BLOOMFIELD — For the second time in three years, the Woodland boys were eliminated from the Class M state tournament in the first round by Bloomfield. But Tuesday night’s game was a bit different from the 2010 version.
This time, it wasn’t a 95-69 blowout pasted upon the Hawks by the eventual state runner-up. Instead, the Warhawks struggled to put away Woodland until late in the fourth quarter of a 66-52 contest.
The Hawks (11-11) trailed by eight entering the final period and cut the lead down to as few as three, according to coach Tom Hunt. But a stretch of five straight scoreless possessions by Woodland slowed its momentum before Bloomfield (12-9) stretched the lead.
Hunt said he earned a technical foul in the last minute of the game to account for the double-digit margin. Otherwise, the final score would have better indicated how competitive the game was.
“It’s not a good place to play,” Hunt said of Bloomfield. “They’re a real good team from a real good conference. It was a tough draw for us. But after being in the tournament for three straight years, the kids showed that they feel they’re supposed to be there. There was no fear. It was a different situation from two years ago.”
Sophomore Tanner Kingsley, who finished third in the Naugatuck Valley League with an average of 18.6 points per game, led the Hawks with 19. In the final games of their careers, Ryan Angeloszek scored 11 and Billy Alfiere added eight. Junior Kirk Chamenko posted 11 points.
Even though Woodland’s season ended earlier than it did last year, when the Hawks won their first state tournament game since 2005, this one will go down as a measure of continued success for Hunt.
This season marked the first time in program history that the team reached the state tournament for a third consecutive season, the first time that the team posted back-to-back .500 records, and the first time the Hawks reached the NVL tournament in two straight years.
“I thought that this group coming back with only one starter (Angeloszek) returning heading into the season, we needed some guys to get minutes to be comfortable,” Hunt said. “Tanner stepped up, which was phenomenal, Billy Alfiere was a great captain all year, and Dan Giacomazzi always worked hard. We hit our stride at the end of the season. These guys kept working all year.”
Angeloszek, Alfiere, and Giacomazzi were subjects of praise by Hunt, who have together worked to transform Woodland from a perennial loser to a more-than-respectable bunch.
“The seniors that graduate this year really have helped me build the foundation for this program,” Hunt said. “It’s a tribute to them that we’ve been to the tournament three straight years. The three captains this year set the bar for what we’ll do going forward.”
Angeloszek, in particular, has made a special impact.
“Ryan Angeloszek has definitely left his mark on the program,” Hunt said. “I’ve never had anyone work harder than Ryan did this year. People don’t understand the yeoman’s work that he did throughout his whole career. The rebounding, the defense, he did all the little things to be a complete player.”
Now that the foundation has continued to harden, Hunt said he’s already excited for his sixth season.
“With Kirk, Dave Uhl, Tanner, and Steve Baeder, those are four solid guys that I’m looking forward to continuing with next year,” Hunt said. “The younger guys now know what we need to do to keep being successful.”