BEACON FALLS — Tuesday night was senior night for the Woodland girls, and the Hawks couldn’t have picked a better time to give the hometown fans something to cheer about.
The Hawks only led the game once during regulation but forged seven ties with Ansonia and sent the game to overtime. \Woodland exploded with an 8-0 run in overtime to defeat the Chargers 45-37.
“It was an unbelievable finish,” senior co-captain Carli Mariotti said. “It was a nice way to finish the season and our career. We finally found a way to finish a game. It’s been a tough season, and we lost a few games down the stretch. But we found a way to finish it tonight and it feels awesome.”
Seniors Jehna Kemp, Jamie Minoski, and Alyssa Skibo along with Mariotti and co-captain Shannon Meany were introduced to the crowd prior to the start of the game.
Ansonia 14-6 on the season proved to be a handful for the 6-14 Lady Hawks. But Woodland, as they have shown throughout the season, possesses the ability to leave it all out on the court.
Mariotti (11 points, 20 rebounds) brought Woodland back from a fourth-period deficit hitting three baskets on the baseline — each shot to tied the game.
Sophomore Andrea Piccolo (eight points, 11 rebounds) buried a shot in the lane, then hit both ends of a one-and-one at the free throw line with under a minute to play to knot the game at 37-37.
Both teams had chances to decide the game down the stretch. But, neither could get it done. Ansonia was poised to win the game when Tierney Lawlor was fouled with just 10 seconds to play. Lawlor, the Chargers leading free throw shooter at 65 percent a game, couldn’t get the shot to go down, and this game was headed to overtime.
If there was any doubt about the Lady Hawks resolve it was quickly answered in overtime. Piccolo put Woodland on top by crashing the boards for a put-back.
On the other end of the court, Mariotti ripped down a rebound before taking it up the floor and throwing in a baseline drive to open up a 41-37 cushion with 2:07 left.
The Hawks harassed the Chargers with a strong defensive effort led by Nicole Fowler (eight points, three steals) and Brianna Pacileo (eight points, four steals). With under two minutes to go, Pacileo came away with a steal and Woodland called a timeout. On the inbounds play Mariotti threw the ball down court to Meany (eight points, six rebounds, six assists) who put it in off the window. The Woodland gym erupted as the Hawks held the lead at 43-37 with just 51 seconds on the clock.
Alma Rizvani sealed the victory for Woodland with her only points of the game knocking down both ends of a one-and-one at the free throw line.
“These girls are my life,” said an ecstatic coach Jess Moffo. “They are just great kids and I love them all. It’s been a tough season but I have been telling them all year, don’t quit and they never did.”
Moffo continued, “Carli our senior captain came up huge in that overtime along with the rest of the girls. We had two girls (Piccolo and Rizvani) knock down a pair of free throws with the game hanging in the balance. It just goes to show you these girls never quit all season long. And this is a great way to end the season.”