WATERBURY — Tuesday night, the Hawks delivered an early knockout.
Woodland jumped out to a 15-6 lead, dominated on the glass and never trailed in a 66-43 victory over Sacred Heart at Alumni Hall. The Hawks improved to 5-1 overall and won at Sacred Heart for only the second time in the school’s history.
Yahmad Rountree and Ryan Angeloszek both posted double-doubles and were forces on the inside. In the backcourt, Rahmi Rountree scored 19 points and Tanner Kingsley added 10 to provide a balanced attack for Woodland, which has won five games in a row since a season-opening loss to Crosby.
Through six games, Woodland coach Tom Hunt likes what he sees.
“At the beginning of the season we were kind of young in some key spots with the guards not having a whole lot of time behind them from last year,” Hunt said. “With the point we’re at right now, I’m pretty satisfied. They’re working hard in practice every day, and that practice is extending onto the court.”
In the win over the Hearts, Woodland’s effort was evident throughout. The Hawks played a scrappy zone defense that stymied Sacred Heart, outrebounded the Hearts by a wide margin and competed with intensity from start to finish.
A five-minute stretch during the first quarter was a microcosm of the game. The Hawks used a quick-hitting 9-2 run to create distance.
It started with Yahmad Rountree hitting a top-of-the-key jumper. Woodland’s next two baskets were put-backs—Angeloszek and Rahmi Rountree each followed their own misses to score buckets.
Yahmad Rountree capped the run with a three-point play with 1:13 remaining in the quarter.
Hunt noted the Hawks’ effort on the glass.
“A lot of guys at the next level will say with rebounding there’s technique, but then there’s just desire,” Hunt said. “And if you have the desire to go out and get those rebounds, you’re going to be the guy to get those rebounds.”
The Hawks outscored the Hearts, 16-11, in the second quarter and led, 34-23, at the half. Woodland increased its lead in the third quarter.
In the third, Kingsley scored five straight points for the Hawks, capped an 11-2 run with a three-pointer from the right arc with 3:40 left and gave Woodland a commanding, 46-27 lead.
Jake Martin had 18 points to lead the Hearts.
The Hawks host St. Paul Friday in a crucial Naugatuck Valley Brass Division clash before traveling to Wilby Jan. 11. Each game will provide another opportunity for Woodland to prove itself to the NVL.
“I feel like every game we have something to prove, no game is going to be taken easy,” said Yahmad Rountree, who scored a game-high 20 points and added 12 rebounds. “Every game counts. We’re gonna come out hard every game.”