BEACON FALLS — After winning three of four games to close out last season, the Woodland girls basketball team is looking to carry that momentum onto the hardwood this year.
The late-season push didn’t propel the Hawks, who finished 6-14 last year, into the postseason. But head coach Jessica Moffo said the team can build on that success.
“We didn’t end the season how we wanted it. We were short on NVLs, we were short on states. But other teams that are 6-14 quit,” Moffo said.
Moffo said her Hawks showed their grit at the end of last year.
“We played hard. We didn’t quit and that shows me a lot. … It shows their work ethic,” she said.
The Hawks will have to replace last year’s leading scorer Andrea Piccolo, who averaged 12.1 points per game at center.
“You never replace a player like her,” Moffo said. “You just try to get someone to fill in the role. She was a once-in-a-lifetime player. Her leadership, her determination just her overall personality, she was great.”
Piccolo and Erika Tyrrell were the only seniors lost to graduation for Woodland, which returns a solid core of experienced players.
That core will be led by captains senior Becky Hale (6.3 ppg last year) and juniors Cameron Caswell (6.8 ppg last year) and Carla Piccolo (6.3 ppg last year).
Moffo said Piccolo played great last year and will help fill in the void left by her older sister’s graduation.
Hale and Caswell will guide the team in the backcourt.
“Cameron, in my opinion, I think she’ll be one of the best guards this year,” Moffo said.
Hale, who was a captain as a junior as well, will provide leadership on the court.
“She was a leader last year for us,” Moffo said. “I expect her to just jump right in.”
Woodland will also look to lean on some young players who are a year older and wiser.
Sophomores Jenna Pannone and Jen Triana will give the Hawks a presence in the paint.
“Jenna Pannone and Jen Triana played quality minutes for us last year,” Moffo said. “They’re fighting for starting spots right now. They’re going to be huge, especially down low for us.”
Moffo added freshmen Haley Andrews and Camryn Johnson will also see some playing time and give Woodland a deeper bench than last season.
With the season just days away Moffo said everyone is excited to tip off.
“I’m excited. They’re excited. I think we’re going to be in better position this year than last year,” she said.
Although the past couple of years have been rebuilding seasons for Woodland, Moffo said the goals of battling for a spot in the NVL and state tournaments remain the same — as do her high expectations.
“Our goal is as many wins as we can get. If that’s 15, 16, 17 wins, we’re going for it,” Moffo said.
Woodland hosts Torrington Wednesday at 7 p.m. to open the season, before traveling to Naugatuck Nov. 12 to take on the Greyhounds.