Round of Applause
Local basketball teams are all finishing their regular seasons strongly. The Woodland boys have won three in a row to take themselves from the outside of the Naugatuck Valley League tournament picture to controlling their own destiny entering Friday’s season finale at Wolcott. The Naugatuck boys gave league-leading Wilby all it could handle on Monday before falling to the Wildcats, but the Greyhounds had won their previous two and will be around the No. 6 seed in the league tournament. The Naugy girls closed the regular season on a three-game winning streak to clinch the No. 6 seed in the NVL tournament, as well. And the Woodland girls, who struggled for much of the season, closed the year with two wins in a row, including an overtime upset of Ansonia on senior night. Both Naugatuck squads and the Woodland boys could have strong momentum heading into both the NVL and state tournaments.
Open tournaments are excellent. Hopefully by now you’ve read my account of this weekend’s ever-exciting dodgeball tournament sponsored by the Naugatuck Fire Department. It was a great time for just about everyone involved, and it begs the question: Why aren’t there more open sports tournaments around these parts? Yeah, there are some golf tournaments in the summer, but there’s no room for ruthless intensity and foolishness in golf. I’m talking basketball tournaments, volleyball tournaments, flag football tournaments, cricket tournaments, etc. There is always an audience for these events, and whoever sponsors these things is sure to attract plenty of entertaining clowns who elicit boos from the crowd. This is just a thought from one newspaper guy to everyone else in positions of semi-authority around here.
Chorus of Boos
The Yankees should not trade AJ Burnett. Please, don’t do it. I’m sure I speak for plenty of Red Sox fans when I say that I really like how Burnett looks in pinstripes. It takes a certain breed of pitcher to make opposing fan bases feel totally confident in their chances to win when he’s on the mound, and Burnett is that breed. For as slim a chance Burnett has to throw a no-hitter every time out, he’s got the same chance to give up 15 runs on 16 hits, five walks, three wild pitches, and a dugout meltdown. We love seeing that sort of thing. Why ship him to Pittsburgh and obscurity? Think about the fans, Brian Cashman. Opposing fans, that is. Don’t pull the trigger, please.
Jeremy Lin is the new Tim Tebow. I mean that in the sense that ESPN can’t get enough of Lin, and I’ve had enough of him. The NBA is bad enough without talking about the same topic every day. In fact, this has given me even less reason to watch the ugly, non-fundamental, sleep-inducing programming that is an NBA game. Guys run up and down the court, don’t play defense, heave up long shots, and run back down the other end. It’s also dumb how arenas feel the need to play music DURING the game. Who thought that was a good idea? Probably the same guys who feel the need to yell like morons during pregame introductions. But back to Lin. The whole thing is cute, but I don’t care. This stuff happens in other sports all the time. Guys that come from nowhere play well all the time. It’s how things go. Lin will not matter soon, and nor will the Knicks or the NBA. I look forward to the return of those days where I can focus on things that matter, like good recipes for fruit salad and how cool MLB teams’ spring training uniforms are.
Word from the Woods
The Woodland boys needed two wins this week to keep their Naugatuck Valley League tournament hopes alive. They got both. After smoking Derby, 75-53, on Friday, the Hawks pulled out a crucial, 52-50 win over Ansonia on Tuesday. Last Friday, the Hawks had no problem coasting past the Red Raiders. Ryan Angeloszek led the way with 21 points while Tanner Kingsley scored 18, Kirk Chamenko 13, Billy Alfiere nine, and Dave Uhl eight. Woodland led, 49-19, at the half, and Kingsley hit five 3-pointers in the contest. Woodland entered Tuesday’s game with the Chargers tied with them for the last spot in the NVL tournament, but Ansonia held the tiebreaker due to a head-to-head win earlier in the season. The Hawks held on for the victory this time despite a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Chargers. Kingsley led the team with 21 points while Angeloszek had 16 and no other player scored more than five. Woodland led, 42-30, entering the fourth quarter before nearly letting the game slip away. But the win sets up the Hawks (10-9, 9-9 NVL) to clinch an NVL tournament berth with a win over Wolcott on Friday, which would make Woodland the No. 7 seed in the tournament.
Woodland earned a pair of nonconference victories this week as the team continued its momentum in the second half of the season. Last Wednesday, the Hawks beat Northwestern, 95-87, in a nonleague dual meet. Event winners for Woodland included the 200-yard medley relay team (Jimmy Tompkins, Andrew Cullen, Aidan Music, Eric Dietz), Andy O’Dell (200 free, 500 free), Music (200 IM), Eric Dietz (50 free, 100 free), Michael Christiano (diving), Patrick O’Dell (100 fly, 100 back), the 200 free relay team (Cullen, Alan Katrenya, Eric Dietz, Andy O’Dell), and Katrenya (100 breast). On Tuesday, the Hawks beat Oxford, 97-85. Event winners for Woodland included the 200 medley relay team (Tompkins, Katrenya, Patrick O’Dell, Cullen), Andy O’Dell (200 free, 500 free), Patrick O’Dell (200 IM, 100 fly), Eric Dietz (50 free, 100 free), Christiano (diving), the 200 free relay team (Cullen, Eric Dietz, Ryan Greenwood, Andy O’Dell), Katrenya (100 breast), and the 400 free relay team (Eric Dietz, Music, Andy O’Dell, Patrick O’Dell). The Hawks have one more regular-season meet on Friday against Kennedy on senior night before the NVL championships at the end of the month.
The Naugatuck girls closed the regular season on a three-game winning streak, including two victories this week against Kennedy and Wilby. Last Friday, Naugy rallied from a 23-8 halftime deficit to beat the Eagles, 37-33. The Greyhounds outscored Kennedy, 21-3, in the third quarter to propel the comeback. Lauren Piroscafo led the way with 17 points while Amy Dietz added 10 and Ang Piccirillo had five. It was easier sailing on Tuesday in a 66-36 win over Wilby on senior night for the ‘Hounds. Piccirillo scored a game-high 20 points while Piroscafo had 18, including three 3-pointers. Dietz poured in 10 more and Steph Lima tacked on six. Naugatuck will be the No. 6 seed in the NVL tournament, which begins Saturday at Holy Cross High School.
Results of Naugatuck’s meet against Torrington last Friday were unavailable as of press time. The Greyhounds have just more than a week left to their regular season. They will host Watertown on Friday before hitting the road to face Kennedy on Wednesday and Crosby on Feb. 24. The NVL trials are set for Feb. 28 before the diving finals on Feb. 29 and the swimming finals on March 2. The NVL meets will be at Kennedy High School.