Hawks fight through tough stretch

Woodland’s Maddie Hupprich drives to the basket Tuesday versus Holy Cross in Waterbury. Hupprich scored a career-high 18 points as Holy Cross won the game, 83-41. –KEN MORSE
Woodland’s Maddie Hupprich drives to the basket Tuesday versus Holy Cross in Waterbury. Hupprich scored a career-high 18 points as Holy Cross won the game, 83-41. –KEN MORSE

BEACON FALLS — Any team can look good when it is winning. It’s the teams that pick themselves up, dust themselves off and learn from adversity that reach the peak of success.

The buzz in Beacon Falls this winter has been the sudden emergence of the Woodland girls basketball team. The Hawks raced out to an 8-1 record and qualified for the state tournament at just the halfway point in the season.

Last week, Woodland ran into the teeth of its schedule and stared adversity in the face. The Hawks took on undefeated St. Paul, a team that is averaging 62 points per game, Jan. 13. The Hawks saw their eight-game winning streak come to halt in a tough 44-39 loss.

Carla Piccolo led the way with nine points versus St. Paul. Morina Bojka and Maddie Hupprich added eight points each. Cam Caswell and Haley Andrews added seven points each as the starting five played a solid game against a formidable opponent.

Woodland got right back in the win column last Friday with a convincing 64-25 victory over Ansonia. Bojka (13 points) and Andrews (12 points) led the scoring for the Hawks. Caswell and Piccolo checked in with seven points each. Jill Chicano, Cam Johnson and Hupprich each added five points in the win, as Megen Sirowich (four points), Jen Triana (three points) and Jenna Pannone one point contributed to the victory.

So the stage was set for a showdown Tuesday night at Holy Cross, one of the NVL frontrunners, especially after the Hawks gave the undefeated Falcons quite a scare.

For a better part of the first half it was a knock-them-down, drag-them-out type of affair. Then a Holy Cross 13-point run turned a four-point nail-biter into a rout of staggering proportions as the Hawks tumbled in an 83-41 loss.

“Obviously, one game doesn’t define our season,” Woodland head coach Jess Moffo said. “I don’t think we were intimidated. We just played an undefeated St. Paul team at home and had a chance to pull it out.

“Coming in here is tough. Holy Cross is Holy Cross. It’s physical, some calls are not going to go your way but in the end we made too many turnovers to even stay in the game.”

The Hawks (9-3) certainly had no reason to hang their heads. One player who never even bothered to look up at the scoreboard was Hupprich, who tallied a career-high 18 points and nine rebounds.

Hupprich scored the first basket off the opening tip on an assist from Caswell (five assists). Hupprich gave the Hawks its second lead of the game at the 4:01 mark driving down the lane on another Caswell feed.

When all was said and done, Hupprich even battled for a put-back for the final points of the game.

Bojka tied the game twice in the opening quarter on a jumper off the window to make it a 10-10 game and then again on a three-pointer from the corner tying it at 16-16.

Holy Cross (11-1) took an 18-16 lead into the second quarter. Piccolo hit a runner in the lane and Hupprich hit a pair of free throws as the Hawks trailed by a 24-20 margin at the 5:52 mark.

Twice the Crusaders’ lead got out to six and both times coach Moffo called time not wanting things to get out of hand.

Woodland, which turned the ball over 13 times in the first quarter and was still in the game, turned the ball over on four consecutive trips down the floor in the second quarter to ignite a 13-0 run by the Crusaders.

In a span of two minutes it went from a manageable 24-20 deficit into an insurmountable 37-20 hill to climb. Holy Cross just stepped on the accelerator and built a 43-28 halftime lead and a hefty 64-36 advantage going into the final quarter.

Woodland is back in action on Friday at Watertown. The Hawks return home next week to host Wolcott on Monday and Seymour on Wednesday.