Hawks take flight with fourth-quarter flurries

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By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News

Woodland’s Casey Mulligan (34) drives against Oxford’s Morgan Brimecombe (3) during a game March 3 at Woodland Regional High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — Woodland girls basketball coach Jess Moffo was pleased with her team’s fourth-quarter effort over a recent three-game winning streak, though she certainly would like to see her Hawks unleash that kind of play over an entire game.

“They are making it quite interesting,” Moffo said. “I wish we could do that every quarter, but we just seem to find that six bad minutes that kind of creeps in there.”

The Hawks have used the fourth quarter as their stomping ground ever since an overtime loss to Ansonia to start the season. In the five games that followed, Woodland outscored the opposition by a combined 79-42 in the fourth quarter — that includes a 45-23 margin during a three-game winning streak that started Feb. 26 at Torrington.

The Hawks (4-2) held a four-point lead heading into the fourth quarter over the Raiders and extended the advantage on their way to a 46-39 win.

Casey Mulligan led the way with 15 points. Ava DeLucia added seven points. Kylie Bulinski, Riley Kane and Andra Bojka each had six points.

On March 2, Wolcott erased a nine-point halftime deficit to take a 36-35 lead into the fourth. The Hawks responded and outscored the Eagles 14-3 in the fourth quarter to pull out a 49-39 win.

Woodland’s Ava DeLucia (25) battles Oxford’s Alexis Sanders (24) for a rebound during a game March 3 at Woodland Regional High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Mulligan led the way again with 16 points. Bojka had 14 points and Kane added 10 points.

“What has been working for us is we don’t need to rely on one or two players to score,” Moffo said. “We have six players who have scored in double-figures. When teams shut down one of our shooters, we know we can go somewhere else.”

That mindset came into play on March 3 when Oxford held Mulligan to just six points.

Oxford led by five going into the fourth quarter, but the Hawks battled back. With the game tied and the clock winding down, Gabby Mastropietro (11 points) hit the game-winning shot and finished the old-fashioned three-point play with two seconds left to give the Hawks the 47-44 win.

“Oxford was up the entire second half, but Gabby (Mastropietro) came up huge with a last-second shot,” Moffo said.

DeLucia (10 points, 12 rebounds) blocked five shots in the fourth quarter.

Woodland’s Sammy Sosnovich (4) heads up the court after pulling down a defensive rebound in front Oxford’s Olivia Garcia (14) during a game March 3 at Woodland Regional High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“Ava (DeLucia) just owned that last quarter,” Moffo said. “She blocked five shots and pulled down every rebound we needed. She has been a terrific leader.”

Kane added nine points and Bojka had seven for the Hawks.

“Andra does a real good job of settling the team down,” Moffo said. “Casey is only a freshman but she really has stepped up leading the team down the stretch against Wolcott.”

“Riley may be outsized but she is not outsized in heart,” she added. “She helped us win that game (against Oxford); relentless on the boards and solid defense.”

Woodland will remain quite busy down the stretch of the season. The Hawks are scheduled to play Torrington on March 5, Ansonia on March 8, Seymour on March 9 and Crosby on March 12. Woodland finishes the regular season against Ansonia on March 15 and Waterbury Career on March 17.