Dramatic finish

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Woodland and Derby go down to the buzzer

Woodland’s Richard Rousseau (32) banks in a shot Tuesday night in Beacon Falls versus Derby. Derby won the game, 62-60, at the buzzer. Derby won the game, 62-60, at the buzzer. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Richard Rousseau (32) banks in a shot Tuesday night in Beacon Falls versus Derby. Derby won the game, 62-60, at the buzzer. Derby won the game, 62-60, at the buzzer. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — With 16 seconds left, Austyn Brown made a shot off the window off an inbounds pass from Sam Merriman to give Woodland a one-point lead over Derby. But, 16 seconds proved to be too much time left on the clock as Derby drove into the teeth of the Woodland defense.

Ralph Kemper dished it off to Faris Korenic (14 points) and the three-point shot from the top of the key settled into the net as the buzzer sounded and Derby pulled off a stunning 62-60 win over Woodland Tuesday night in Beacon Falls.

“That was a tough one to lose,” Woodland head coach Tom Hunt admitted. “We had the opportunities down the stretch to make it a two-possession game but we threw the ball out of bounds.”

Woodland (1-4) had the game in hand early in the third period as the Hawks opened up a double-digit lead.

Rich Rousseau (14 points) hit a pair at the line and then threw down a put back to give Woodland a 33-26 lead. Brown (15 points) went coast-to-coast on a steal and then converted one at the line to make it a 38-28 advantage with 6:10 to go in the period. Kyle Soisson (six points) drove the baseline for a bucket but a put back by Joe Overby (four points) was taken away on a foul.

Woodland’s Sam Merriman attacks the basket as Derby’s Sal Catovic (5) and Eric Hicks (14) defend Tuesday night in Beacon Falls. Derby won the game, 62-60, at the buzzer. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Sam Merriman attacks the basket as Derby’s Sal Catovic (5) and Eric Hicks (14) defend Tuesday night in Beacon Falls. Derby won the game, 62-60, at the buzzer. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

With 4:28 left in the third Merriman (13 points) went deep in the corner for a three-pointer to give Woodland a comfortable cushion at 43-32. But Derby (2-4) continued to scrap and claw on every possession led by Erick Hicks (17 points) and the deficit was cut to 52-45 heading into the final period.

“We are five games into the season but we still have guys out there with not a lot of varsity experience so there are going to be some growing pains,” Hunt said. “We didn’t take care of the basketball the way we should have. If we learn from these mistakes we will continue to grow as a team.”

With 6:17 to play in the game Derby took the lead 53-52 for the first time since the second period when Sam Catovic (11 points) went the length of the court on a steal.
Tyler Collodel (eight points) hit both ends of a one-and-one at the line and Rousseau threw one in out on the wing to put Woodland back on top 56-53 with 2:58 to go.

Woodland’s Austyn Brown (23) looks to drive past Derby’s Maleek Davis (1). Derby won the game, 62-60, at the buzzer. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Austyn Brown (23) looks to drive past Derby’s Maleek Davis (1). Derby won the game, 62-60, at the buzzer. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Merriman drove the lane for a bucket with 1:11 left for a 58-55 lead. Down the other end Rousseau came down with a huge rebound and Woodland had the opportunity to put the game away.

Derby put pressure on the ball and forced a Woodland turnover. Derby took full advantage hitting a put back and a pair of free throws to retake the lead 59-58 with 27 seconds left — setting the stage for a dramatic buzzer-beating finish.

“We run an up tempo game and there are going to be times where the shots go in and sometimes when they don’t,” Hunt said. “Unfortunately we had a lot of empty possessions in the final period of this game.”

The Hawks will be tested as the schedule includes three games in five days. Woodland will host Bethel on Thursday, before traveling to Waterbury on Friday to take on Sacred Heart. On Monday, the Hawks are home again to St. Paul.