Round of Applause
The New Year’s bowls were the best set of single-day college bowl games I can ever remember. (Of course, by New Year’s bowls I mean the games played on Jan. 2 since the NFL stole college’s holiday spotlight this year.) Perhaps the most exciting game of the day was in the afternoon’s Outback Bowl, a game in which Michigan State beat Georgia, 33-30, in triple overtime. The teams exchanged field goals — and missed field goals — after the Spartans went on a last-minute touchdown drive to send the game to overtime. Later in perhaps the most exciting game of the day, Oregon beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, 45-38, in what can only be described as a track meet with more long touchdowns than a bad high school football game. And finally, in perhaps the most exciting game of the day, Oklahoma State beat Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl, 41-38, in overtime, with one of the best two-way-quarterbacked college game I’ve ever watched. If you’re sharp, you’ll noticed I labeled each game as perhaps the best of the day. That’s just what they were. Usually, most of the New Year’s bowl games are duds, but these were anything but — and certainly much better than what the NFL had to offer on Sunday. By the way, Michigan beat Virginia Tech, 23-20, in overtime in Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl for good measure. Beat that, NFL playoffs.
The Woodland boys swim team is doing an admirable job competing this winter. The Hawks are 0-3 after one month of the season, but it’s not for the lack of effort or fabulous individual performances. Woodland is simply fighting against the numbers. There are only 14 athletes on the roster, meaning rarely can the team fill out a full lineup for more than a handful of events in any dual meet. Sure, first- and second-place finishes are nice, but meets are often won with third- and fourth-place finishes, which require strong depth. Swimmers can only realistically compete in a few events each night, so the possibility of deep performances just isn’t there. But the individual and relay efforts by these athletes cannot be overlooked and they will all get their chances to shine throughout the rest of the winter and as championship meets come up at the end of the season.
A clean bedroom brings such a peace of mind. I am notorious for having a zoo for a room (without the animals, relax). After all, what’s the point of putting away clothes if I’m just going to wear them again in the near future? Well, having nothing on the floor or the couch actually makes me feel good. It’s like nature’s de-stressor. I don’t have to worry about twisting my ankle while walking to my bed, and I don’t have to keep a shovel in the hallway so I can dig my way to the closet. Plus, I can even entertain! Golly, this is splendid. I’ll wait while you parents grab the scissors to cut this out and hand it to your children in hopes of convincing them that cleaning their rooms is good for them.
Flannel shirts are even better than clean bedrooms. Flannel is just like a clean bedroom, except it can go outside the house. Wearing flannel says to the world, “I am here, I am relaxed, and I am ready.” Flannel exudes calm confidence. It symbolizes both the laid-back and hard-working personality. It says to men, “I’ve got this,” and to women, “Hey there.” Flannel is not sweat-inducing but protects against the elements. Wearing flannel gives me the capability to split wood like a Norseman or melt hearts like a Hallmark writer. This winter, I’ve been compared in my flannel shirt to a lumberjack (compliment), Zac Brown (bigger compliment), and Al Borland (cake-taker). Flannel is wear it’s at. Pun.
Word from the Woods
The Hawks split a four-game homestand over the last two weeks, bringing the team to 4-3 as it enters a tough stretch against Naugatuck Valley League Copper Division foes. On Dec. 28, Woodland beat Oxford, 63-55, in the consolation game of the Candy Cane Classic. Tanner Kingsley tied a career high with 29 points and five steals to lead the Hawks while Ryan Angeloszek added 14 points and 11 rebounds. Billy Alfiere had six points and Dave Uhl had five in the win. On Tuesday, Woodland lost to Brass Division opponent Wolcott, 69-58. The Eagles pulled away in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Hawks, 25-16. Alfiere led the Hawks with 19 points, including three 3-pointers, while Uhl added 13, including three more 3-pointers. Kingsley had 10 and Dave Alves contributed six. Woodland’s seven-game Copper Division streak begins on Friday with a matchup at Crosby before returning home on Tuesday for a meeting with Torrington.
After reaching the final of last week’s Candy Cane Classic, the Woodland girls have lost two in a row to fall to 2-6 on the season. On Dec. 28, the Hawks lost to Amity, 44-27, in the Candy Cane Classic championship. Andrea Piccolo led Woodland with 17 points while Carli Mariotti added five. On Tuesday, the Hawks lost to Brass Division juggernaut Wolcott, 55-31. Mariotti led Woodland with nine points while Piccolo and Alma Rizvani both contributed eight. The Hawks must split their final 12 games in order to avoid missing the state tournament for the first time in school history. They will begin that effort on Friday with the first of seven straight Copper Division games at home against Crosby. Woodland will hit the road on Tuesday for a game at Torrington.
The Naugatuck boys’ 2-4 record is likely not indicative of how well the Greyhounds have played over the first three weeks of the season. The ‘Hounds lost games to Pomperaug and Crosby over the last week, but neither game was out of Naugy’s grasp. Last Thursday, Pomperaug pulled away with a 67-57 win, despite three Greyhounds scoring in double figures. Mick Pernell and Gabe Pulliam both scored 14 while Husani Foote added 12 and Brandon Kuczenski contributed six. On Tuesday, Naugy lost a fourth-quarter lead and fell to Crosby, 69-68. Five Greyhounds scored in double figures against the Bulldogs, including Foote (20 points), Kuczenski (14), Pernell (14), Pulliam (10), and Adam Neveski (10). Naugatuck begins a two-game homestand on Friday against Torrington and Tuesday against Seymour.
Naugatuck climbed back over .500 with a 62-24 win over Crosby on Tuesday. The Greyhounds outscored the Bulldogs, 36-5, in the first half and coasted to an easy victory in the borough. Lauren Piroscafo led the ‘Hounds with 20 points, including four 3-pointers, while Ang Piccirillo contributed 16 points, seven assists, six steals, and six rebounds. Amber Kuczenski added 10 points while Steph Lima scored six. Carli Pelliccia and Amy Dietz scored four each. Naugatuck is now 5-4 and hits the road for two straight games, at Torrington on Friday and at Seymour on Tuesday. The Greyhounds will qualify for the state tournament with three more victories in their final 11 games.
Lips to CN’s Ear
“It’s just weird. Some of the scheduling hasn’t worked out. I can’t explain it. It just seems like a short winter. I know we’re in the same boat at just about everybody, looking around the state and seeing not a ton of qualifying marks being posted.”
Woodland boys indoor track coach Tim Shea on this year’s unusual season. The Hawks have competed in only a few meets thus far, but that will change over the next few weeks with key qualifying meets at the Shoreline Invitational and the Yale Classic.
“Yeah, we might have come into the season with a little chip on our shoulder. But the team is really motivated and we should be a very competitive team once the NVL championships roll around.”
Naugatuck indoor track coach Ralph Roper on his teams’ prospects for the Naugatuck Valley League championships at the end of the month. Both the boys and girls have a mix of veteran and young talent, meaning the Greyhounds should compete for NVL titles on Jan. 31.
“We’re always unevenly matched. Those fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishes for the other team add up. You’re always racing against the clock. It’s all about the clock. If everyone produces personal records, then we’ve had a successful season.”
Woodland boys swimming coach Tom Currier on the difficulty this season’s low turnout has posed for the team. The Hawks only have 14 swimmers on the roster, meaning Currier can’t fill out the lineup for most events. Still, a number of swimmers are close to setting program records.