BLOOMFIELD — It wasn’t exactly the best ending to Woodland’s basketball season—a 95-69 Class M state tournament first-round loss to Bloomfield Tuesday night—but it will likely do little to belittle the success of this campaign for the Hawks’ program.
The Black and Gold posted the second-best record in school history (8-13) and qualified for the state tournament for just the second time ever—the first since 2005. Tuesday’s loss will probably be just a temporary memory of an otherwise-successful season.
“When I came in, my sophomore year, we were basically the laughingstock of the NVL,” senior Ryan Genua said. “Even our school was like, this team’s a joke. Now, in just two short years, we got some respect back. All in all, we did what we came in to do. We set the goal to make the state tournament, and we did it. It’s something only one other team did in school history, so that’s a positive.”
To Woodland’s credit, the No. 30-seeded Hawks hung around with third-seeded Bloomfield for the duration of the first half. They trailed, 24-18, after the first quarter and 41-30 at the half.
“They were really big and athletic, but we tried to slow the tempo,” said senior Shaine Thompson, who scored 16 points and had six assists. “We have to give big ups to our JV because they helped us out a lot, working their butts of putting pressure on us in practice to simulate the game.”
Senior Bryan Spickle, who also contributed 16 points, echoed Thompson’s sentiment.
“We didn’t know what to expect from them but coach told us that they jump and are athletic and quick. So for the past two weeks in practice, it would be the starting five against eight players on defense so they could show us what it would be like on game day.”
After trailing by just 11 at the break, Bloomfield outscored the Hawks, 28-18, in the third to take a commanding lead; after Genua was forced to sit with foul trouble, the Warhawks posted 25 points in just five minutes.
“I knew pressure-wise they were going to get into us,” Genua said. “I didn’t know that they were going to be the most athletic team we played all season. As a starter, they were definitely the most athletic team I’ve ever played against.”
Junior Yahmad Rountree added 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists for Woodland, while sophomore Ryan Angeloszek tacked on 14 points.
Those two will form the nucleus around which the Hawks will build next season, as Woodland will lose Genua, Thompson, Spickle, and Eric Brandien. The graduates all agreed that they’ll miss their teammates and this season.
“There are a lot of things I wish I could go back and change just so it could have ended better,” Thompson said, “but it was a great season with a great team and coaches. I’m going to miss it.”
“I don’t know about them, but it still hasn’t hit me that it’s over,” Spickle said. “We seniors worked hard every practice. What helped us most is we all got along with each other like brothers, and we would all pick each other up if we were having a bad game. It was the best season, and I’m gonna miss it.”