Hawks on the verge

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BEACON FALLS — The Woodland girls are a team on the threshold of being in the hunt, but the Hawks need to prove it by beating one of the top teams in the NVL.

Through nine games the Hawks stand at 4-5. Woodland has been in four of those five losses, dropping a three-point game to Watertown, a five-point setback to Sacred Heart, a nine-point loss to Torrington and a four-point loss to East Lyme.

“We just have to be a little more careful with our turnovers,” Woodland head coach Jess Moffo said. “We lost a few close games, and if we took better care of the ball at crucial points of the game we could have put those in the win column.”

The Hawks have proven they have three legitimate scorers in Morina Bojka, Maddie Hupprich and Eliza Smith. But without beating one of the top teams in the league Woodland may have to win the Iron Division to make the NVL tournament. With Watertown and Torrington in the Iron Division that may be tougher than expected as the Hawks sit at 1-2 in the division.

Against Torrington on Jan. 13, it was a spell in the second quarter that saw Woodland get outscored 15-6 and a four-point deficit turn into a 32-19 hole at halftime.

“We could have definitely won both the Watertown and Sacred Heart games but we shot ourselves in the foot,” Moffo said. “The Torrington game we were down 17-13 after one quarter, and then we started to try and force it and made some bad decisions.”

The Hawks showed how competitive they are as they outscored Torrington 28-24 in the second half with the help of a strong effort off the bench. Cam Johnson and Meg Sirowich turned up the defensive presence, helping to hold Torrington to just seven points in the third quarter.

“Cam Johnson always gives us quality minutes and can give us another scorer. She had 10 points against Wilby,” Moffo said. “Another strong player off the bench, especially for her defense, is Meg Sirowich.”

Jill Barbarito (5 points) and Hana Bojka came on to help spark the offense, and Jenna Pannone battled under the boards.

Hupprich led the way with 17 points, Smith threw down 14 points, and Morina Bojka added 11 points to pace the Hawks’ offense.

“Jenna, Maddie and Morina are the heart of the team that’s why they are the senior captains,” Moffo said. “They are always giving 110 percent and the rest of the team looks to them to lead the way.”

Moffo said Smith has embraced a larger role this season.

“Last year was huge for developing this team,” Moffo said. “Eliza Smith helped us out in a couple of games, and this year she had to step up big and she has.”

Moffo added that freshman Jill Barbarito has also provided a spark of the bench. She had eight points against Wilby and five against Torrington.

“If she can continue to help us out scoring in the second half of the season it will make us a more competitive team,” Moffo said.

The Hawks dropped another close one to East Lyme, 50-46, on Wednesday in an out-of-league game. Morina Bojka had a double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Hawks. Hupprich had 13 points.

Woodland will be tested coming up. The Hawks face Waterbury Career on the road on Friday and host Oxford at noon on Saturday. Next week the Hawks will host Iron Division foe Wolcott on Tuesday.

“Our goal is still the NVL and states,” said Moffo prior to the East Lyme game. “At 4-4 there is beginning to be a sense of urgency, but I’m confident we can meet our goals.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the version that appears in the Jan. 20 print edition to include game results through Jan. 19.