Hawks face challenge down the stretch

Woodland’s Haley Andrews (10) defends Naugatuck’s Alissa McNeil (15) Jan. 24 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –KEN MORSE

BEACON FALLS — When the girls basketball season reached the midway point two weeks ago it appeared that the Hawks, who sat at 6-5, were well ahead of schedule.

After a three-point buzzer-beater to knock off a very good Waterbury Career team, the Hawks dropped four straight to fall to 6-9 and need to win two out of their final five games to secure a postseason bid.

“As a team we need to have better mental judgment of the situation we are in,” Woodland head coach Jess Moffo said.

It hasn’t helped matters that Woodland had to go up against Crosby (10-4) last Friday — a 54-44 loss — and Holy Cross (13-2) on Monday — a 62-45 defeat.

Woodland headed into the final quarter against the Bulldogs trailing 34-30 but gave up 20 in the quarter. Eliza Smith scored a team-high 18 points. Haley Andrews and Jill Barbarito knocked down 12 points each.

The Hawks were very much in the game against the Crusaders and trailed 31-26 at the half. The Hawks fell behind 47-34 going into the final quarter as Holy Cross pulled away.

“We get careless with the ball and then we get totally rattled,” Moffo said.

Smith led the Hawks with 18 against Holy Cross. Barbarito had 14 points, and Andrews added 11.

Woodland held a 25-21 halftime lead against Naugatuck last Wednesday, but the Greyhounds came out in the second half and began to run the floor.

The Hawks tried to run with them but they are not as deep as Naugatuck, and they paid the price. Naugatuck outscored Woodland 21-8 in the third quarter, and that decided the outcome in a 52-41 loss.

“Anytime you’re chasing points against a good team it’s hard to come back from,” Moffo said.

Woodland’s Paige Resnick (20) gathers the ball in the paint versus Naugatuck Jan. 24 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –KEN MORSE

The loss ended a seven-game winning streak over the Greyhounds that dated back to 2013. Woodland did manage to slow Naugatuck down in the final quarter and cut the lead to five, but it wasn’t enough to close the deficit completely.

“We had some great moments against Naugatuck,” Moffo said. “But when you turn the ball over 20 times in a game, 13 in the third quarter, you can’t expect to come out with a victory.”

Smith led the way with 12 points, and Andrews checked in with 11 points. Barbarito added seven points. Hana Bojka battled to get 10 rebounds and threw in five points.

Moffo is looking to the final five games in the regular season to steer the Hawks back into the win column and secure two more victories to extend the season.

“We just have to keep playing hard,” Moffo said. “We have to just move on to the next game and do a better job with ball security.”

Woodland will look to end the skid when they host Watertown on Friday. Next week, the Hawks have a rematch at Naugatuck on Tuesday.