Hawks look to start fast

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The projected starting lineup for the Hawks on the hardwood this season is, from left, Austyn Brown, Tyler Collodel, Eric Buetel, Sam Merriman and Joe Overby. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
The projected starting lineup for the Hawks on the hardwood this season is, from left, Austyn Brown, Tyler Collodel, Eric Buetel, Sam Merriman and Joe Overby. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland boys basketball team is looking to pick up from where it ended last season — on a high note.

“We finished last year strong and we hope to start off the year a little bit quicker than last, but we have the players to do it,” said head coach Tom Hunt, who is entering his eighth season as skipper.

After starting out last season 1-5, the Hawks turned things around. Woodland finished the regular season 7-7. The Hawks missed out on the Naugatuck Valley League tournament due to a tiebreaker, but earned the 25th seed in the Class M state tournament — marking the fifth straight year that the squad had qualified for states.

Woodland finished the year 8-13 after falling in the first round of states, but the strong finish to the year can be a building block for Hunt.

The Hawks are poised to improve on last year’s record, even if they will be losing arguably the best player the school has ever called their own.

Tanner Kingsley, the school’s all-time leading scorer for the boys, graduated leaving a production gap that Coach Hunt will have to account for within his roster this year.

“Tanner was a key part of our offense last year and we have a couple guys who will try and replace his production this season,” Hunt said.

Woodland seniors, from left, Austyn Brown, Joe Overby, Sam Merriman and Kyle Soisson will lead the Hawks this season. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland seniors, from left, Austyn Brown, Joe Overby, Sam Merriman and Kyle Soisson will lead the Hawks this season. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Hunt expects seniors Sam Merriman, Austyn Brown and Joe Overby to step into the starting lineup to provide the type of efficiency to improve on last year’s record. Junior Tyler Collodel will take over the point guard position for the Hawks as their floor general to help keep their offense flowing as the pace of the game picks up. Pace is an area Hunt emphasized as the Hawks will have to make up for a lack of size.

“We aren’t the biggest team out there, so we will have to rely a lot on our transition offense to put up points,” Hunt said. “We’ve done a lot of running in practice and are looking good so far.”

Woodland opens up the season on the road against Oxford at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Hawks will return home to host Kennedy Dec. 19.