Hawks find a little rhythm

Woodland’s Adem Rifati (30) pushes the ball up the court as Sacred Heart’s Courie Stevenson (5) defends Monday in Beacon Falls. Sacred Heart won the game, 99-49. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Adem Rifati (30) pushes the ball up the court as Sacred Heart’s Courie Stevenson (5) defends Monday in Beacon Falls. Sacred Heart won the game, 99-49. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — After a tough start to the season, the Woodland boys basketball team broke into the win column last week with back-to-back victories.

The Hawks picked up their first win of the season Jan. 7 against Hartford Magnet Trinity Catholic Academy, 62-51.

The Hawks showed that the toughness of their early schedule helped to galvanize the team.

“We found our inner toughness that game,” head coach Tom Hunt said. “We boxed out, got some steals, and were able to turn those rebounds and turnovers into easy buckets in transition. I mean it was a real team win going up against a team that hasn’t seen us before. We limited mistakes and got up and down the floor like we wanted.”

The Hawks also won the next night against Derby, 71-54, to make two in a row.

“With the confidence from the first win we went into Derby thinking we wanted to impose our will,” Hunt said.

Woodland was outscored by one point in both of the final two quarters but had built such a sizable lead in the first two it didn’t matter.

Against HMTCA (4-2), Rich Rousseau led all scorers and posted the Hawks’ first double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

“Rich went to the boards hard and did great in transition. He is a heck of an athlete and beat guys up the floor for some easy scores,” Hunt said.

Senior captain Jon Scirpo and freshman standout Zach Bedryczuk also scored in the double digits with 10 and 14 points, respectively.

Rousseau and Bedryczuk were joined by another senior captain in the double digit scoring club in the victory over Derby (0-5). Eric Beutel scored 15 to tie Rousseau and trail only Bedrycuk’s 20 points versus the Red Raiders. Bedryzcuk has been wet from three-point range hitting ten in the two victories for the Hawks.

The two-game win streak came to an end Monday when powerhouse Sacred Heart came to town. Woodland put up a great effort in a 99-49 loss.

The Hawks forced the Hearts (7-0) to commit four charges within the first five minutes of the game showing off their toughness.

“We wanted to beat them to the line and we did that. We were shooting foul shots with two minutes left in the first half,” Hunt said.

The Hearts got out to a quick start going up 24-5 in the first quarter, but the resilient Hawks fought back and played a tight second quarter, 22-20.

“We hang our hats on playing 32 minutes,” Hunt said. “We showed that we aren’t a team that will go away and will fight through adversity.”

The Hearts cruised in the second half. All-everything guard Mustapha Heron led all scorers with 31 points for the Hearts. Scirpo and Bedryzcuk both had 14 to lead the Hawks. Scirpo hit four three-pointers for his best game from beyond the arch this season.

“Scirpo is beginning to find his range which is great because it will help us space the floor better,” Hunt said.

The Hawks fell to 2-5 on the year after a tough, 53-50 loss on the road Wednesday to St. Paul. Scirpo, who hit five three-pointers, led the way with 18 points. Bedryczuk hit on three three-pointers of his own and had 15 points.

The Hawks are beginning to feel out their lineup. Scirpo, Beutel, and fellow senior captain Tyler Colladel all start and the power forward spot has been Rousseau’s from the start, but the fourth spot has been fluid up until recently. Bedryzcuk has all but solidified his spot as the final starter with his play as of late, and has scored 14 or more points in the last four games.

“Bedryzcuk shoots the three ball with confidence and has earned his position as a freshman,” Hunt said.

Coach Hunt, for one, thinks things are just getting started for the Hawks.

“We are starting to find ourselves a little bit and will continue to get better,” he said.

One reason the Hawks might continue to improve is they were visited by seven former players at Sunday’s practice.

“These were the guys that built the foundation here with me. They came in and showed our guys how they prepare and they really took to it,” Hunt said.

Woodland will visit Ansonia Friday before hosting Holy Cross next Tuesday.