 15-footer to give Woodland its first lead, 51-49, with 1:20 remaining.
Genua had a chance to ice the game with a pair of free throws with 35.4 seconds left but clanged both, leaving the door open for the Eagles. But the Hawks’ defense, which played so well in the second half, held Wolcott for the entire 30-second possession to claim its first win of the season.
“We talked about guarding the wings and making someone uncomfortable with the ball take the last shot,” Hunt said of the game-clinching defensive stop. “We did a real good job on Mike Vaccarelli and Lamarr Robinson, and the shot missed. … That’s a win we needed, and we got it.”