Woodland girls show marked improvement from last season
SEYMOUR — Woodland girls basketball coach Jess Moffo and her Hawks knew what Naugatuck Valley League Copper Division rival Seymour was going to throw at them in a crucial midseason showdown Wednesday.
The Hawks just couldn’t handle it.
Woodland allowed seven 3-pointers, including six by Alyssa Johnson, as Seymour built a 17-point halftime lead en route to a 63-46 victory before a packed crowd at Seymour High.
“Defensively, we let ourselves down,” Moffo said. “They know it and they said it at halftime. They were very upset with themselves. We knew what they were going to do, but we didn’t execute. We let them have uncontested threes.”
Woodland (7-3) wasn’t able to rally in the second half as the Hawks struggled to mount a run offensively thanks to a fruitless performance from 3-point range. While they spread out the scoring, nobody finished in double figures. Jill Barbarito, Kylie Bulinski and Sam Sosnovich tallied eight points apiece to tie for top honors.
“We pride ourselves on defense,” said Moffo, whose team also received six points each from Ava DeLucia and Riley Kane and five each by Gabby Mastropietro and Andra Bojka. “We know we have five, six, seven players who can score at any given time, so we strive to play good defense.”
When comparing this year’s Hawks to last year’s version at midseason, there is marked improvement. Woodland reached the halfway point this campaign just one win shy of a state tournament berth — something the Hawks didn’t achieve until the final night of the season last year.
Moffo knows that nights like the one in Seymour, where three Wildcats topped the 16-point mark, are unavoidable for a team that is still substantially composed of underclassmen.
“We started four sophomores,” Moffo said. “(Seymour has) some upperclassmen on that team who are great leaders and have been playing for years. We’re still young and we still go through our growing pains. If you take away the threes in the first half, we were still in the game with a young team. Last year, we probably would have lost by 40 if we’d played like that. It’s an improvement. We took our lumps today and they shot well.”
Woodland had won three straight entering the game at Seymour, including a pair of home divisional wins against Ansonia (46-41) and Oxford (40-28). Bulinski posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds in the win against the Chargers, while Bojka added 12 points and five assists and DeLucia tallied seven points and 18 boards. Barbarito led the charge against the Wolverines with 13 points, six boards and four blocks.
The Hawks are set to visit Kennedy Friday and host Derby on Wednesday.
“Hopefully we can learn from this (loss to Seymour) and move on to the next game,” Moffo said.